brush with greatness: art lotto 2014, private party.

photo“I think this year is the best year yet” was the most frequent comment of the evening.

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.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

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.

art lotto food

food provided by Grilled Cheese Mania. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

food provided by Grilled Cheese Mania. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

art lotto amandaart lotto flowersThe 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.

portrait of Jay Herr by Zac Nafziger. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

portrait of Jay Herr by Zac Nafziger. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Lynda Bostrom by Valerie Smith. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Lynda Bostrom by Valerie Smith, and of Denise Allen by Derek Niver. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Greg Sultan by Laura Thompson. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Greg Sultan by Laura Thompson. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Colleen East by Hannah Sions. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Colleen East by Hannah Sions. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

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.

portrait of Avery Fary by Brandy Somers

portrait of Avery Fary by Brandy Somers

Portrait of Kyle  Herr by Ben Fraits. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Kyle Herr by Ben Fraits. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

art lotto wall 4 bw art lotto wall 3bw art lotto wall 2 BW
art lotto prizes

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

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.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

art lotto merch art lotto glass1 bw

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.

art lotto brandy denise2Thanks to Cara Walton for sharing some photos with us. The hostess was unable to take photos of everything, lol.

Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

more flower to you: sparrow’s floral design.

sparrow floral design collage6

Sparrow’s Floral Design

sparrow floral design DK sparrow floral design ella3 sparrow floral design table sparrow floral design tattooCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

plant one on me: sparrow’s floral design.

sparrow floral design table

sparrow’s floral design

sparrow floral design snipsparrow floral designbwsparrow floral design ella2 sparrow floral design lapCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

leaves in good hands: sparrow’s floral design.

sparrowsflowers signThe simple, lovely flower has long been a source of joy and comfort to us humans. We look forward to spring when we can dig in the raw dirt and plant beauty. In the fall, we sentimentally press those coveted blossoms between the pages of heavy, thick books in the spirit of preservation. In winter, we might delight ourselves in the purchase of a bouquet, just to brighten the dull grayness of the room.

You’ve likely given or received flowers at least once in your life… for flowers deliver a message much larger than you can fit on that itty bitty card. They are nature’s poetry. Flowers transmit feelings – love, admiration, grief. At weddings, the hope tied to catching the bride’s bouquet. An anniversary gift that says, “I love you more than life itself.” During illness or bereavement, the encouraging reminder that life does, in fact, triumph.

sparrowsflowers sauceBrandy and I were invited to a Flower Party and Potluck Dinner hosted by Amanda Tutwiler, owner of Sparrow’s Flowers. It was at Hillandale Park on a lovely evening. We all (14 of us) brought a few stems of whatever bloom we could pilfer and something to eat, and Amanda supplied the vases, greens (for the flower arrangements, not for eating), and of course, her expertise.

sparrowsflowers taco bowlssparrowsflowers food2 sparrowsflowers food1While folks arrived, we chatted about the usual: work and children. We talked about how irritating it is when your kids tattle on each other. I’ve basically told my kids, unless there is blood pouring from your body or something’s on fire, work it out yourselves! (Mother of the Year?) But they still tattle. Maybe I should implement a point system. Each kid starts with, say, five points. Whenever a kid tattles, he loses a point. If the accused is actually guilty of the crime, that kid loses two points. If anyone has any points leftover at the end of the day, he or she doesn’t get rolled up in a carpet and dangled off a bridge (Mother of the Year!). You know, it’s the whole “choose your battles” thing. Anyhoo. Food continued to arrive and we continued to drool… but the guest who was bringing plates and cups didn’t make it, so I hopped in my car and scooted down the street to Food Lion. Once back at the picnic shelter, I was hailed a hero and we chowed down.

sparrowsflowers eatDuring dinner we chatted about the upcoming Art Lotto (can’t wait!!), summer plans, and the show Fargo on FX that I’m completely obsessed with. And then the real fun started. We each grabbed a vase and just started piling in the flowers.

sparrowsflowers vasessparrowsflowers collage1There were irises and lamb’s ear, daisies and azalea blossoms, baby’s breath and peonies and lots, lots more. It was fun, and festive, and pretty, and relaxing, and I thought, this would be a great activity to do at a wedding while waiting for the bride and groom to get to the reception. You know, while they and the wedding party are having photos taken, the rest of the guests could create centerpieces for the tables. Huh, huh? You are free to use that idea, and may I suggest hiring Amanda to facilitate it.

sparrowsflowers arrange1 sparrowsflowers arrange2sparrowsflowers collage2 sparrowsflowers collage3 sparrowsflowers collage4The bouquets were all different and spectacular, and we realized they sorta represented each of us. My arrangement was tall, extending way past the rim of the vase and sorta leaning over to one side. Like me. I heard, “Mine’s all over the place” and “Mine doesn’t make any sense.” And of course, Ella’s was just plain cute.

sparrowsflowers ellaEveryone meandered back to the food table for a last nibble or two, and we all got to bring our beautiful arrangements home, plus a couple of floral sachets, too! My bouquet is still intact, still tall and lopsided, and still just as pretty as ever. It reminds me how nice it is to have fresh flowers in my home. I could get used to it.

sparrowsflowers sachetssparrowsflowers groupYou can contact Amanda at Sparrow’s Floral Design through her Facebook page, or if you don’t have Facebook, you can email her at sparrowsflowers@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.