SilverArts talent is golden
By Mark Wineka
SALISBURY — Janet Isenhour usually does something every day in her art studio at home.
She could be painting with oil or watercolor. She might be building picture frames. She loves to make her own paper for the collages she works on.
People ask her to do portraits of family members or pets. Her work is displayed in galleries, has been part of shows, and she has judged shows herself. Her Christmas angels have been seen for several years downtown.
Isenhour was a novice 20 years ago. Now, at 63, she teaches a weekly Lexington art class, where she once was a student.
Even with this kind of resume, Isenhour takes joy in entering the annual SilverArts competition for seniors.
“I like that it’s open to artists of all levels,” she says. “I personally know a very good artist who had never considered showing his work before as a woodcarver.”
Isenhour encouraged Terry Brewer to enter his carvings in the “heritage arts” section of SilverArts.
“He did, and he was hooked,” Isenhour says. “He takes first place every year.”
The 2012 SilverArts Extravaganza in Rowan County will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Salisbury Civic Center. The SilverArts Awards will be handed out the same day. The public is encouraged to come.
For the record, seniors are 55 and older, and SilverArts is “the celebration of the creative expression of seniors.”
SilverArts keeps growing as a component of the more traditional athletic events of the Rowan County and N.C. Senior Games.
The SilverArts competition has four general categories — heritage arts, literary arts, performing arts and visual arts — but the opportunities within those areas are broad.
Heritage arts call for entries in basket weaving, china painting, crocheting, hooked rugs, jewelry making, knitting, needlework, quilting, stained glass, tole painting, tatting and needle lace, thrown and hand-built pottery, weaving, woodcarving, woodworking and wood-turning.
The literary arts encompass essays, short stories, life experiences and poetry.
Performing arts take in comedy or drama, dance, instrumental performance, vocal and line dance.
The visual arts accept pieces in acrylics, drawing, mixed media, oil, pastels, photography, sculpture and watercolor.
“I know it’s just a one-day show, but it’s fun,” says Isenhour, competing in her eighth SilverArts competition.
She plans to enter works in watercolor, drawing, pastel, collage and mixed-media.
“For a $5 entry fee, there’s no place else you can enter that many,” she notes. “... My goal was to have an entry in every category.”
But her oil piece didn’t dry in time. She usually enters the poetry and essays contests, but “I just didn’t get that together this year.”
Isenhour raised a family and worked much of her nursing career for Dr. Joe Jackson, a Salisbury ophthalmologist. About two decades ago, she decided to act seriously on her lifelong interest in art by enrolling in one of Katherine Skipper’s classes in Lexington.
She remained a student for many years. “This lady does everything, and she does everything well,” Isenhour says of her mentor.
Isenhour’s first love is watercolors, “and I love to paint flowers,” she says. “If I could paint one thing, it would be flowers.”
But she also has become intrigued with abstract art and mixed media, in which she might combine her homemade paper with watercolor and acrylic — something she has done for the upcoming SilverArts show.
Isenhour taught her first watercolor class early last year. And in September, she had the opportunity to teach the same class Skipper had been leading for so long.
“I love teaching,” Isenhour says. “It’s exciting ... and it’s a challenge to come up with something new to present each week.”
Each of her students might be working in a different medium, too, so she has to be flexible.
Rowan County’s SilverArts competitors will be checking in their artwork from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday.
The performing arts dress rehearsal starts at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Judging for entries — the judging is closed to participants and the public — will start at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Then comes the SilverArts Extravaganza at 1 p.m. Friday, with a baked goods auction following the performing arts competition.
As you might have guessed, Isenhour has won local and state SilverArts awards. Any recognition for one’s work gives a feeling of validation, she says, but the journey in getting there is the real reward.
Isenhour has never been able to shake her passion for art.
“It has always been there, like a magnet,” she says.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.