Organizers launch drawing competition

Published 7:16 pm Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The suave secret agent. The bombshell babe in distress or undress. Psychotic villains. Exotic locales.

A license to fill the main gallery of the Mississippi Arts Center.

That’s the real aim of the Greater Jackson Arts Council’s Live and Let Draw Competition: James Bond Invitational.

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The call is out to Mississippi artists for entries in this August show — a first and, organizers hope, annual contest that this year will award a top prize of $1,000. Additional prizes are $300, $200 and some honorable mentions for a total value of $2,100 in cash and gift certificates.

Juried entries will go on display in an exhibition at the Mississippi Arts Center in August and serve as part of the decor for the arts council’s annual Storytellers Ball — with its own Bond theme, “Shaken, Not Stirred” — kicking off the 2008-2009 arts season.

The deadline is June 30 for two-dimensional works — paintings, drawings, mixed media, photography or more — in the spirit of the James Bond theme.

Entries can have three-dimensional qualities, but must hang on the wall for display. Artists can submit photos, digital prints or digital files (no slides or original artwork); there’s a $10 entry fee per piece.

The competition will bring an individual artist element to the Storytellers Ball fundraiser and showcase the arts center, where the third annual ball will be held Aug. 21.

“My thought was, what could we do in the gallery during that time? Being an artist myself, I thought, what a wonderful excuse to give back to the artists of Mississippi and have a competition,” said Sylvia Hale Pooley, development and special events manager for the Greater Jackson Arts Council.

“Since this building is now under the watchful eye of the Arts Council and we’re in the process of the master plan for the rehabilitation and transformation of the arts center of Mississippi into a community arts center, we definitely want to try to start showcasing the building,” said Janet Scott, arts council executive director.

“Our moniker is, ‘Be part of the story,’ and … we try to incorporate everything we do to be a part of the cultural story in Jackson and Hinds County.”

The hope is to charge artists’ imaginations with the same explosive juice that powers James Bond’s cool cars and high-tech toys.

The veneer of elegance and undercurrent of the underworld, different countries and cultures make the creative potential a wide-open field.

Live and Let Draw is wide open for entries, too, and can serve as a training ground for up and coming artists as well as a showcase for more established ones.

Some images have already trickled in.

The Bond Girl tradition — a bevy of leggy beauties from Ursula Andress to Halle Berry in the films — gets fun treatment in Mary Pat Smith’s hands. Bond’s Beauty — All Wrapped Up! drafts the Jackson artist’s own “funky women” to the task. A playful pretty in a polka-dot wrap adopts a sexy, sophisticated pose.

A member of the Mississippi Watercolor Society, Smith entered her first “funky woman” in a Grand National Competition, more or less as a joke, but it worked. “Since then, I’ve gotten in 12 national competitions with funky women and won five awards.”

Ridgeland artist Kit Field is submitting Waiting and Watching, a watercolor of a bartender notable for his smooth, sophisticated demeanor.

“His face had so much character, I thought he’d make an intriguing Bond character,” she said.

Hobby photographer Andrew Willis of Choctaw selected a digital photograph of the Golden Moon Hotel and Casino, picking up on the thread of casinos in James Bond action flicks.

Jackson artist Anthony DiFatta, who’s planning to enter, may revisit his popular martini glass paintings for the occasion. DiFatta, who teaches art at the State Hospital at Whitfield and through the Community Services Stubbs Homeless Program, will also suggest Live and Let Draw to people he works with.

“Much like the theme shows at the Attic Gallery in Vicksburg, this forces artists to come out of their comfort zone sometimes,” DiFatta said, “although that’s not really what I’m doing. But in the past, I’ve done some things in group theme shows that end up leading me to explore the idea further after the show is over.

“As a painter, it’s interesting to me to see how other artists react to the same idea. You always get so much variety.”

The Live and Let Draw exhibition will be on display Aug. 4-30. An artists reception for the show, 2-4 p.m. Aug. 7, will be open to the public. Awards will be presented then.

A $500 people’s choice award will be voted on and announced at the Storytellers Ball.