by Kim Forbes
The West Tennessee Strawberry Festival kicked off Sunday with two events. The first was a prayer breakfast held at 8 a.m. at the Humboldt Medical Center. The second event of the day was the West Tennessee Regional Art Center’s Invitational Art Exhibition held from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the art center.
This year’s exhibition featured five West Tennessee artists who each set the bar high with their showings, which demonstrated technique, skill and passion. Two of the artists, Evelyn Baskerville and Rob Alsobrook are Humboldt residents. The other three artists were Wanda Stanfill of Jackson, Andrew Boks of Jackson and Charley Highers of Henderson. For the third time Brian Bundren, assistant professor of art at Freed Hardeman University was the day’s juror.
As always, the art center had a delicious array of foods and drink prepared for guests to enjoy while viewing the newest collection on display. Once everyone had time to view the art, meet with the artists and talk with others at the event, the official program began. Speakers included WTRAC Director Bill Hickerson, Mayor Marvin
Sikes, State Rep. Curtis Halford and festival president Melissa Swingler, who introduced all of the 2018 royalty present, general chairman Chelsea Caraway and family, and 2018 festival honoree, Mary Key Roe and husband Bill.
Bundren took the floor and remarked on the hour he had in the gallery alone to be in the quiet with the work exhibited, pointing out that it gave him time to truly reflect on each piece. Bundren spoke about each artist individually, noting their techniques and even invoking visuals as to the process each used in the making of their pieces.
Highers was the last artist’s work Bundren addressed. Highers’ displayed work was all done in watercolor, which Bundren said, is the most difficult to master.
“With watercolor, you have to let go and let it happen and flow. But it is not chaotic. You guide it. You don’t fight it,” Bundren added.
After speaking for some time on Highers’ pieces, Bundren awarded her the Best of Show award for “Warm Autumn Wind”.
The attendees were in agreement with the award and many took time to congratulate Higher. State Representative Halford presented Highers with the art center’s Grand Award.
Hickerson does an outstanding job each year with this event and throughout the year as he keeps the art center one of, as Mayor Marvin Sikes noted, “Humboldt’s crown jewels.”