Curator of the Asheville Art Museum since 1990, Frank Thomson served as juror for this year’s competition. Prior to Asheville, Thompson was executive director of the Wilkes Art Gallery in North Wilkesboro, NC and before that director of the Upstairs ArtSpace in Tryon, NC. Art critic for the ‘Asheville “Citizen-Times” from 1990 to 1996, he has also written for “Art Papers”, the “Arts Journal”, “Art Vu” and the “New Art Examiner” as well as numerous exhibition catalogs. He has taught photography, art history and museum studies at the University of South Carolina, the University of Florida, Converse College, UNC-Asheville, Mars Hill College and Wilkes Community College. Thomson holds his bachelor’s degree in art from the University of South Carolina and an MFA from the University of Florida.
Thompson spent the day of April 8 looking at, and contemplating 360 works of art representing 196 South Carolina artisans. The vast array of paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, ceramics, fiber and other mediums made for the difficult task of selecting works for, and eliminating works from, the final show. The impressive final selection of 134 works of art represents 123 individuals currently creating visual art in this state.
About the jury, Thompson said, “A juried exhibition is a curious thing, particularly for the artists. There are great expectations at the beginning, often followed by disappointment after the results are announced. For a juror there are a couple of pitfalls. One is to curate, rather than jury, an exhibition. Another is the number of works selected. This is based on the exhibition space and not the quality of the work entered. Be generous and the exhibition is so crowded that it is difficult to view individual works. Too strict and otherwise worthy art may be left out.”
Thompson continued, “I have had the privilege of serving as a juror for a number of exhibitions over the years. In this role I try to bring to bear my experiences as an artist, a curator, an educator and an art lover. Before selecting work for an exhibition I try to get a feel for the art that has been entered. In selecting work my goal is to select the strongest pieces from those entered. For me there are three elements that I look for in a work of art: an understanding of craft, a demonstration of skill and a sense of imagination. The meaning of these things may vary depending on the media and the style the artist has chosen.”
Thanks to the kind sponsorships of Pickens County & the Pickens County Cultural Commission along with Doreen Heimlich, Larissa Heimlich, Shirley Sarlin, Ellen Kochansky, Dan & Kathy Brazinski, Philip & Gilda Hendricks, John & Judy Rozelle and the Susan B. Benjamin Memorial Fund, cash and purchase awards will be presented at the April 30 opening reception.
The Pickens County Museum of Art & History is funded in part by Pickens County, friends and members of the museum and a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Located at the corner of Hwy. 178 at 307 Johnson Street in Pickens SC, the museum is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Admission is free but donations are welcomed. For more information call the museum at (864) 898-5963.