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Celebrating 51 years… Watauga Valley Art League hosts member show and sale at Sycamore Shoals

The Watauga Valley Art League missed out on the opportunity to celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2020 due to COVID but that hasn’t kept the members from working hard to get their annual member show and sale back on track entering 2021.

Members were busy on Friday hanging final pieces of art at Sycamore Shoals State Park as their art will be on display and ready for purchase beginning Sunday, June 18th and running through Sunday, June 27th.

“It’s slow going right now as people are a little bit hesitant because of COVID and we have not had the turnout that we normally have,” said Judy O’Hara. “I have been personally calling people to get this going again and to come back and it has worked as many people have returned.

“It’s important to get back into it because I find people after a year of doing nothing that they get used to that and have settled into that routine, but we have to get back into it.”

O’Hara has been a member for close to 18 years as she joined when she retired and moved to the area from Michigan. She shared how that many of those who were members when she first joined have now passed away or gotten too ill to participate or might be in nursing homes now.

“A lot of the people were older,” O’Hara reminisced. “One of the members that were in it and is still around but can’t be with us this year has people come and look for his work. He just said he couldn’t do it due to having to take care of his wife and things like that.

“I have just seen a loss of the older members.”

With the older members unable to participate like before, O’Hara said that the WVAL has been reaching out to younger people to come and become a member.

Currently, there are approximately 60 active members but O’Hara said they would love to have many, many more. 

“People are so busy but we are getting younger people. Whenever people come in, we try to give them applications. We ask if they paint or create art,” O’Hara commented.

“You have to be 18 years of age to join but we are wanting to reach out to younger people and we at one time were trying to set up a student show.”

She added that a lot of young people are turned away from art due to hurtful comments and never pursue art any further.

“We try to get them interested because a lot of younger people get stifled in their younger years because people tell them their art is not good enough and even though they say things like I can only draw stick people and things like that,” O’Hara shared. 

“It’s really in the eye. You learn techniques but learning how to see it and learning to look at things. We like to encourage and teach but never put down.”

The show is open Monday through Sunday 9 am to 4 pm.