East meets west at Winnsboro Center for the Arts
The occasion to remove the business of comparative analysis and observe the aesthetic value of artistic differences is a rarity today.
The Winnsboro Center for the Arts has, since Dec. 19, afforded local residents just such an opportunity.
East meets west at Winnsboro Center for the Arts
Comparative analysis is pretty much ingrained in daily living.
People compare items before purchase, efforts against those of others and compete in almost every area of life to gain advantages for themselves and their families.
The occasion to remove the business of comparative analysis and observe the aesthetic value of artistic differences is a rarity today. Life is often just too busy for such luxury.
When the opportunity presents itself to take that deep breath and appreciate artistic differences, it can be considered a treat.
The Winnsboro Center for the Arts has, since Dec. 19, afforded local residents just such an opportunity. The exhibit “East Meets West” features the landscape artistry of local talent Nancy Beauchamp and that of West Texas artist Bob Haydon.
The two artists met at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts and struck a lasting friendship.
As Haydon expressed, “That friendship has carried into our artwork. With similar views on fine arts in general, but with different impressionistic styles…we felt that “East Meets West” would be a rewarding idea.”
Painting in differing media – Beauchamp with pastels and Haydon in acrylics – the two artists combined to present an exhibit which highlighted the respective beauty of East Texas and West Texas.
Texas is a land of regions. Perhaps more than in any other state in the nation, Texans commonly reference themselves to a specific region in the state. The big divisions such as East Texas, West Texas, the Hill Country, etc., are further refined. Deep East Texas or the Big Thicket, the Panhandle or the Pecos, the descriptors are a normal identifier.
In this case, the landscapes of areas east and west of the great escarpment are beautifully rendered in fine detail.
Viewing Beauchamp’s work “Sunlight through the Pines” together with Haydon’s “Apache Sunrise,” one is exposed to the vast spectrum which is Texas. Each scene is compelling, and each draws the viewer in. The paintings are like invitations.
Perhaps the simplest test of an artist’s effectiveness is the ability to conjure a desire of a viewer to have wished to be present, in that scene. The two artists succeeded.
As Beauchamp commented, “The exhibit shows the diverse beauty of Texas.”
At a time when the pandemic has prevented many outings, Winnsboro’s Center for the Arts forges ahead. In addition to hosting exhibits such as “East Meets West,” the center has significantly modified, but not canceled its offerings.
Seven art exhibitions are in the queue for 2021. Concerts by John McEuen & the String Wizards and Beat Root Revival are scheduled May 15 and June 26, respectively. The Bowery Stage will be busy as well with four stage productions in the works. Music, pottery and art workshops remain available, either at the center or at the nearby Arts Annex.
In what manager Matt Mahaffey considers the flagship event of the year, a six-week musical theater camp will be underway this summer. A team of a dozen middle and high schoolers will draft a story and compose accompanying songs.
After the story has been professionally turned into a script, the team will produce the musical and stage public performances at the end of the six weeks. It is quite an undertaking.
All of these events have been methodically altered to ensure the safest possible environment. The theater camp, for instance, has been cut from 20 to 12 participants. Mahaffey explained that the reduction was based on square footage available in the work areas. He also described the lengths taken to sanitize the center, thus allowing the doors to remain open.
The center is a non-profit organization and relies primarily on voluntary funding streams. The reputation of the center is such that it will soon add a new building. Mahaffey explained that drawings for a new performance center are complete and construction is to begin soon.
“It will be a reconfigurable arts center, able to accommodate widely-varied purposes,” he said. The performance art center will occupy the vacant lot on Market Street, two doors down from the Center for the Arts.
Mahaffey is completely at home managing the center. Originally from the Lufkin area, Mahaffey spent considerable time in Quitman where his father, Ray, was a member of the traveling gospel trio “Safely Anchored.” A classically-trained musician, Mahaffey completed his doctorate in music from the University of Iowa and is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Arkansas in Magnolia.
While studying for his comprehensive examinations, Mahaffey picked up a brush and began painting –uncovered a second considerable artistic talent.
“We dabble in everything here at the center,” he remarked.
At the moment he is seeking an instructor to teach the skills of stained glass production.
Although the “East Meets West” exhibit closes Feb. 13, after a two-month showing, a student art competition opens and will remain open until April 10.
Whether it is the presentation of painting exhibits such as “East Meets West” or pottery instruction under the expertise of Stacey Tafoya or a self-produced musical put on by local teenagers, the Winnsboro Center for the Arts is doing all it can to further the arts and keep its doors open for Wood County residents.