Professional artists who have achieved acclaim far beyond Arizona's borders will show their work at home in "A Centennial Canvas: Paintings by Contemporary Prescott Artists," which opens to the public Saturday at Sharlot Hall Museum.
Artist Sheila Savannah conceived the idea for the special showing. She believed it to be "a perfect match for local artists to depict scenes of the history of Prescott and the county's" - in an exhibit coinciding with Arizona's 100th anniversary of statehood. She suggested to artists that they portray mining, ranching, the Yavapai County Courthouse, the courthouse plaza, Granite Dells, Granite Mountain and other significant aspects of this area's rich history.
Each artist could interpret his vision in his own way, Savannah said. The 10 artists in the exhibit include Savannah, Bonnie Casey, Douglas Miley, Rafe Terry, Cynthia Rigden, Shawn Cameron, Kathy Quick-Anderson, Eric Slayton, Doug Oliver and Dave Harlan.
"They are all professional artists who have exhibited in other museums and major galleries and in major national exhibits," Savannah said, adding this group of artisans has also gained fame in magazines and books.
"We have so many artists who live here, but they often show out of state. Most local people don't know we exist," she said. The centennial exhibit at Sharlot Hall Museum will "showcase artists who live here and know Prescott's history - it's a natural thing for Sharlot Hall Museum and appropriate for a centennial exhibit."
Casey, who lives in Chino Valley, has established herself as a painter of Southwestern scenes since her move to Arizona from Chicago in 1984. She and each of the other nine artists have two paintings in the show.
Her two "cowboy" pieces, one portraying a roping arena in Chino Valley and the other a cowboy herding cattle, illustrate her "freedom style with fluid brush strokes rather than pure impressionism."
They are "pretty expressive," Casey said, "and they fit in the Sharlot Hall Museum exhibit."
To Savannah's surprise, there are no duplicates in the exhibit, even though the subjects of the artists' painting are unique to Prescott and its environs. One is of the Frontier Days Rodeo, another is a ranching scene and still others are of Granite Dells, Ft. Misery on the Sharlot Hall Museum campus and the elk atop the Elks Opera House, which Savannah submitted for the exhibit, calling it "Prescott's Guardian."
Savannah describes her style as "representational impressionism."
Her work, she said, "is not photo realistic and not abstract, still representational but in a looser, softer way, with 'painterly' strokes instead of tight photo realistic painting."
"Eclectic" is museum chief curator Mick Woodcock's description of the show that he organized.
"These artists all have different styles and different subject matter - horses, cows, landscapes - done from their own perspectives. We gave them general guidelines and they took it from there. They're artists."
While the artists in the Sharlot Hall Museum exhibit focus on honoring Arizona's centennial year and Prescott and county history, their careers speak of diversity. Harlan has had a one-man show in London, England; Slayton is in the Art in the Embassies Program and has shown in the White House and foreign embassies; Terry, an acrylic master, is known for his large contemporary Southwest landscapes and florals; Miley's Hudson River style has made his Grand Canyon paintings highly prized; Cameron and Rigden both come from pioneer ranching families and are so accomplished that they have been included in prestigious Priz de West shows and Cowgirlo Up! in Wickenburg; Oliver is known nationwide for his soaring colorful skies; and Quick-Anderson has lived and worked in Arizona for 60 years and mainly paints the cattle and horses she has known from breeding them.
Miley, whose style is romantic realism, chose to paint a cowboy for one of his pieces and Prescott Victorian Society re-enactors in period costumes for his second work.
"I think this exhibit makes people aware of our heritage," he said. "It will spark people's interest in our history."
"This will be an historic exhibit," Savannah echoed, "and people who want to own a piece of history of the state centennial" can buy these paintings.
A portion of the proceeds will support Sharlot Hall Museum. "A Centennial Canvas" runs until Sept. 3 at the museum, 415 W. Gurley St. Admission is $5 for adults and free for museum members and children younger than 18. For information, call 445-3122 or log onto sharlot.org.