Linda Bethke paintingThis year, the annual People’s Choice Award Show, sponsored by the Fluvanna Art Association (FAA), was full of surprises. It featured a variety of artists and an eclectic mix of mediums. Unlike the annual show judged by a professional, the public chooses the three best in each category.

Also, School Board member Carol Carr stopped by the show and reception to accept a check for $500. Of that total $250 will go to the Fluvanna County High School art department and $250 will support the Fluvanna Middle School art department. The proceeds came from the recent art tag sale held in July. Carr also had a look around and talked with artists.

As art itself evolves, so do the methods and tools contemporary artists use. No longer is art in its purest form the norm. The subjects were wide and varied, from abstracts to landscapes, collage, still life photography, illustrations, wood carvings and unfinished work. It was a difficult choice for many. There were more pastels featured this year by very accomplished artists. Susan Walker’s “Midnight Caller” was a variegated pastel, featuring a stunned little frog lying on its back. Her pastel of a motorcycle showed amazing detail and flawless execution. Not many FAA artists have featured vehicles recently, and when they do, it is often a rusty old truck tucked away in the undergrowth of a nearby field.

Walker often chooses subjects that strike her fancy.

Newcomer Lucy Dee Kinsey was praised for her beautiful pastels. An intermediate artist, she captures color and perspective in her field of red flowers and the softness and light in her water lilies. Also new to the FAA, Julia Lesnichy won third for her pastel “Virginia Wildflowers” in the advanced category. She also featured “A Path in Purcell Park.” The scene depicted a quiet path which Lesnichy’s superb mastery of lighting gave a feeling of peaceful solitude. Returning with her vibrant canine pastels was Nancy Lovallo.

Some of the first timers in each category talked about their experience. Doreen Gullo described how she created her unique collage, incorporating handmade woven pieces, photos and other memorabilia to create her own personal message, “Coming Full Circle.”

“I never did anything like this before,” she said. Beating her out for third place in the novice category was Anne C. Davis for “Yosemite Falls.” Andy Kirchenheiter took second for her “Beary Sad,” in which a sad-looking bear peered out between tree branches. But it was Brenda Aluisi who took first with her well executed watercolor, “Mama’s Flowers.”

The smalls category also had a variety of different subjects and mediums from colored pencil zentangles to abstracts by Sarah Gondwe and Nancy Quantock. Linda Mullin took third with her colorful “Sunday in the Park,” while Susan Lang took second with her tiny cottontail rabbit. But it was Nancy Shaffer who took first place for her child splashing in a puddle all in yellow. She also did the same theme in intermediate with an animated disembodied figure all in bright red, kicking up the water in a puddle. FAA artists, with the exception of one or two, tend to shy away from figures and faces in their paintings, often opting for landscapes.
The intermediate category had the most variety of abstracts. Nancy Quantock discussed her new method of painting that lent her paintings an interesting marbleizing effect. She said she no longer paints the way she used to, but has instead found a new way to adapt since holding a paintbrush proves to be a difficult task these days.

“It’s called acrylic pouring,” she said. “You accumulate your paints in a cup in any combination, add your additives, which create the effects you want, and tilt the surface once the paint has been poured and see what the result is.” Maria Carter also used the same method for her “Cosmic Lavender,” with splashes of purples, golds, greens and blues.

Many surprises occurred in the intermediate category. Newcomer Todd Mathes took third for his Photoshop collage “Fairie Garden,” while Leona Bittner got second for her “Mountain in Autumn.” Bittner’s mountain showed painstaking detail. No one was more surprised than Tom Ellis when he won first for his carving of a “Technicolor Heron.”

The advanced category featured many wonderful and talented artists, including Bill Snow, Sarah Gondwe and Windy Payne, whose “Nag’s Head” was one of her best works. Her patterns in the sand, lighting and color capture the feeling of the beach. Bev Bowman’s “Indian Strawberry” botanical was precise and delicate, but were all beaten by third place winner Julia Lesnichy’s “Virginia Wildflowers.”

The late Loli Stams won second place posthumously for her unfinished work. It was an eerie piece with the specter of the Statue of Liberty set against a pastel background of clouds and mountains. President Susan

Lang became choked with tears when announcing the winner for second.

Linda Bethke won first place in advanced a second year in a row for her “Family Fun,” a colorful watercolor of life on the beach at Lake Monticello.