'Visual poetry' takes top honors in exhibit

July 08, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Mark E. Flowers describes his artwork as "visual poetry - a collection of images that come together as a personal statement." The Mercersburg, Pa.-based artist and art instructor said he used paint, wood putty, digital and Polaroid photographs to create the group of images he considers a metaphor for the choices his 21-year-old son must make as an adult.

"Carson's Choice," was named best of show for the 72nd annual Cumberland Valley Artists Exhibition at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown.

"I was very surprised and very, very happy," said Flowers, 49, who teaches art at Mercersburg Academy with his wife, Kristy Higby. His artwork - which he says is "somewhere in between" realistic and abstract, two dimensional and three dimensional - is part of 25 public and more than 250 private collections.


The juried Cumberland Valley Artists exhibit's three judges picked "Carson's Choice" out of 217 entries. The judges were sculptor Jay Hall Carpenter of Gaithersburg, Md.; Washington, D.C.-based American University art instructor and Watkins Gallery Director Ron Haynie; and Carla Golembe of Florida (formerly of Rockville, Md.), a college art instructor and painter, illustrator, printmaker and children's book author.

Golembe said "Carson's Choice" met her definition of an outstanding piece of artwork - the combination of technical excellence, personal vision and innovative use of materials and imagery.

"There is also that undefinable thing ... when a work of art is more than technique and imagery, when it just grabs you and transcends," Golembe said. "His piece had that quality for me, as well as an intriguing sense of markmaking and color, excellent composition and design. It was also fresh, not trite."

"Carson's Choice" and the 69 other works accepted for inclusion in the Cumberland Valley Artists Exhibition will be on display through Sunday, Aug. 15. Viewers can cast their ballots for the Popular Prize Award, which will be presented to the winning artist at the close of the show.

For more information about Flowers and his work, go to on the Web.

And the winners are...

Winners of the 72nd annual Cumberland Valley Artists Exhibition at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts include:

  • Best of show: Mark Flowers of Mercersburg, Pa., "Carson's Choice" (multimedia).

  • Outstanding watercolor: Clyde H. Roberts of Hagerstown, "Winter Thaw."

  • Outstanding entry in metal: Jan S. Heginbotham of Reston, Va., "Ambi" (bronze).

  • Resident artist of Washington County: H. Margaret Moore of Hagerstown, "Essencescape" (watercolor).

  • Outstanding sculpture: Hilda Eiber of Falling Waters, W.Va., "Kimono #3" (stoneware and glass).

  • Outstanding graphics entry: Pati Hays of Clear Spring, "Winter" (linocut relief print).

  • Outstanding landscape: Mark Poss of Vienna, Va., "Two Trees" (oil painting).

  • Washington County Council of Churches cash award: Carol Mackay Mertz of Fort Valley, Va., "Changing Perspectives #1" (soapstone sculpture).

  • Valley Art Association cash award: George J.E. Sakkal of Ellicott City, Md., "Victory or Death - December 26, 1776" (paper collage).

  • Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust purchase fund award: Donna Mason of Hagerstown, "Backyard Sunlight & Shadow" (oil painting).

  • B.P. Lesky Distributing Co. Inc. purchase award: Anne Gibson Snyder of Braddock Heights, Md., "Ice on Quebec School Road" (watercolor).

  • Honorable mentions: Kristy Higby of Mercersburg, Pa., "Mo" (oil and collage); Mary I.D. Smith of Middletown, Md., "Potato Fields, France" (oil painting); and Roy Steele of Hagerstown, "Taking a Nap" (acrylic painting).

72nd annual Cumberland Valley Artists Exhibition

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

91 Key St.


Exhibit runs through Sunday, Aug. 15.

Admission is free.

Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 301-739-5727 or go to on the Web.

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