You’d think after three years and 150-ish portraits, this town would run out of creativity. Nope. It just gets better and better. I’m talking, of course, about Harrisonburg’s annual portrait show, Art Lotto. The super-genius brain child of Brandy Somers and Denise Allen, Art Lotto challenges artists to create portraits — in any medium, really — of other artists. The judges, sponsors, artists, and other special guests get together for a private opening of the show, on the eve of its public reveal.
On this evening, I arrived somewhat early to help an impressive crowd of volunteers/friends/artists convert Larkin Arts into a party space complete with DJ, catered food and beverages, and dance floor. In no time the shelves and counters were removed from the front of the store and replaced with cocktail tables, turntables, and speakers. Grilled Cheese Mania rolled up and prepared an unbelievable spread faster than you can say Classic Johnny, and Three Notch’d carried in two kegs of heaven like they were inflatable pool toys. Brandy, Denise, and Amanda of Sparrow’s Floral Design even made adorable table decorations.
The distinguished guests began to arrive, mingle, eat, drink, and gaze at the dozens of portraits on the gallery walls. Mouths dropped open, shrieks and wows echoed through the space, hearts warmed, and any nervousness about the opening melted away like a warm grilled cheese.
Before long, it was time for Brandy and Denise to announce winners and dole out awesome prizes. Here’s the low down:
Winner of Seeing Double — Valerie Smith’s portrait of Lynda Bostrom.
Winner of Most Creative Medium — Brandy Somers’ portrait of Avery Fary.
Winner of Originality Award — Laura Thompson’s portrait of Greg Sultan.
Winner of Master of Design — Ben Fraits’ portrait of Kyle Herr.
Winner of Kids’ Choice Award — Sharon Skates’ portrait of Laura Thompson.
Winner of Judges’ Choice Award — Zac Nafziger’s portrait of Jay Herr.
Winner of Artists’ Choice Award — Lynda Bostrom’s portrait of Derek Niver.
Here are some fun facts about the evening you might not have known:
1. On the way to Larkin Arts to set up, one of the trophies (created by Ben Fraits) fell over in Denise’s car and broke. She was pretty upset about it. However, it was made of glass, so Zac Nafziger fixed it. He took home that very trophy later that evening.
2. Brandy ate a grape for the first time.
3. Brandy spelled the word “valley” wrong in the booklet, and I missed it when I proofread it for her. (Yep, look in your booklet now.)
4. Valerie introduced us to coconut oil for dry skin as opposed to plain old lotion.
5. The media used in this year’s show included ink, paper, wood, acrylic paint, wax, yarn, photos, glue, recycled paperboard, ebony pencil, charcoal, conté, Sculpey, oil paint, raku fired clay, string, watercolors, found objects, wax, beads, glass, canvas, plexiglass, metal, graphite, plants, film, and cake. THAT’S CRAZY.
After a most enjoyable evening of stuffing ourselves with food, drink, and art, the only thing left was to reassemble the art store and see how the public would respond the next day, on First Friday. We’ll share more in a day or two, but suffice it to say it was a great response! You can see these portraits for yourself now until September 3rd at Larkin Arts, located downtown on Court Square.
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