Amy R. Peterson: Plein Air Paintings

Plein Air painter and Birmingham artist Amy R. Peterson will display her new collection of work at Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts January 8 through February 15. The gallery talk will be Sunday, January 13 at 1PM. Amy R. Peterson’s paintings combine strong draftsmanship with loose, impressionistic brushwork. She aims to capture the immediacy of a moment in time, portrayed in a classic, timeless way. The result is a work of art that will endure.

Amy paints extensively from life, including still life subjects, city scenes, and landscapes primarily in the Southeastern United States. She received strong academic training in the visual arts at the University of Notre Dame where she graduated in 2005, and has since pursued a professional career in the arts.

Amy is a member of the Oil Painters of America; the American Impressionist Society; the Alabama Plein Air Artists; and the Mountain Brook Art Association. She serves on the Art and Sculpture Committee of Aldridge Gardens and volunteers with the art program at First Light, Birmingham’s only 24-hour shelter for women and children. She is represented by the Beverly McNeil Gallery in Birmingham. 

“As an outdoor enthusiast and conservationist, I value plein air as an opportunity to document a place in time, on canvas, immersed in the weather, the season, and the uniqueness of each location. I rely greatly on my plein air experience to infuse my studio paintings with light, life, and confident brush work. The lessons from plein air painting are innumerable and, while my current work is largely based on photographic references (as a parent of three young children, working from home), painting from life remains my greatest teacher.”


Works by Jean Schulman

A collection of artworks by Jean Schulman is on display and for sale in the Wright-Douglass Annex of the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts. The collection is available for sale through December 28. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the art center. Schulman is known for her clay batiks and unique natural color palette. Schulman was a pioneer for art education  in the Shoals at a time when art was not considered a priority in public schools. Schulman, now ninety-one years old, considers her work as an educator as one of her most important contributions to the art world. 

“My word does not fit into a single category, however through my research, I feel that I fit into the broader perspective of historical information and contemporary art. Now I am seeking to gather new knowledge, to break new ground and make information available to others,” Schulmann shares. 

Schulman’s eye for design is communicated across mediums of clay, watercolor, and collage. Her batiks are typically abstract renderings in southern clay. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Museum of History and Technology in Washington D.C. and over one hundred private collections around the globe. She has won extensive awards for her innovative approach to both education and design including the Alabama Governor’s Award in 1985.

Piecemakers Quilt Guild Challenge

The Shoals Piecemakers Guild Quilt Challenge ’18 ushers in the winter with quilts themed for this festive time of year.  This year makes the 30th year for this Challenge. The quilts are open to the public on November 13 and display through December 28. Please stop by Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts to vote for your favorite! 
This year’s winners are as follows:
Sara Foster: Best Piecing, Best Machine Quilting, Best Use of Color, and Favorite Quilt
Deborah Douglass-Brown: Best Machine Applique
Mary Margaret Specker: Best Hand Quilting, Best Embellishment
Marion Williams: Best Use of Theme
Karen Risner: Most Innovative
The Shoals Piecemakers Quilt Guild meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Florence. New members are welcome. Quilters of every level of expertise including those interested in promoting the collection and preservation of quilts are part of the Guild. 

From One Earth: Cotton and Clay

From One Earth: Cotton and Clay, an exhibition of pottery and quilts by Guadalupe Lanning Robinson is on view at the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts from November 8, 2018 – January 02, 2019. An opening gallery talk with the artist will happen Thursday night, November 8 at 6PM. 

Robinson’s studio is located at the historic Lowe Mill in Huntsville. Robinson was awarded the award for Artist of Distinction at the Kentuck Festival this year. She has shown in many arts festivals and museums throughout the Southeast. Her Mexican-inspired pottery and quilts bring pattern and texture to life.

“Bringing together my Mexican heritage with the richness and tranquility of the Deep South has enriched my life. This constantly moves my work toward blending the two cultures,” Guadalupe explains. “Continuous respect for the material is a factor I try to maintain in my work.   I also have a great reverence for the idea of “craftsmanship” and it is an strong element when creating my work.  My work has developed from the respect I have for clay and the joy I experience when working with it.”


Art Expressions: Shoals Artist Guild Annual

Art Expressions, an exhibition of works by members of the Shoals Artists Guild, will be on display at Kennedy-Douglass Center of the Arts in Florence from October 2 through November 2, 2018. Join the artists for an opening reception Sunday, October 7 at 1:00 p.m. The exhibit will also be open the weekend of the Alabama Renaissance Faire, October 27 and 28, during the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.

