ELKIN — A senior from Starmount High School was the latest recipient of the Morrison Scholarship prize at this year’s 27th annual Clifford Morrison Memorial Art Competition at the Foothills Arts Council in Elkin. Efrain Salazar, 18, of Hamptonville, entered a unique painting of a skull, very reminiscent to those found in deserts out west.
“I used watercolors and coffee,” Salazar said. With plans to apply to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and UNC-Greensboro, Salazar wants to continue his journey into his art education and said art teacher Andrea Raines is one of his biggest inspirations.
“Efrain is an immensely talented student who has taken many art classes with me from seventh grade to this year when he will graduate,” Raines said. “He had drawn the skull and some flowers a few years ago, and wanted to draw it again on its own as he loved the textures, colors, and complexity. I challenged him to paint using a non-traditional medium, and he selected coffee. We had the pallet wood left over from an earlier project, and the textures made a perfect pairing with the painting!”
The opening reception was packed and applause greeted the announcement of Salazar’s award. Other winners included Nick Wooldredge’s “Rain on the Glass” with first place in photography sponsored by Speedy Chef Restaurant; Leighanne Martin’s “1940s Boy” with first in 2D sponsored by Basin Creek Realty; Julie Gammons’ “Broken” with second in 2D sponsored by Century 21 Hudspeth Properties; Karen Breit’s “Veraison” with third in 2D sponsored by EdwardJones Investments; and Dan Butner’s “Preserving Spring” with Best in Show sponsored by Rhythm On Main’s production of “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 17.
This year’s competition saw a decrease in entries, and discussion followed as to how to revive the contest.
“We used to get 70 entries,” Anne Gulley, member of the FAC gallery committee, said. “We don’t necessarily want 70 entries, but we do need more.” This year there were 21 entries with artists Joan Norman, Austin Bumgarner, Jill Bellia, Tory Casey, Marianne Luther and Gayle Neave Lyles also participating.
It may be that the gallery committee makes some changes to next year’s competition by having all three categories each year — 2D, multi-media/photography, 3D — and awarding one prize in each category and a Best in Show from all three. Gladys Morrison started the competition in memory of her late husband Cliff, a self-taught folk artist. The couple was an active part of the Elkin Artist League and instrumental in the beginning of the Foothills Arts Council. Cliff Morrison died in 1988.
Judging the competition was Jan Detter of Wake Forest University, whose own art was recently shown at the arts council.
“It is always an honor and pleasure to be in a community that makes a gesture of hospitality to the artists in its midst because artists are everywhere,” Detter said. “I love how the Foothills Arts Council supports the artists in the community and pushes for their evolution as humans and creative people. It also helps build a stronger community. And it was fun!”
The Morrison exhibit will be in the gallery until Oct. 7. Gallery hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for lunch, and other times by appointment by calling 336-835-2025.
Next in the gallery will be a Memento Mori exhibit and an altar for Día de los Muertos opening on Oct. 14.