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Artlink Member Show Highlights Variety of Visual Arts

By Dodie Miller

Fort Wayne Reader


If Artlink’s current member show is any indication, the state of the visual arts in Fort Wayne is definitely healthy. “Usually, we have 50 to 60 pieces in a show,” points out Deb Washler, Artlink’s executive director. “This year, we have 170.”

The annual member show at Artlink (437 East Berry) runs through August 15, and features a plethora of media, subjects, and perspectives offered by the visual art. According to Washler, there are benefits for participating artists. “This show isn’t juried. (Juried shows) can be very subjective. With this show, all (artists) have to do is be a member of Artlink,” Washler says. “We didn’t want it to be too serious.”

For the annual members’ show, members are allowed one submission. But the restriction is numerical only. The creativity exemplified by the works exudes a passion for a variety of visual expression. Pieces created from fabric, digital photographs, oil, pastels and other materials and media complete the exhibition. “Audiences can expect to see everything under the sun that encompasses art,” Washler says. She noted that the styles of works range from abstract to “found-object” art, that is, art created from objects found in everyday life.

The history of the members’ show precedes Washler’s time at the helm of Artlink by nearly three decades. She has been executive director for two years. Artlink is in its 30th year of operation. “The member show,” Washler said, “actually started in someone’s apartment in 1978.”

But Artlink did not become a cornerstone of visual art simply by showcasing members’ work. The members of Artlink work to make the organization a clearinghouse of artistic information. Artlink maintains of list of member artists’ specialties, and when individuals or groups call needing information, a class, or a mural or other piece done, they are referred to the appropriate artist. “We answer odd, random questions about art,” Washler said, explaining Artlink’s role in the community. “We are the catchall of art.”

While the organization’s immediate concern might be the artistic viability of Fort Wayne, it also strives to keep members abreast of events and shows in other parts of the country. “We try to be an information hub,” Washler said of the services Artlink provides to members. “If there is something going on in the visual arts community, we want to know about it.”

The majority of artists represented in the member show are from the Fort Wayne area, but a few consider places as disparate as New York and Alaska home. Leslie White has been a member of Artlink for three years, and has entered work in the annual show for each of those years. The Michigan native works in watercolor and mixed media. For White, the member show is an essential part of an artist’s development. “It’s important to enter (work into the show) because it is important for members to be able to share work,” she said.

Nancy Longmate is a Cincinnati native, who, like White, has been a member of Artlink for three years, and has had a piece in the member show during each of those years. For Longmate, who works in watercolor, pastels and mixed media, participating in the annual event means more than just showing her work. “I participate to support Artlink and the Fort Wayne art community, and to see art and get new ideas,” she said.

Alan McLuckie differs from Longmate and White in that he is a native of Fort Wayne, and he has been coming to the annual show for ten years, but he has only been a member of Artlink for two years. McLuckie is an oil painter who learned his craft from private teachers in childhood, and by visiting museums around the world, his favorite being the Musee D’Orsay in Paris. The member show provides artists with an immediate, large audience, and potentially, responses to the work on display. “An artist, whether (visual) artist or musician, likes feedback,” McLuckie said. “Likes the give and take.”

For McLuckie, the presence of others helps to complete artists’ purpose with their works. “A painter tries to create a window for other people to look into,” he explained.

Brenda Hall-Wilson has only been a member of Artlink since May 2007. She is a board member and an art student at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), where she is completing two four -year degrees, one in graphic design and one in photography. For this year’s show, Hall-Wilson has submitted a photograph of a waterway in Venice. It is important for her as an emerging visual artist to participate in events such as the member show. “My reason for participating is to get my name out as a photographer and an artist, to see other’s people’s work, see what they’re doing,” Hall-Wilson said.

For artists and other interested parties in Fort Wayne and the surrounding area who would like to get involved with Artlink, they can log onto www.artlinkfw.com, where they can print out a membership form and view exhibits online.

The Member Show is available to the public during Artlink’s gallery hours, which are Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m.; Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m., and Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.

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