Next month, for the 38th consecutive year, the premier exhibition for artists in Surface Creek Valley, and beyond, will take place June 9-13 at Cedaredge Middle School.
This year’s Edge of the Cedars Art Exhibit 38th edition also will mark two other occasions.
The dedicated and energetic group of 15 women who comprise the Zeta Omicron Chapter of Epsilon Alpha Omega (ESA) Sorority, the creators, organizers and guardian angel overseers of this region-wide art extravaganza, are celebrating their own 40th anniversary as a community service organization in the Surface Creek Valley.
And this year will also be the first year ever, since Zeta Omicron began 40 years ago and then started Edge of the Cedars two years afterward, that Mary Lou Huerkamp won’t be part of the excitement and community activity generated by the art show.
Mary Lou, a founding member of Zeta Omicron and a dedicated patron and enthusiastic supporter of Edge of the Cedars, passed away this spring. And though her presence will be missed, her generous and uplifting spirit will not be. Her ESA friends plan a tribute to Mary Lou at this year’s art exhibit.
Community service, which is the purpose of the local ESA Chapter, is carried out by the members in their continuing support through fund raising work and donations made to active community service groups. From the animal shelter to the fire department, you can’t find a worthy local institution in the Valley that hasn’t benefitted from the work and generosity of Zeta Omicron here.
But on the basis of high visibility and community-wide participation and support, Edge of the Cedars is the real showcase of the Zeta Omicron Chapter’s many activities. The members themselves, though vitally involved in the planning and staging of the art show, take a back seat to the artists, their work, and the community-building purpose of Edge of the Cedars.
Local businesses get involved as sponsors. The school district provides a site for the show at Cedaredge Middle School. The community’s youth are involved. There are over 100 student art works taking part in the exhibit and they can earn young artists a cash prize, or maybe that all-important very first sale.
Far from least of the show’s enthusiastic supporters and contributors are the husbands of Zeta Omicron’s members; they gladly help with the heavy lifting each year to help make sure that everything needed for the show gets done right.
Naturally the local art community is involved, and participation includes every age group, social demographic. Professional artists, amateurs and student artists display their work in a variety of mediums and formats that give the annual show a breadth of style and a quality that is unexcelled. There is everything from traditional sculpture and oil-acrylic landscapes to emerging mediums of mixed media and computer graphics.
Edge of the Cedars is for artists, art lovers and art collectors, too. Every option is available – from top-notch professional works to award winningwatercolors by grade schoolers, along with value-priced professional work from The Cedar Closet. Purchases generate a small commission for Zeta Omicron, so buyers know their purchase is helping a local artist and going back to help the community, too.
The first Edge of the Cedars was held in 1973 at Hunsicker Elementary School. The idea for the exhibit, current members say, was sparked in part by a club member’s presentation on the subject of art.
The sorority started the show during Little Britches Rodeo weekend in Cedaredge in hopes that it would draw more patrons with the visitors in town. The show was rescheduled to an early June date in 1985. It is one of the first events to take place after school lets out for summer recess. That has worked well for the show, making it one of the earliest ones to take place in the area, and it has contributed to Edge of the Cedars’ popularity and success.
From the beginning Edge of the Cedars was successful, with 61 art entries contributed the first year. That success verified the ESA members’ feeling that artists in Surface Creek Valley really needed a venue for displaying their work.
The show moved from Hunsicker to CHS in 1982 for the 10th anniversary, and then to CMS in 2006 where it has been staged since then.
The show has retained its appeal to the arts community and grown steadily. Last year 94 artists displayed 254 works, the highest number ever.
In addition to giving artists a chance to display and sell their work, Edge of the Cedars generates funds for scholarships to graduating Cedaredge High School seniors.
In addition to supporting local community organizations, the Zeta Omicron Chapter contributes to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, which is ESA’s primary benefitting cause.
The members of Zeta Omicron Chapter welcome other new members to their organization and invite anyone to visit with them during Edge of the Cedars.
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