With the 57th annual Delta Exhibition closing Sept. 20 at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, a group of approximately 40 artists have joined together to present the first ever, and hopefully annual, Delta des Refusés, the “rejects” of the Delta Exhibition, if you will.
Organized and curated by Rachel Trusty of Russellville, Delta des Refusés opened Sept. 18 at the Argenta Branch of the William F. Laman Library System in North Little Rock. Four artists from the Three Rivers Edition coverage area are among the artists with works in the show.
Trusty, who has entered the Delta Exhibition four times, and been rejected four times, said Delta des Refusés is created in the spirit of the original Salon des Refusés (Exhibition of Rejects) held in Paris in 1863. Among the rejected artists of the Paris Salon were Manet, Courbet, Pissarro and Cezanne, all artists whose works are revered today.
Trusty said 882 works of art were submitted to the Delta Exhibition, and only 72 were selected.
“The Delta des Refusés strives to offer an alternative view of regional art and, like the Salon des Refusés, hopes to give legitimacy to artists who were not accepted into the Delta Exhibition,” Trusty said. “I plan on organizing the show annually from this year forward and will continue to accept all entries that were rejected. This year, we had around 40 participants. My goal is 100 next year.”
Local artists with works in the Delta des Refusés include H. Kirk Beckham and B. Jeannie Fry, both of Cabot, and Melissa Lashbrook and Sandra Marson, both of Jacksonville. Each artist was allowed to enter one piece in the current exhibit, which, Trusty said, is “led by artists and without a juror.”
Following is a brief look at each of these local artists:
H. Kirk Beckham
“My reason for participating in this show is that I am always curious about the pieces that are not juried into a show,” Beckham said. “I know that other patrons of the arts — not simply other artists — have a similar question on occasion.”
Beckham is a native Arkansan and spent her formative years in the Mississippi Delta. She studied art under Evan Lindquist, Arkansas’ first Artist Laureate, and John Keech at Arkansas State University, where Beckham earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree with an emphasis in art. She has taught high school art in New Mexico, as well as Arkansas.
“I have entered the Delta a few times in the last 20 years, but my focus has primarily been my children, who were born in three consecutive years,” she said. “Now that they are young adults, I am focusing on my goals and dreams again.
“I have not entered many juried/competitive shows, but I currently have a piece in an international group show at Customs House Museum in Clarksville, Tennessee.”
Beckham’s entry in Delta des Refusés is a self-portrait she calls Delta. She created the painting using acrylics, Thai paper, charcoal and conte crayon on luan (a type of wood).
B. Jeannie Fry
“The Delta Exhibition is known as one of the most anticipated annual artistic events in Arkansas, yet it is also one of equal controversy among us artists,” Fry said. “The jurors are renowned, and many of us enter each year, striving to be able to finally say, ‘I got into the Delta.’
“Of the 60-plus works that were selected, there were likely three times as many outstanding works, but we also recognize that wall space is limited and that the jurors’ tastes vary each year,” Fry said. “I am happy to participate in [Delta des Refusés] and extend my thanks to Rachel Trusty for coordinating this exhibition.”
Fry is a painter who grew up in Kansas and received early training from watercolorists in the Wichita area. She received a Bachelor of Art degree in education, graduating magna cum laude from Wichita State University, and a Master of Arts degree from Michigan State University.
Fry is a member of the Fine Arts Center of Hot Springs and is president of the Mid-Southern Watercolorists Board of Directors.
Fry’s entry in Delta des Refusés is a watercolor she calls Imagination.
“I am participating in Delta des Refusés because this is a way to still have my artwork seen by others and receive feedback,” Lashbrook said. “I think Rachel’s idea of taking back control over what gets seen is inspiring.
“It’s invigorating to stand up and say, ‘I still believe in this piece. And I have the power to create my own audience.’”
Lashbrook describes herself as “a native Arkansan assemblage artist.”
She said her artistic process began when she was a child and spent time painting with her mother and building with her father.
Now, her primary source of inspiration for her diverse subject matter comes from life experiences and collecting curious things.
Lashbrook studied fine arts at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and the Institute for Shipboard Education’s Semester at Sea. She served a tour of duty in Iraq as a combat helicopter pilot.
She teaches art at both Northside and Southside elementary schools in Cabot. She has exhibited her art work in several group exhibitions, including exhibits at the Texarkana Regional Arts Center, the Batesville Area Arts Council Gallery on Main, Gallery 360 in Little Rock, Emergent Arts in Hot Springs and the Baum Gallery of Fine Art at UCA.
Lashbrook’s entry in Delta des Refusés is a mixed-media piece she calls Nest #3.
“I entered the 57th annual Delta Exhibition feeling that it was the most prestigious show in central Arkansas,” Marson said.
“After working on my art for the past seven years, I felt that I was ready to enter the Delta. I paint nonrepresentational paintings with watercolors on paper. My works were not accepted,” Marson said.
“A lot of the works accepted into the Delta this year were digital images. The Salon in France refused so many artists’ works, the emperor agreed to hold a special exhibition called the Salon des Refusés for artists that had been turned away by the official jury,” she said.
“When I found out about the Delta des Refusés exhibition, I was delighted for an opportunity to show one of my rejected works,” Marson said. “I am looking forward to being in a great show in North Little Rock.”
Marson graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in art. She retired after 36 years with First Electric Cooperative in Jacksonville.
She began creating art full time following her retirement. She is a member of the Mid-Southern Watercolorists, the Arkansas League of Artists, the North Central Arkansas Art League, the Missouri Watercolor Society and the Arkansas Arts Council’s Artist Registry.
Marson’s work can also be seen in a one-woman show, Art by Design, through September at the Cox Creative Center in Little Rock.
Marson’s entry in Delta des Refusés is a watercolor and acrylic on paper titled New Directions.
Delta des Refusés will remain on display through Oct. 19. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. There is no admission charge.
The Argenta Branch of the William F. Laman Library System is at 429 Main St. in North Little Rock.