Christmas is Coming at Mena Art Gallery

It is time for Mena Art Gallery’s annual Christmas Sale and Show. During November and December, there will be unique and beautiful things to help you fill those Christmas stockings and cross off some of the names on your shopping lists. In addition, there will be many ornaments and Christmas gifts for sale, lots of them for less than $50.

The first weekend of this show coincides with the 2017 Ouachita Arts Celebration (Saturday, November 4) with lots of demonstrations by artists and live music by Jim Brace. The gallery will also have a bake sale with coffee. So when you are wandering among the fun stuff of the Arts Celebration, take time to come by the gallery, browse the work of local artists, and relax with some coffee and goodies produced by our local cooks (they are artists, too!).

And if you have not had a chance to see the 2017 Art of the Heartland exhibit (or if you’d just like to have another look while this fabulous art is still here), the gallery will be open from 10 am to 6 pm this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Regular gallery hours resumes the following week: 11 am to 2 pm on Tuesdays, 10 am to 3 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays.

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Christmas Gift Show and Sale Coming Soon

It’s time for all our local artists to get their work ready for entry in Mena Art Gallery’s annual Christmas Gift Show and Sale. The gallery will be accepting entries on Tuesday, October 31, from 10 am to 4 pm. Any media is welcome: painting, drawing, sculpture, fiber arts, and whatever else you may create.

There are no entry fees associated with this show, and you may enter as many pieces as you like. All must be for sale. Only gallery members may enter, but if you have not yet become a member, you may do so when you bring in your entries. Membership purchased in November or December will be valid through December of 2018.

Most entries should be priced in the range of $10 through $50 as this sale is especially suited for Christmas gifts, although higher-end work is also accepted. If you would like more details or to print an entry form, go to the gallery website: Of course, you can always stop in the gallery and speak to Julie Vande Zande, the Executive Director, or to one of our volunteers. You may also call 479-394-3880 during regular gallery hours of 11 am to 2 pm Tuesdays or 10 am to 3 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Stopping by the gallery has an added benefit: our annual Art of the Heartland exhibit is now on display, and the work is spectacular. Some of the most talented artists from all over the U. S. are included in this exhibit.

And whether you are an artist or not, plan to do part of your Christmas shopping at the gallery at 607 Mena Street.

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Portrait Drawing Class at Mena Art Gallery

Portrait by Douglas R. Graves

During the month of January, Barbara Tobias will have a four-session class on creating pencil portraits. She will concentrate on several things: the effects you can get with a simple graphite pencil (from lines to shading to emphasis and value), the basic proportions for a “generic” face, and how to alter those basic proportions to get a likeness of an individual.

In the class, you will work from photographs, so you will need a photo of the person you want to draw. It can be either black and white or color, can be an adult or child, but should be large enough that you can see the proportions clearly. A three-quarters view is probably easiest to work from. If you don’t have such a photo, you might want to take one with your phone and enlarge it to fit on letter-sized paper. If you need assistance doing this, it can be done in the first class session.

If you are taking Lorraine Timmerman’s drawing class in October, you will already have all the supplies you need. If not, you will need a graphite pencil (I like using a mechanical pencil, but any good pencil can do the job), a kneaded eraser, and a drawing pad. Barbara will supply smooth Bristol Board for your final portrait in the class.

The class will be on Tuesdays, January 9, 16, 23, and 30, from 6 pm to 8:30 pm. Fee for the four classes will be $50, all of which goes to support the gallery. Please call the gallery at 479-394-3880 to reserve your space.

If you have questions about the class, please call Barbara at 479-234-3104.

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Mena Art Gallery’s 3rd Annual Art of the Heartland Exhibition

Chief Thunderhead by Steve McCoy

Each year in October SouthWest Artists, Inc. and the Mena Art Gallery bring what is becoming one of the nation’s finest painting competitions to Mena. Called the Art of the Heartland National Exhibition, it is composed of paintings by some of the top artists on this continent.

Some of the masters of art history began with the inspiration of seeing their first painting of significance. It is the goal of this show to bring that inspiration to those in our part of the state who may never have had the opportunity otherwise to realize the opportunities that lie within themselves. Beyond painting alone, virtually everything we encounter throughout the day started with the development of creativity. When creativity is nurtured, careers in endless fields are opened. This may include anything from architecture, stage design, or cartoons to the design of the very labels seen on the grocery store shelves. Contact the gallery for information about one of their many affordable workshops for all ages. Discover that the arts and the pleasure of creating is at your disposal. You only have to ask.

The show opens with a private reception on Saturday, October 7, from 6 until 8. Gallery hours will be extended during the month of October on Thursdays through Saturdays until 6 pm and Sunday from 12:30 until 4 and closed on Mondays with the exception of private showings by reservation. Local artists whose works were accepted amongst the best are Susan Gibson, Judith Cantrell and Tiffany Lane, competing amongst other Arkansas Artists for the special Van Wolf Arkansas Artist Award of $1,000. The painting that will receive the Best in Show award will walk away with an award of $4,000.

