A bold, engaging Fine Arts Show

Published 12:38 am Friday, October 21, 2011

Virginia Finnerty, owner of Pamlico House Bed and Breakfast, and Shelton McNair, view Norm Robins’ “The Milkman,” winner of the 2011 Best in Show award. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)

Norm Robins has never missed a show. For 11 years, his paintings — brightly colored scenes, both nostalgic and energetic — have graced the brick walls of the Washington Civic Center every October, often with a ribbon perched beside them.

This year was no exception. His painting, “The Milkman,” took the biggest ribbon, Best in Show, at the Beaufort County Arts Council’s 2011 Fine Art Show.

This year’s show was a near miss for Robins. His New Bern home was flooded during Hurricane Irene, his studio and much of his work destroyed. Robins rallied — three days before the BCAC accepted submissions for the show — to paint the piece inspired by characters from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“I found a cubbyhole to paint it in,” said an elated Robins. “When I brought it in, the paint was still wet.”

The 47th Fine Arts Show juror, Crawford Alexander Mann III, a Washington native and newly appointed curator of American art at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Va., expressed his excitement with the range and depth of all the artwork he reviewed.

“The Beaufort County Arts Council’s 2011 Fine Arts Show includes an impressive selection of talent and creativity from this community, region, and beyond,” Mann wrote in his juror’s statement. “Many of the best pieces were evident at a glance, but every category was competitive. The winners all demonstrate excellence in the use of their chosen materials, creative choices in subject matter, bold and engaging compositional strategies, and an obvious love of art making.”

The love of art-making is indeed obvious in the many oils and acrylics, watercolors, textiles, graphic and three-dimensional work that poured into the Civic Center on Sunday. It’s in the sun-drenched portrait of a cow, titled “Moo,” by Dorothy McLennan of Scotland Neck, which was so popular it was mistakenly sold twice during the guaranteed-sales portion of the opening reception Wednesday night. It’s also in the whimsical ceramic piece, “It’s a Guy Thing,” by Andree Richmond, of three dogs kicking back, drinking beverages in a boat. The love of the craft is equally apparent in Daniel Mark Cassity’s seamless still lifes, in which his brushstrokes are so delicate they’re nearly invisible. Cassity won two consecutive BCAC Best in Show awards in 2008 and 2009, and both pieces have been nationally recognized since.

One painting deserved double recognition, according to Mann. Winner of the Harold and Louise Lane People Prize — the best entry in any media depicting a person or people — was “Explorer” by David Brown. Mann said the piece, of a young African-American man exploring a shoreline, stood out as the obvious choice for the People Prize, but it also needed to be acknowledged in its category for all the work that went in to the painting’s luminous blend of light and shadow.

“It’s a fantastic show this year,” said Joey Toler, BCAC’s executive director. “There were about 30 less entries than last year, but the quality is amazing.”

All entries in the show are on exhibit at the Civic Center until 5 p.m. Saturday. The winning paintings in each category and special awards will remain displayed until Dec. 22.

Juried work for the 47th annual Fine Arts Show presented by the Beaufort County Arts Council

Best In Show (Frances M. and William R. Roberson, Jr. Award)
“The Milkman” by Norm Robins

Best Entry from Beaufort County (Margaret Hodges Hackney Award)
“Pilgrimage” by Don Miller

Best Landscape in Watercolor (Richard W. Tripp Award)
“Ever Get That Empty Feeling?” by Curwood Harrison

Best Entry that Expresses the River as a Valuable Asset (PTRF Award)
“One” by J. Gary Fulton

The Young Ones Award (Best Entry from an Emerging Artist age 35 and under, given by Richard and Judy Young)
“Paperfall” by Neil Clark

Pottery Award (Irene Glover Forbes Award)
“Time Flies” by Carolyn Sleeper

Textile Award (Franke K. Rumley Award)
“Washington” by Pat Carlson

The Garden World (Washington Garden Club Members’ Memorial Award – given by the Washington Garden Club)
“Carolina Morning” by Verena J. Murvin

The People Prize (Best Entry in any media depicting a person or people – given by Harold and Louise Lane)
“Explorer” by David Brown

East Carolina Wildfowl Guild Award (Best entry depicting Eastern North Carolina Wildlife)
“Running In Circles” by Pat Holscher

The Mark and Suzette Bardill Puchase Award
“Steamed Crabs” by Susan Owens; “Four Pelicans On A Channel Marker” by Susan Owens; “The Three Apples” by Dion Burroughs; “MOO” by Dorothy McLennan


  • First Place: “WiFi Inside” by Jeffrey A. Jakub
  • Second Place: “Queen of the Castle” by Pat Holscher
  • Third Place: “Come Spring” by Douglas Alvord
  • Honorable Mentions: “Stripped & Left For Dead” by Curwood Harrison; “Branson” by Bailey Phelps; “Not Your Typical Roses” by Nancy Ruth Scoble; “Now Departing” by Robert A. Taylor; “Traveler at Dowry Creek” by Karen Van Gamper


  • First Place: ”Spring Sonata” by Terry Rosenfelder
  • Second Place: “Cotton Field” by Susan Owens
  • Third Place: “Explorer” by David Brown
  • Honorable Mentions: “Sea Grass” by Carolyn Barford; “Old Live Oak” by Pat Boyd; “Empties & Openers” by Daniel Mark Cassity; “Fall Reflections” by John Groesser; “Lowland” by Ellen Hoj; “Hydrangea Blues” by Dorothy McLennan; “Baptism” by Art Tyndall


  • First Place: “From The Tower” by Michael W. Ehlbeck
  • Second Place: “Tree Angel” by Johnnie Lee Scott
  • Third Place: “Holliday’s Anchor Watch” by Diana L. Coidan
  • Honorable Mentions: “Birth” by Mary Dementev; “Johnny” by Joshua Holton; “Black Bird” by Robert L. Jones; “Alpha X” by Georgia Mason; “Cold” by Aaron Bradley Pinkham


  • First Place: “Monkey Wrench” by Pamela Zimmerman
  • Second Place: “Fall Into The Mountains” by Annette W. Brooks
  • Third Place: “Back Porch Journal” by Rachel Victoria Mills
  • Honorable Mentions: “NC Tobacco Barns II” by Connie Burke; “George’s Stalker” by Dick Heiser; “Memories of Childhood:  Pray for Japan” by Sarai Anne Maiselle; “Twisted Sister” by Fred Scales