2023 ‘GAVA’ exhibition drew in artists all over Texas

Gainesville’s annual week-long fall art exhibition had 247 entries of art this year.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 5:13 PM CDT
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GAINESVILLE, Texas (KXII) - Gainesville’s annual week-long fall art exhibition had 247 entries of art this year.

You don’t have to be a local to enter, artists can submit up to four pieces of art. “We have artists from Wichita Falls, Paris, Texas. We had an artist from around Austin area drive all the way up to Gainesville to submit their art,” said Joe Conner, president of Gainesville Area Visual Arts. She said that the organization started art shows about 10 years ago, and it’s been growing. “We had a bunch of people. We had over 6000 in prize money, so presenting all the awards took about an hour because there were so many this year.”

As for awards, Conner said there were plenty to give out... “We got to do our own awards and we have a guest judge, and he judges in four categories. So that’s traditional art, contemporary art, three dimensional art photography, slash digital. So we have a first, second and third and two honorable mentions for those awards. And then we added local business awards probably about five years ago, so I head up all the local businesses and they come in and judge, they pick their own favorite and then they give their own prize,” Conner explained.

Any artist is welcomed to submit their art, Conner said that “[they] don’t separate the student art, [they] have it mixed in with the adult art, so they are able to win the major prizes, and [they] had a student win Best of Show this year.” The student is 16 years old and she won three awards.

A few award winners stuck around Sunday, for the last day of the exhibition this year.

Pottsboro artist, Donna Dollyhigh, uses coconut bowls from coconut palms from the US Virgin Islands to make fish. She entered four fish for the exhibition. “This is Kahlua and she has a sea urchin eye and I paint with acrylics in metallic paint, and then I have three other fish. I call one fish fantasy, and one is called Diva, and she’s beautiful and she’s large, a little bit different shape. I have one called Margarita, Very bright colors, and then I have one called Cooper, and that’s a little bit different size, a little bit smaller. But I do custom and if someone wants me to paint a special fish for them, I ask them what name they want and a little bit what colors are in their decor and we go from there,” she said.

It was Dollyhigh’s first show and she took home the local love award.

Garry Goerdel traveled three and a half hours to enter his art in the exhibition. He painted watercolor professionally for 37 years... but now he’s retired. “What I’m doing in my own studio is what I want to do. I had 37 years of other people telling me what to do...” now, he’s getting back to doing what he loves, which is using oils.

His submissions reflected his background. “A lot of most of my paintings reflect some part of my background, just like some of these other paintings I have here. They reflect a different part of my upbringing, but it’s mostly in my head,” he said. All of his different paintings can be found on his website.

Tina White didn’t expect to win an award...

She made her piece with colored pencils, and she was inspired from a an event she went to years ago... “I was judging a horse show in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a few years back, and I went a couple of days early just to take photos around the area and the Gathering of Nations powwow was going on and which is, I think, the largest national powwow that they have. So I went and I was sitting up and it was in a costume. So I was sitting up in the stands and I saw this little boy, he was maybe three years old. It looked to be like his first time dancing, and he was with the older kids and he was so nervous and so afraid, and his parents were kind of standing behind him, encouraging him. And he was just standing there waiting for the music to start. And I just love the expression on his face because you could tell he really wanted to do it, but he was really nervous to do it, but once the music started, he did an excellent job and I got some really great photographs of him,” she explained.

White said that she felt like this year was the right time to submit her work... “I’ve had the photograph for a few years, but I hadn’t done any artwork from it because I didn’t feel like my talent was to the point where I could do it justice. And so in January of this year, I thought, okay, now I’m going to try and hopefully I won’t mess it up, and then to have it win an award, it just made me very happy,” she said.

Joe Conner encourages all artists to participate in the next year’s exhibition, saying “every artist is nervous about submitting their art to a show. Just do it. We’d love to encourage new artists, and you never know. You could win an award.”