Columbia Arts Guild shares beauty in a time of trial
The world, it sometimes seems, can be an ugly place.
Wars, disease, racism, unrest, fear — they feel almost omnipresent in the world of 24/7 cable news, especially when many of us are still spending so much time at home during the shutdown from the COVID-19 pandemic.
To offset all that, the Columbia Arts Guild has provided a tonic — a welcome dose of beauty, talent craftsmanship, humor and meaning — in a virtual version of its annual Spring Art Show.
Posted to YouTube at the end of May, CAG's Spring Art Show was presented in two pieces, the first showcasing paintings, carvings, photography and other mixed media pieces, while the second piece highlighted an animated short film called "A Trophy Hunter."
The Columbia Arts Guild is a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers to promote artists within Columbia County. Its website describes it this way: "The Columbia Arts Guild is a diverse group ranging from professional and hobby artists to those who simply appreciate art. We sponsor a variety of activities throughout the year including pop-up show opportunities, workshops, seminars and field trips."
Guild members show their artwork on a dedicated wall across from the Assessor's Office downstairs in the Columbia County courthouse annex. Each artist has a bio posted and business cards available on site. The courthouse is located at 230 Strand St. in St Helens.
In the video introduction of the show's Part 1, organizers wrote: "Watching the world events, we knew we would not be able to host our annual show as we've done on location in the past. So we put our heads together and decided to change the format to go entirely virtual for the first time. The artists in our community responded."
The show was coordinated by Dana Beliesle and designed by Bonny Wagoner.
In the Part 1 video presentation, 19 different area artists saw their work displayed in a variety of media including: watercolors, acrylics, colored pencil, mixed media on wood, acrylic on carved leather, oil, pencil, digital art, cotton fabric, pastels and photography.
Part 1 also featured diverse entries including a ship in a bottle, pieces made from base wood and acrylic, hand mirrors made of hardwood, hardwood carvings, art made from cotton wood bark and more.
Artists contributing to the Part 1 display included Samiel Anthony, Dana Beliesle, Laura Blackwell, Rob Blackwell, Micheal Brundage, Sean Burns, Phil Fake, Chip Gardes, Janice Kane, Karis Lucas, Dawna Morton, Catherine Ridenour, Loretta Sampson, Margaret Trenchard-Smith, Linda Sprau, Jacob Strout, Bonny Wagoner, JulieAnn Willey and Joan Youngberg.
Part 2 of the annual Spring Show featured "A Trophy Hunter," an animated film directed and animated by Sean Burns, with story by Burns and Bill Jarcho, that measures 3 minutes, 48 seconds in length.
The plot of "The Trophy Hunter" goes like this:
The film begins by showing a big-game hunter with a gun, decked out in gabardine, a Pith helmet and reflective sunglasses as he stalks a rhino. When the hunter finally gets the rhino in his sights, he fires his gun.
After the smoke clears, the hunter is revealed to be a small boy with a BB gun chasing a rhinoceros beetle in his own backyard. After retreating to a corner of his yard, the trophy hunter's imagination takes over again, and looking up through his dark glasses, he spies what appears to be a leopard in a tree. The hunter takes aim, but just before he shoots, the leopard leaps. When it lands on him, however, the man is a boy again and the leopard is revealed to be a house cat who knocks the gun out of the boy's hands and runs away.
Later, the boy hears the call of a bird from a tree and begins to stalk it. As he turns this way and that, his helmet popping up between the branches of the trees, he cocks his BB gun, targets his prey through his scope and fires.
Initially, the air is filled with fleeing birds. Then, after a single feather drifts down, the bird he targeted falls to the ground as well. The boy leans over it, picks it up in his hands, sees its beauty and design, lays it gently back to Earth and covers it with a leaf.
Dismayed by the results of his action, the boy sets his gun down — the barrel resting against the crook of a small tree — and walks away.
Over time, the tree grows and flourishes, and grows around the boy's gun, eventually lifting it up into the air. Eventually, birds build a nest atop the gun, and later, hatch four of the same birds the boy previously shot.
Other contributors to "The Trophy Hunter" were: character and environment design, Kim Slate; art direction, Bill Jarcho; boy puppet fabrication, Jon Hartman and Emily D. Myers; boy puppet costumer, Angela Juarez; boy puppet fabrication assistant, Naveen Alkhatib; additional character fabrication, Bill Jarcho and Sean Burns; storyboards, Tom Price; sound and music, Jason Staczek; voice characterizations, Ivy Staczek; produced by Bill Jarcho for Conscious Cartoons.
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