The Smoky Hill Art Exhibition is curated an annual statewide juried fine art competition open to Kansas artists. Original 2-D or 3-D works completed in the last 2 years were eligible. This year's juror was John Hachmeister (juror's statement below)
The 2022 Smoky Hill opens each year as the anchor of the Hays Arts Council Spring Art Walk, which this year took place on Saturday, April 30. Below are image galleries of the exhibition at the Hays Arts Council, all 70 works, and scenes from the opening and 2022 Spring Art Walk.
I am writing this statement on the second most difficult day of judging the 53rd Annual Smoky Hill Art Exhibition! The first one was when the art folders arrived. There was so much intriguing work to chose from. Where to begin? Some photos were not effective. If the images were hard to read, they were set aside. That was the easy part. Next was looking for evidence of genuine engagement in creating the piece. Then it was a matter of looking for insight and surprise. This does become quite subjective. It is that gut feeling we have all experienced, one that is visual and emotional, not intellectual. Unfortunately, such feelings can change from day to day, so I would look and make notes on each piece, then step away from the folders for four or five hours. I repeated this process eight times. Each time some work continued to stand out. Following the eighth go around, I knew what would be in the show.
The second difficult day began when I walked into the gallery! All the art was so vibrant! Some did look quite different from the photos. Choosing cash awards was daunting. (I asked Brenda Meder for an extra $5,000, but, nope, I had to work with what was budgeted.) The pieces I did choose certainly stand out as exceptional examples of the creative process. However, every artist in the show is to be congratulated for what is clearly their dedication, love and fearless command of all that is required to create exceptional visual art.
John Hachmeisteris a studio artist, emeritus professor of art at the University of Kansas and his public service includes caring for the Garden of Eden, Lucas, Ks. He has exhibited in over 100 venues nationally and internationally. He created public art work at Iron Bridge, World Heritage Site, U.K. and two in Jingdezhen, China. His art is in the permanent collection of the Shewan Ceramic Art Museum, China. He is a contributing author to “Backyard Visionaries, Grassroots Art in the Midwest” and “Warmest Regards: Letters to a Young Caster.”
Michael F. Jilg ~ Hays, KS
Skip And Mick
acrylic ~ $3,000
After graduating from Wichita State University in 1965, “Skip” Harwick began teaching at Fort Hays State. Though primarily a painter in oils, he also created works in watercolor, intaglio, ink, and various three-dimensional media. He had many interests and created an artificial marble from which he designed and fabricated jewelry pieces resembling jade or ivory. Skip continued his teaching career at Fort Hays until shortly before his death in 1981.
The HAC proudly hosted a retrospective of Skip’s work in the Fall of 2018, His daughter, Kirsten Harwick Mills, has provided for commemorative Smoky Hill Awards in her father’s memory.
This year, "Cal’s Iron" by Michael Jilg received the award in Skip's honor.
John C. Thorns, Jr. was a professor of art at Fort Hays State University from 1954 to 1990, becoming department chair in 1973. He was a founder and president of the Hays Arts Council and served on the Kansas Arts Commission’s visual arts advisory panel. He was also instrumental in the development of the celebrated Hadley Foundation Art Collection at Hays Medical Center, serving as the collection’s consultant until his death in 2014. John was also a prolific artist and garnered numerous awards for his work. FHSU’s Moss Thorns Gallery of Art bears his name and that of his predecessor Joel Moss.
Warren Taylor, a former student of Thorns now living in San Angelo, TX, provides this special annual award in his name. This year, “Drought Warning” by Danielle Robinson received the award in John’s honor.
Byrnell W. Figler was a talented classically trained pianist, attending the Bavarian Music Academy in Munich, Germany on a Fulbright grant. After teaching throughout the country, he taught and performed at Fort Hays State University for 20 years. As a lifetime member of the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy, he was passionate about the earth and its beauty.
He was also a man of great wit who enjoyed humorous and intellectual repartee. Following his death in 2017, his long-time friend, artist Warren Taylor, made a donation to honor him with “Smoky Hill” awards in his memory.
So, in honor of his zest for life and love of the outdoors, “Biking in a Sunny Day” by Elena Masrour received this award in his memory.
For twenty-three years, Gordon Sherman was a professor of printmaking in the Fort Hays State University Department of Art and Design. He was also a prolific and award-winning artist whose work was exhibited nationally and internationally.
Following his retirement last December, we began working with him on his retrospective exhibition. Sadly, Gordon passed away last summer, but with the support of his family and colleagues, we carried out those plans and celebrated his legacy, featuring his work as the highlight of our 2021 Fall Art Walk.
Through the generosity of his family, we’re presenting two awards in his name – one for “Midnight Visit” by Mike Gross and the other for “The Inner Sanctum” by Angelia Perkins.
Tiffany Adams -Sterling
Brothers Joy Diptych - charcoal & digital rendering (20x24")
$100 Cash Award