With strong support from the arts community, from patrons of the arts, and from local business and individual sponsors, members of the Zeta Omicron Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) Sorority staged the 45th consecutive Edge of the Cedars Art Exhibit at Cedaredge Middle School last week.
Ninety-two artists entered a total of 256 individual works for this year's exhibit and sale.
During its four-day gallery run, the event gives local artist a place to show their works to each other and to the public, to generate sales, to develop their talents, and to earn recognition for their work and achievement.
For the second year in a row, a work by Cedaredge artist Marty Rathburn was awarded Best of Show honors. His "The Bell Dancer" pencil sketch was entered in the graphic arts category for judging. It also took the judge's honors for best professional, a blue ribbon in its class, and a cash award. Show judge Cynthia Duff said that in judging she believes the work earning best professional designation should also be accorded Best of Show.
Rathburn was delighted at being selected Best of Show winner for the second year in a row.
"It is unbelievable," he said excitedly.
No one had told him about the honor as he arrived at the show and began viewing the entries not knowing where "The Bell Dancer" had even been hung.
"I came around the corner and saw all the awards surrounding the drawing and thought 'They must be for other works hanging nearby,' " he said.
Rathburn has won the People's Choice honors at Edge of the Cedars six times with works depicting Native American realism. He said he has not done a pencil drawing in 30 years and was encouraged to take up the medium again by his wife, Mary Ann. The subject of the drawing is a dancer that he saw at a powwow event in Denver.
Art show judge Duff said about "The Bell Dancer" that "in the final analysis it had all the elements. It rests, and you are at peace with it. It is slow and simple. It has all the elements of a good art piece. It is well designed and has balanced elements."
The People's Choice award went to a painting of a lioness and her cubs done by Cedaredge artist Larry Dumler. The painting, entered in advanced oil/acrylics category, is titled "Mamaa Simba Maacai Mara" and displays meticulous and dramatic nature realism. Another painting in the show by Dumler, "Headed North Sandhill Cranes," won a blue ribbon and the best of advanced award.
In her remarks to the gathering of artists and public at the judge's reception on Wednesday Duff also said, "A thriving community is usually rich in its arts; there is a correlation between the two."
She said that her task of selecting the best among the entries from 92 artists was difficult. Judging a show with so many entries of good art "gets down to the last 10 or 15 -- the real cream of the crop. It gets very difficult."
She noted the strong emotive content of many of the pieces. "Some got awards because they were emotional. They showed great power and emotion."
In addition, Duff had words of appreciation for the local arts community, and also for the show's ESA sponsors. "Thanks to ESA for their support of the arts, and for the support from local businesses giving (cash) awards," she said.