Iron Horse turns its walls over to Utah’s Watercolor Society |

Iron Horse turns its walls over to Utah’s Watercolor Society

A wild Galapagos turtle with a hundred tiles delicately shaded in one room, and a heavy, opaque expressionist movement in the next: the paintings featured at Iron Horse Gallery’s month-long exhibit for the Utah Watercolor Society’s 2006 Spring Open Show represents the range of the water soluble medium from the opaque to the transparent.

The nonprofit society formed in 1974 in an effort to "advance the art of painting watercolors" and continues to be a "competitive bunch," according to the gallery’s manager, Robin Valline. This is only one of many juried shows and several of the 52 artists featured at Iron Horse requested specific walls to display their pieces, he says.

The society flew in Don Andrews from Fairhope, Ala., to serve as judge for the show. An active member and past board director of the American Watercolor Society (AWS), the gallery reports Andrews has received three awards from AWS and conducted over 400 painting workshops thoughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.

Friday of last week, the artists gathered at the gallery for an open reception in honor of the competition. Andrews awarded artist Summer Borla "Best of Show" for her piece entitled, "Like Father, Like Son," a painting of a man huddled with his cat in deep purples, reds and greens. "Awards of Excellence" went to artist Osral Allred for "Heritage Façade" and artist Karen Bunkowski for "Heart of Equus."

"It was a great eye opener to see the quality of painters in Utah," Valline said. "They’re all good."

In addition, the Iron Horse Gallery presented three awards to three artists on their own. Two of those paintings have already sold one by Sue Valentine called "Bus Stop" and the other by Sharon Cannon called "Beach Games."

The Iron Horse Gallery-awarded painting that remains is called "Where I Used to Play," also the work of Allred, featuring a scene behind buildings with a car parked on the side, in unexpected, and perhaps unnatural, colors.

When Iron Horse Gallery owner Joyce Plowman was approached by the Utah Watercolor Society, she says it was a unique circumstance, since she typically does not give up her gallery for an entire month. But, "this is different," she says. "This is to support the Utah Watercolor Society."

She explains she appreciates the difficulty of the medium, since once watercolor paint is laid down, typically, "you can’t go back and paint over mistakes."

"I think watercolor an under-appreciated medium in a way," she explains. "This is a special thing for these folks and a big deal to get selected and I thought giving them this space would be new and different and fun."

The Iron Horse Gallery will feature the Utah Watercolor Society 2006 Spring Open Show until May 31. The gallery is located at 1205 Iron Horse Drive, and is open Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call (887) 615-6900.

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