A joint reception was held Saturday night, October 2 for both Nature Reconsidered and Trail where awards for both competitions were announced. The reception was well attended by participating artists and friends. All of the winners except for one, were present to receive their award in person. SASi would like to thank our judge, Michael Grady for selecting the winners. Mr. Grady is an exhibiting artist, writer, and Professor of Art at Appalachian State University. We also want to thank everyone attending the event for wearing a mask.

Judges Comments

“Thanks to all the participants in these excellent expressions of the human experience of nature and beauty. It was a great honor and a pleasure to serve as a juror for these remarkable exhibitions. The overall quality and commitment of the artists was very high. Everyone deserves great congratulations and support. Special thanks to the Southern Arts Society for their kind invitation. – Mike Grady”

Read the judges comments  underneath each winner below:

Nature Reconsidered 2021 Awards

First Place ($250)

Artist Anne Cowie in front of her first place artwork at Southern Arts Society's Nature Reconsidered 2021 art exhibit.

Anne Cowie, Bird Passing II, mixed media

Exquisite use of line and tonality makes this piece a real joy to look at. This piece gently explores the line between dream and reality – the direct perception of an image and the embrace of an atmosphere of subtle lines and tones. Elegant calligraphic references magically turns words into lyrical gestures, like birds that seem just beyond our reach – free. You provide a deeply satisfying composition that uses the entire rectangle and activates every detail of the image rather than simply surrounding it with the negative space. The central image of the perched bird gives us a sense of clarity and order – a visual wisdom that mediates the entire visual experience of the work.

Second Place ($150)

27 oil painting of ancient Angel Oak tree.

Rosie Little (not pictured), Angel Oak – 65 feet high, oil

Elegant use of color and gesture provides a sense of intimacy and monumentality – the strength and subtly of the oak. I was struck by the exciting use of color harmonics – just beyond ’normal vision’ of color and offering a richer and more vibrant experience of the ‘harmonics’ of color in nature. These colors really are there – not invented, but just beyond the normal range of ordinary perception. This little meditation on nature opens the world to us in rich and vibrant experience on an intimate scale. Great vision and delightful adventure into perception.

Third Place ($75)

Artist Ron Shepard in front of his third place artwork at Southern Arts Society's Nature Reconsidered 2021 art exhibit.

Ron Shepard, Glacier Bay, watercolor

Beautiful use of watercolor as a semi-abstract interpretation of nature’s flow. One gets the sense of direct experience from the work precisely because the artist has left room for us to enter the work though the subtly and sublime. The image becomes a destination rather than a simulation. The sense of crisp atmosphere and light make this a deeply satisfying experience of the natural sublime – the ‘absolutely great’ on an intimate scale.

Merit Award ($50)

Artist Fred Mead in front of his merit award-winning artwork at Southern Arts Society's Nature Reconsidered 2021 art exhibit.

Fred Mead, Crescent Earth Biosphere, glass and 14k gold (kintsugi)

The half-shell dome of the earth is beautifully fabricated and expressive. It suggests a reference to the environment and the atmosphere as a protective layer – like the shell of a tortoise. The protective aspect of the artwork’s shape also makes it a bit enigmatic. What lies beneath the shell? The opacity and solidity of the object seems to limit our range of responses, but also creates an art object of great beauty and refinement.

Merit Award ($50)

29 Lu Reeves, The Edge of the Earth, colored pencil. 29 colored pencil of plants and underbrush.

Lu Reeves, The Edge of the Earth, colored pencil

This is a delightful and engaging image that is the result of deep meditation on the minute objects of the earth – literally – the edges of the earth as well as our own awareness. It shows amazing detail in the rendering of a small universe. The overall image is dark and deep and reveals itself slowly through subtle of a color and form. It reminds me of William Blake’s poem “To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.”

Merit Award ($50)

Artist Bertie McClain in front of her merit award-winning artwork at Southern Arts Society's Nature Reconsidered 2021 art exhibit.

Bertie McClain, Nature Plus Man, pyrography and mixed media.

Charming and beguiling, this simple image explores the very essence of nature – the personal response to the magic of nature and the simplicity of our natural perception. The apparent disability of the subject in the wheelchair is dissolved into the freedom and wonderment of even nature’s most basic forms. The wood-burning tool keeps the lines simple direct and authentic.

Trail 2021 Awards

Awards were also given for the “Trail” Photography Competition. The Trail photography competition is sponsored by the Kings Mountain Gateway Trail and Southern Arts Society. This exhibit features photos taken on the Gateway Trail over the past two years.

First Place ($100)

Kathy Livermore, Seeing Red, photography

This seems a perfect title – this image seems to be about the subject – a flower, but instead reveals itself as an abstract investigation of the color red – the subtle shadow on the right-hand leaf reveals the stamen and pistil of the flower as part of the natural flow of the overall image. Red is revealed as wide range of visual experiences brought together into a harmonious and visually stunning whole.

Second Place ($75)

Photographer Alex Pietersen in front of his second place-winning photography at Southern Arts Society's Trail 2021 art exhibit.

Alex Pietersen, Creating a Perfect Circle, photography

After appreciating the overall beauty and elegance of the photograph I realized that the title of this work suggested a performative quality – the artist’s actual action of creating a perfect circle in the pouring of water into water, seems remarkable. This seems to be the start of a series of images documenting rather than simply depicting the nature occurrence of the circle as a natural form – an archetype of unity and one-ness.

Third Place ($50)

Photographer Ellen Devenny in front of her third place-winning photography at Southern Arts Society's Trail 2021 art exhibit.

Ellen Devenny, A Place to Rest, photography

This photograph delivers what it promises – the intentional abandonment of color and concept to provide a calming and serene visual experience. Simple honest and unpretentious this seems to go the basics of aesthetic experience. This sense of simple elegance greatly welcomed after the long task of trying to find the most virtuous images from such a wonderful and diverse exhibition.