Everyone of all ages is welcomed and encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to see this show. Organizations and art classes may arrange tours by contacting the gallery. Stop by the Mena Art Gallery at 607 Mena Street or contact us. Phone: 479-394-3880. Email:

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Art Classes at Mena Art Gallery

We are fortunate in Mena to have several artists who not only can produce beautiful artwork but can teach others as well. The first class coming up is to show you how to make beautiful wreaths for any occasion. Niki Dempsey is a successful artist in many fields: she has worked as a professional artist, is a trained florist, a talented writer, and is currently teaching a series of classes for teens for the gallery. On Saturday, September 30, she will be conducting a class on making a simple wreath for the fall season. The techniques used for making this can also be used to make wreaths for any other season: Christmas, Easter, Halloween, or wherever your imagination takes you.

The class will be held on Saturday, September 30, from 11 am to 1 pm at the gallery, 607 Mena Street. The $20 fee for the class includes all materials needed to make the fall wreath.

In October, Lorraine Timmerman will conduct a series of four classes on Tuesday evenings: October 10, 17, 24, and 31. Each class will run from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Materials required are: drawing tablet (acid free paper), graphite pencils (HB, 2B, 4B, and 6B or Ebony), and a kneaded gum eraser. The fee for the series of lessons will be $50.

The classes will focus on value, composition, perspective, and improving your work. Many of you have probably seen examples of the beautiful drawings and watercolors that Lorraine does, and she is very good at sharing her skills.
Then in January, Barbara Tobias will do a series of four classes on creating pencil portraits. For these classes, we will cover the various effects you can achieve with a graphite pencil, types of pencils available and what they do, common facial shapes and sizes, and how to adapt these to get a good likeness. These classes will also be on Tuesday evenings (although we can select another day or time if enough of the class prefers). A fee of $50 will cover all four classes. The materials for Lorraine’s drawing class can also be used for this one or you can take the class with just a graphite pencil, a kneaded eraser, and a sketch pad.
Space is limited, so reservations are in order for all these classes. Please call the gallery at 479-394-3880 to reserve a space.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Missy Williams

Missy Williams loves to knit and loves to help others find as much joy in “tangling up yarn” as she does. She volunteers at Mena Art Gallery each Saturday afternoon to lead the Fiber Arts group: several people who are enthusiastic about the various kinds of art that can be made from fiber.

There are a few who like to spin, creating beautiful yarn from the fleece of sheep, llamas, alpacas, and goats to name just a few of the types of yarn that can be produced using local animals.

One or two others enjoy crochet; some prefer embroidery; others like to dabble in a variety of fiber arts; and of course there are several other knitters.

As Mena Art Gallery is a non-profit organization, it is primarily staffed by volunteers. There is one part-time employee, Julie Vande Zande, the Executive Director. But Missy and her crew make sure that the gallery is open for everyone to come in and enjoy the art on display each Saturday afternoon from noon until 3:00 pm.

Missy started volunteering at the gallery in order to start the fiber arts group. She particularly likes having an opportunity to visit with the people coming in and learning things from them about the area. She and her husband (who is a manager for Walmart) lived in Mena for a couple of years about 10 years ago. They are back for a second stint with the local Walmart.

Her plans for the Fiber Arts Group include possibly doing a Fiber Arts exhibit at the gallery in 2018. In the meantime, she is willing to help anyone interested in knitting, and does a great job of that.

Missy says, “I want this to be a place where people can come together, learn from each other, and have fun and make new friends in the process.” The group is open to anyone interested in these things. If you would like to learn more about fiber arts or the group, just show up at the gallery on Saturday afternoons from noon to 3 pm.

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Small Works Painting Competition

Today’s trend in art, with artists, collectors as well as interior designers, has moved toward smaller sizes. As these are less expensive, most anyone can afford to own original paintings by up and coming or even well established artists. Even in the smallest homes, one can have a nice collection grouped in a small space.

“SMALL WORKS” is an exciting competition of approximately eighty five small paintings that will be on display during the month of September at the Mena Art Gallery. Artists from as far away as Canada have competed for cash prizes in this, a national show. Its success confirms plans to make this an annual, national event.

The show opens September 9, with a special, invitational “Plus One” party for members and guests. All members are urged to come and bring a guest. Surprises are in store. Guest who sign up as new members during the party will get a 16 month membership, instead of the usual 12. Guests will have the opportunity to shop and bid in a fun filled SILENT AUCTION complete with a variety of items, ranging from fine art to some affordable surprises. During September, gallery hours have been extended on Friday and Saturday until 6 pm. For more information stop by or call the Mena Art Gallery.

In 1946, SouthWest Artists, Inc. was organized in order to provide a place for the enjoyment, development and appreciation of the arts for every citizen of Polk County. From children’s classes to the most professional national shows, there is something at the Mena Art Gallery for everyone and everyone is welcomed. We invite you to come in often and enjoy the ever changing exhibits there.

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