On Aug. 16, the Carroll County Arts Council will hold the opening reception for its 11th Annual Members Art Show, a free exhibition that will run through Oct. 5.
The reception is free to the public and will run from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Carroll Arts Center at 91 W. Main St. Westminster, with wine and cheese on offer and live jazz for entertainment, according to Sandy Oxx, executive director of the Arts Council.
The Members Art Show, which will feature more than 100 pieces of artwork in a myriad of mediums, is a tradition that stretches back more than a decade to when the Arts Council moved into their present location, according Oxx.
"When we bought this building, everyone was vying for space. Everybody wanted to be on the walls and have their stuff here," Oxx said. "The year we opened we had a member's exhibit."
The idea, according to Oxx, was to balance curated exhibitions for the public with open exhibitions that would acknowledge and showcase the talent of Arts Council members.
"There are plenty of people who are not full-time artists, who don't have enough work to fill a show, but have some great unique work," Oxx said.
The art in the show represents all levels of abilities, according to Susan Williamson, visual arts coordinator for the Arts Council, with no screening of work based on perceived skill or character.
"We decided right off the bat that we wanted this to be an egalitarian selection so it is not juried," Williamson said.
William Weaver, of Westminster, was a commercial artist all his professional life and never had much time for painting until just prior to his retirement about 10 years ago.
Now a painter focusing on buildings and people based on the photographs he takes while traveling abroad, the Members Art Show gave Weaver the first opportunity to show his work.
"It's a good place to show work," Weaver said. "It gives you exposure and you do have an opportunity to sell if anyone wants to buy."
In addition to giving artists a chance to sell their work, the Members Art Show also awards cash prizes for Artistic Excellence.
"They did about a dozen of the Artistic Excellence awards," Oxx said. "We hired two outside judges to come in and evaluate the work."
Last year, according to Oxx, the Arts Council added a People's Choice award, voted on by the members of the public attending the opening reception.
This year, the judges will be scrapped entirely in favor of letting each participating artist vote for their favorite two pieces of artwork in the show.
"We're always looking for ways to make things fresh and new," Oxx said. "We thought it would be a nice twist to let these artists see how difficult it is to judge art."
There will be two or three Artistic Excellence awards given, according to Oxx, as well as a People's Choice award, with $100 going to each of the winners.
Oxx said that the voting for the People's Choice award will again take place at the opening reception on Aug. 16, but the winners will be announced at the end of the exhibition in October.
While it is nice to change things to keep them interesting, Oxx said that ultimately it is the long standing tradition and reliability of the Members Art Show that makes it so important to the arts community.
"We all love tradition and I think it's important to have something that a member can count on every year," Oxx said. "It gives them a carrot to work toward throughout the year because they know they will have this opportunity."