Fine art exhibition honors artists of all ages, skill

PIQUA — The 29th Annual Piqua Fine Art Exhibition saw over 200 entries from over 100 artists — the largest exhibition the Piqua Arts Council has seen.

“It’s the longest-running program of the arts council. It’s pretty awesome that this is the one that has survived. We have 120 artists represented in the show this year, and it’s just great to have everybody back and do the reception in-person. It’s one of our spotlight events of the year — this reception is really something we put a lot of effort into to show the artists how much they’re appreciated,” Piqua Arts Council Executive Director Jordan Knepper said.

Knepper added that the Fine Art Exhibition is designed to be the most inclusive show that it can be, offering all artists of all ability levels, ages and backgrounds six categories to enter into: 3D, drawing, oil and acrylic, photography, water media, and miscellaneous. While most shows of the art exhibition’s size have to jury entries in order to stay manageable, the art council has set a two-entry limit for each artist.

This years’ exhibition is the first one Piqua senior Paul Hinds has entered. Hinds submitted two entries in photography — “Yosemite Valley,” which was taken during his family’s trip to Yosemite National Park, and “The Olympic Trials, Hayward Field, Oregon,” taken during a camp he attended in Oregon over the summer. “Yosemite Valley” took home honorable mention in photography, something Hinds was excited about.

“It’s pretty awesome. I’m a senior in high school, and I’m 17, so I wasn’t expecting that at all. It’s very exciting and cool,” Hinds said. “I’ve always loved photography, and I’ve always wanted to have my stuff in print to see how it looks. It’s cool seeing it on my phone and on my laptop, but seeing it in matte and in a professional frame is so cool.”

Hinds had expressed an interest in photography since he first started pursuing it in his freshman year in high school. His favorite part of working with photography is capturing moments and memories, something he does as a photographer and videographer for Piqua High School’s athletic department. He hopes to continue that passion into college, majoring in sports marketing and minoring in business at the University of Oregon. From there, he wants to work with the creative team at the University of Oregon and see what he can do there.

On the other side of the coin, retired art teacher Ann Asher is no stranger to participating in galas such as the Piqua Fine Arts Exhibition. She and her husband, Merrill, have participating in the Piqua exhibition for several years. Asher, who taught at Sidney City Schools for 35 years, submitted her piece, “First Sign of Spring,” in photography, as well as “Silver Lion” in drawing. “First Sign of Spring” captures a red tulip peeking out from a soft blanket of snow — a shot that Asher captured in her own yard one winter morning.

“I thought it was so beautiful against the snow, I had to take the picture. I thought it was a perfect angle, and everything was well-balanced — the color and the subject matter. I love plants, and it inspired me to take the picture,” Asher said.

From an art teacher’s perspective, Asher finds that art is in the heart and is a beautiful thing to capture, whether it’s in photography, drawing, painting, or other mediums.

“You have to appreciate that God created the natural things in life, and we need to enjoy them,” Asher said.

As a life-long artist who was encouraged by her father to pursue her passion for art, Asher has imbued the same passion in her students from over the years, taking them to museums and exhibits. She still hears from her students, many of whom are active in the art field today, and says it’s fantastic to see them succeeding.

“That’s the reward that you get, when you teach and you know that you’ve accomplished what you want. I’m so proud of what they’ve become — the people that they’ve become,” Asher said.

Her advice to artists who are looking to enter into exhibitions and competitions is to just go for it and keep trying.

“The judge is the one who decides, but it’s the heart of the beholder that’s looking at it. Just because you don’t make it at one show, another show has a totally different judge and they’re looking for something totally different,” Asher said. “Keep going, don’t get discouraged, and do your best in whatever you do.”

Art from the exhibition will be on display through Oct. 1 on the second floor of Apple Tree Gallery at 405 N. Main St. in Piqua.