Watauga Valley Art League hosts Winterfest Art Gallery at Sycamore Shoals

Art is a path of difficulty, but the road is less treacherous when fellow hikers band together to share knowledge and experience of the trails. This kind of community is what the Watauga Valley Art League hopes to foster this holiday season.

The Watauga Valley Art League has been hosting its annual Winterfest Art Show for a number of years, in which members can showcase their creations for display and purchase during the holiday season.

Barbara Jernigan, treasurer for the organization and one of the main organizers of the gallery, said she has been running it for at least 15 years.

“We have several shows every year,” Jernigan said. “This one is meant to show members’ works.”

The gallery features a wide variety of art mediums, including vast landscape shots and small portrait art. One presenter even submitted a sculpture this year.

Next to each presenter’s mini gallery is a small plaque with contact information on how to purchase smaller versions or other printouts of the work on display.

“Many artists sell them as Christmas gifts,” she said.

The art gallery is more than just a chance to show off and sell people’s work, however, Jernigan also said she hopes the event will encourage more people to join the organization. Almost half of the 60 current members are on display this week already.

“We have a lot of older members,” she said. “There is a lot of concern [in other art organizations like us] about younger people taking over after the older members die.”

Though Jernigan said WVAL is more fortunate than others to have the community they currently have, she said they do want to spread awareness of the organization.

“Only members can submit art to be displayed, though the gallery itself is open to the public,” she said.

These members come from all over Carter County and the greater Watauga Valley area.

Jernigan said one of the unique aspects of their gallery compared to others is the lack of a “jury” process. In other words, art does not have to receive prior approval from an internal board before the artist can display it.

“We want artists to have the opportunity to show their work,” she said. “It can be scary for new artists as it is.”

Jernigan said about 90 percent of the art on display is available for purchase in some form.

“Some people get Christmas cards out of these paintings,” Jernigan said.

She said she hopes the community uses the art gallery to realize the artistic potential the community truly has.

“People do not realize how talented the tri-cities artists really are,” Jernigan said. “There are a lot of talented artists in this community who develop their skills doing this.”

The art gallery will be on display at the Sycamore Shoals State Park building at 1651 W. Elk Ave. The gallery will remain on display through Sunday, Dec. 16.

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