Winter scenes are people's choice at Winterfest Art Show

John Thompson • Dec 5, 2017 at 10:05 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Watauga Valley Art League held its kickoff reception for this year’s Winterfest Art Exhibit on Sunday, and the winning paintings in the People’s Choice selection certainly reflect on the winter.

All three of those winners have a wintry or Christmas theme this year, and two include animals in the picture.

One of the paintings humorously combines all three: winter, Christmas and animals. Jim Stagner won lots of support with his painting of a couple driving home after what seems to be a bout of Christmas shopping. Instead of people, Stagner uses cats in his painting, “Christmas Rush.”

The pair of cats appear to have started their day with the proper Christmas spirit. Both are wearing Santa Claus hats and there is a big Christmas wreath with red bow on the front of their blue Volkswagen Beetle.

But the day of shopping appears to have taken its toll on the tomcat. His eyes are green and he has the look on his face that cats usually display when a small bird lands nearby. His aggressive drive home appears to have his mate on the edge of her seat, with both her eyes big and round, giving the look a cat shows when the neighbor’s pit bull surprises her.

Animals in winter are also featured in “Show Fox” by June Simmons. She painted a scene of a pure with young fox looking over a snow drift. It stares intensely into the viewer, but the gaze is not threatening. iI is the look of the young and innocent, curious about this strange two-legged being it is seeing for the first time.

“Snow Day” by Norma Proffitt is a People’s Choice award without animals or people. It is a scene familiar with any East Tennessean. It depicts a cold winter day with deep layer of snow covering rolling fields of an old farm. There is a red-roofed barn partially hidden behind a hill and purple mountain off in the distance.

There is a dense grove of tree on the far edge of the field. A tangled and rusty barbed-wire running between old fence posts gives the impression the field has not been grazed in many years.

While winter is the predominant theme of the People’s Choice awards, there are paintings showing scenes from all seasons There are lots of other themes the artists have chosen, including religious paintings, landscapes, animal scenes, depictions from historical events and nostalgic scenes.

Many scenes are familiar to East Tennesseans, but some familiar scenes capture something unfamiliar to even the most seasoned residents. One example is “Smalling Road’s Unique Barn” by Angie Shepherd.

The painting shows a fall scene on Smalling Road. The colors and the landscape are certainly very familiar, but the hexagonal barn certainly is unique.

Another fall scene is more familiar but still a rare piece of beauty. Joyce Manuel’s “The View” depicts Watauga Lake as scene on a beautiful fall day from a mountain 500 feet above the mountain-rimmed lake.

It is a show in which some of the best works by some of the region’s best artists can be viewed side by side. Most of the paintings are for sale as unique Christmas presents.

Side by side with the art show is the annual Christmas Wreath Exhibit, featuring wreaths made by hand by several Carter County organizations. The wreaths add to the beauty of the art show and also provide some decorating ideas.

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