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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Paint the Ouachitas

Known for it’s natural beauty and diversity of foliage and wildlife, Polk County has been officially named by the Arkansas Parks and Tourism as a PLEIN AIR CENTER. The term, “Plein Air” refers to artists who work outdoors in the “Fresh Air” as opposed to a studio. Artists gather from across the United States to paint together, network and learn in organized gatherings. It’s a fun occasion for everyone from the beginner artist to professionals. Skills and techniques are shared, while friendships are made.

SouthWest Artists, Inc. and the Mena Art Gallery will sponsor their “3RD ANNUAL PAINT THE OUACHITA’S” Paint Out in connection with their two annual National Art Shows. These premier shows often include painting done by skilled artists in a Plein Air setting, competing with and against some of the top artists in the United States and Canada for attractive cash prizes.

First of the two national shows is the SMALL WORKS NATIONAL COMPETITION. Eighty-five carefully selected, small paintings will be shown during the month of September. The show opens with a private awards ceremony and reception in which a Silent Auction of unique items will be sold. Members and guests are invited to attend. New members registering during the reception will receive a special 16 month membership, as opposed to the usual 12. More information is available at the Mena Art Gallery, 607 Mena Street, or by phoning 479-394-3880.

Following in October is the most professional show of the season, the NATIONAL ART OF THE HEARTLAND COMPETITION, bringing art to our community that rivals that seen in the most professional galleries. More information will follow. This is an exciting and inspirational show you won’t want to miss.

This year “PAINT THE OUACHITAS” will include two separate days, on two varied locations, with lunch furnished each day. The dates are September 30 and October 1, 2017. Registration may be done through the Mena Art Gallery or online here: The locations include a 600 acre cattle ranch through which the Ouachita River flows with picturesque mountain views, outbuildings, fields, woods and, of course, cattle. Next the artists will gather at the Queen Wilhelmina State Park, affording everything from mountain views, wooded trails, to a steam locomotive and rustic stone buildings.
Everyone is invited to take advantage of this annual experience. Come join the fun!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Niki Dempsey

One of the many services that volunteers give to Mena Art Gallery is children’s art education. Niki Dempsey has been teaching our children a love for art (and helping them have a great time while learning) for over six years now.

Niki’s background in art started with growing up watching her father, a professional artist. She went on to art classes all through school and then worked as a professional artist herself in her early twenties.

She started children’s art classes at the gallery for children from 6 to 12 years of age. The popularity of the classes has grown exponentially and Niki realized that there were both younger and older children who wanted art classes, but the needs of the younger students and those of the older ones made it very difficult to find things that would be simple enough for the younger ones and challenging enough for the older ones. Fortunately, a couple of her assistants were willing to take on the young students, leaving Niki able to concentrate on the needs of the older ones.

These teenaged artists have been working for months building paper-mâché dragons. They started by forming the “skeleton” with pipe cleaners and went on to add paper, both construction paper and more traditional paper-mâché materials and techniques. They only have one class per month of two hours, so the process has been slow, but the young people are having a great time and are determined to finish. They are now to the point of beginning to paint their creations, and they look ready to fly and spout fire any day now.

They also take the time to look around the gallery at the work being displayed by older artists and have decided their next project will be twining, a combination of weaving and a sort of macrame. Members of the Fiber Arts group have created small rugs with this technique.

Our heartfelt thanks to Niki for helping to encourage the next generation of artists here in Mena.

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Winners in Mena Art Gallery’s Ouachita Expressions

This year’s Ouachita Expressions art competition brought out some exceptional work by Arkansas artists. Here are the award winners:

Best of Show: Jim Brace – “Greers Ferry Lake”

Works on Paper:
1st – Tiffany Lane – “A Place in the Sun”
2nd – Gilda Meyers – “Un-Spoken”
3rd –  Judith Cantrell – “Lincoln’s Sparrows”
H.M. – Barbara Holdeman – “Hershey”

Works on Canvas:
1st – Carol Flori – “Master and Commander”
2nd – Carolyn MacMahon – “Early Autumn at New Forest”
3rd – Judith Cantrell – “The Stalk”
H.M. – Carol Sheets – “Onita”

1st – Jo Eldridge – “Whiskers”
2nd – Celestra Myers – “Reaching for the Light”
3rd – Patricia Trulock – “Remember”
H.M. – Lowell Thomas – “Lake Milwood in the Fog”

1st – Marvin Gentry – “Nature Finds A Way”
2nd – Jane Brace – “Waterfall”
3rd – Lynn Greenwade – “Yellow Flower Toad House”
H.M. – Jim Brace – “Pan Fish”

Yankee Clipper Award: Gilda Meyers – “Sistas”
Memorial Award (Jimmie Smith) Ouachita Artists, Mt. Ida: Linda Godbold – “Proud Zeke”
Domestic Cat Awards: Niki Dempsey – “Cat Pillow”
Susan Sebren – “Mosaic Siamese”

The Ouachita Expressions work will be on display through the month of August during regular gallery hours of 11 am to 2 pm Tuesdays and 10 am to 3 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays.

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Summer is for Hot Dogs!

And Mena Art Gallery and Atwoods are teaming up to bring them to you. On Saturday, August 12, from 10 am to 2 pm, Mena Art Gallery representatives will be manning the stand in front of Atwoods. One dollar will bring you two hot dogs and a coke.

All proceeds will go to help cover operating expenses of Mena Art Gallery—utilities, insurance, telephone, and all the other things it takes to enable the folks at your local art gallery to bring you exhibits like Ouachita Expressions which is on display now. Ouachita Expressions has been providing local artists a chance to compete for cash awards for over twenty years now.

Come pick up a couple of hot dogs for lunch and then go by the gallery at 607 Mena Street to see the talent and skill of our local artists displayed.

And our thanks go to Atwoods for supporting the gallery as well as to all the volunteers who contribute their time and knowledge to make it possible to keep the doors open. We also appreciate all the local businesses who have contributed to the awards for this exhibit.

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