There Something in the Water

Article Published: Aug. 4, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
There Something in the Water

There are watercolor clubs and societies all over America.

So, one might wonder why one local group of painters is called the High Country "Watermedia" Society.

"It's called a watermedia society because we use a variety of water soluble materials, such as acrylic paints," said High Country Watermedia Society (HCWS) president Sarah Gilley. "We've been around about two decades, and we have all levels of artists from beginners to professionals."

The High Country Watermedia Society will present a juried art exhibit at the Jones House Community Center's Mazie Jones Gallery during the month of August. An artists' reception will be held at the Jones House in downtown Boone on Friday, Aug. 5, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. as part of the monthly Downtown Boone Art Crawl. The event is free and open to the public.

"There are over 100 members of the High Country Watermedia Society, and we meet the second Tuesday of each month from May through October at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff in Boone," Gilley said.

"We have artists who travel from Hickory or out of state to participate in our demonstrations and workshops, and we have a number of seasonal residents who belong to the society."

While many members of the society are beginner artists who picked up a paintbrush later in life, a handful are noted professional artists who enjoy mentoring and tutoring the less experienced artists.

HCWS member Judy Rider was honored last year when one of her paintings was selected for inclusion in the National Watercolor Society's Open Exhibit in San Pedro, Calif. Later, it was selected as one of 14 paintings of the exhibit's 111 pieces to be included in the Open Exhibit's traveling show.
Rider is also a member of the N.C. Watercolor Society and teaches continuing education art classes at Catawba Valley Community College and the Hickory Museum of Art.

Pat Grant is a HCWS member who specializes in photorealistic paintings of wildlife, including a stunning portrait of a gray squirrel in the Mazie Jones Gallery exhibition. Grant is also a member of the N.C. Wildlife Artists Society.

HCWS member Judy Clarke found her passion for painting after she retired from her job as assistant athletic director for Appalachian State University.

"I love the social aspect of it and the chance to meet new people, as well as the demonstrations and workshops," Clarke said. "It is very rewarding and so different from what I did before I retired from athletics."

In the new art show, Clarke is exhibiting a monochromatic portrait of her niece painted in light and dark shades of burnt sienna.

The HCWS' juried art exhibit will be judged by Hickory artist Kate Worm. The cash prizes are $150 for first place, $100 for second place and $75 for third place.

New artwork in Open Door, Serendpity galleries
Special to the Mountain Times

The Open Door Gallery hosts the artwork of Linda Elksnin.

Representative works from four of her eight series are included in the exhibit.

The textile art of the Kuna Indians influenced her "Mola" series.

Appreciation of the 19th century folk artist, Edward Hicks, and contemporary Haitian artists are the inspiration for Elksnin's "Fantastic Animal" paintings. A "moon couple" soars over landscapes in the "Moon People" series.

Paintings in the "Flower" series are a contemporary interpretation of primitive American still-lifes. Elksnin creates her paintings by layering watercolor and gouache on a painted background. She then builds up color and texture with colored pencils.

Elksnin is participating in several juried art shows this summer, including Art in the Park in Blowing Rock, the Biltmore Village Art & Craft Fair in Asheville and the Atlanta Arts Festival. She also has shown her work in Charleston, S.C., including the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibit, Saul Alexander Gallery, Courtney Street Gallery at the Medical University of South Carolina and the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston.

Elksnin is represented by the Four Winds Collection in Beaufort, S.C., and the Gallery at York Hall in Yorktown, Va.

Elksnin was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in New Jersey and Maryland. She has been drawing and painting since childhood and earned a BFA from Syracuse University. An interest in children with disabilities led her to earn a M.Ed. and Ph.D. in special education from the University of Virginia.

She is now a full time artist after retiring from The Citadel, where she was a full professor in the school of education. She divides her time between Charleston, S.C., and Vilas.

The arts council's featured artist in the Serendipity Gallery this month is Marilyn Herman.

Herman lives in Linville Harbor and is inspired by the beauty that surrounds her in the mountain landscape. She is a self-taught artist using layers of vibrant acrylics. She loves color, texture and the many shadows cast upon the purest of forms.

The Jones House Community Center is located at 604 W. King St. The galleries are also now open on Saturdays, form 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit or call (828) 264-1789.

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