This group of nearly thirty artists was founded in 1952 and includes members who work in a wide variety of media and with many different styles and techniques. The exhibit will include paintings in oil, watercolor, pastel, acrylic, and mixed media. This year’s judge will chose nine pieces as award winners – 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, three honorable mentions, and three Merit Awards.

The guild meets the third Friday of each month at the arts center for demonstrations of new art techniques and discussions of current trends in the art world. Members are welcome to stay after meetings to sketch or paint. The Guild maintains a permanent gallery of original paintings and prints on the second floor of the arts center and displays work at several other area locations. New members are always welcome.

Floriography in 3 Translations

Eve Styles

Floriography is the language of flowers, a tongue familiar to artists Eve Styles, Amita Bhakta, and Nadene Mairesse. All three women work in mediums concentrated in the organic beauty of the natural world. The show will open at Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts September 4 and run through September 24, 2018. A gallery talk with all three artists will be the evening of September 6 at 6PM at the art center. 

Textile artist and eco, sustainable fashion designer, Eve Styles has created a signature style by foraging for designs in the wild and incorporating them into natural pigments and patterns embedded into her fabrics. Also known as Eve Skywalker, her intuitive fashions have become synchronous with the organic color, form, and pattern of plant life. 

“Textiles really excite me, contextually more than other visual stimuli, because the language there is mostly, arguably, for women to signal their identity & emotions to other women. It is an intimate & subversive visual language! Like flowers themselves, which are not for our eyes, but rather for the compound eyes of insects. Beautiful to us, not for us. But imagine for a moment the experience of a flower, as it was meant to be experienced, by an insect! An enormous, scented, pheromone-laced, neon Vegas mattress, signaling where to land and dappled with food and drink, a communicate between the two speaking the language of flowers. The same visual stimuli of flowers similarly draws me in as a designer to interpret theirs and my story through textiles.” – Eve Styles

Nadene Mairesse is somewhat of a Renaissance woman with a background in design, architecture, and community development. She is known for her color work with textiles and natural pigments through her company Idyllwilde. Mairesse also utilizes organic materials in her conceptual artworks. 

“Found in abandoned lots, country roadsides, and fallow fields are the common flowers, leaves, nuts and stems that I use to create dyes and inks for my textile work. I map my encounters with plants; their location and schedule of bloom and decay inform the color I may harvest at any given time. My studies of plant form, location, and pigment are not only a resource for future color gathering, but a way for me to better understand my place in the world of living things.” – Nadene Mairesse

Amita Bhakta is an interdisciplinary visual artist with expertise in narrative expression. Her works typically employ mixed materials to bring continuous flow and dimension.  Her recent works in clay are centered on the beauty of the natural form, texture, and life cycle of plants. 

“Observing nature with upmost gratitude is a form of a prayer,” my grandfather would quote, the words of Tagore’s, as we sat watching sun go down over flatland of Central Texas. Those words became my mantra, hence my love affair with nature begun. Clay and paint are two of my favorite mediums to express the narrative of my heart, the work in this exhibition are my prayer offerings.” – Amita Bhakta

Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts is located at 217 E. Tuscaloosa St., Florence and is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission is free. For more information call 256-760-6379.

“The Implied Narrative” by Ke Francis

Tupelo artist, Ke Francis presents “The Implied Narrative,”  a series of etchings, engravings, hand-made books and paintings at Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts August 27 – September 24. Francis will give a gallery talk and narrative reading Tuesday night, August 28 at 6PM. Francis’s colorful compositions bring familiar Southern symbols to life. Motivated by a graphic style and love of story, his bold creations of place and character vibrate with motion and plot.

Approaching Storm: Mississippi (engraving) by Ke Francis

Ke Francis is a narrative artist who has been actively producing artwork for more than fifty years. His books, paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures are in over thirty major public and private collections including the Getty Museum, the National Gallery, the National Museum of American Art, the High Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Fine Art, the San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art, Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library, the Van-Pelt Dietrich Collection, the Polaroid Collection, and the Ginsburg Collection in Johannesburg. He has exhibited with, collaborated with, and curated exhibits with some of the most influential artists of this century, including Sam Francis, William T. Wiley, Bill Christenberry, Terry Allen, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Wendell Castle, Albert Paley, and  Robert Stackhouse. His creative works in bookarts, painting, printmaking and sculpture have won grants and awards from the Rockefeller Bellagio Study Center, The Southern Arts Federation, The Susan B. Herron Award (Mississippi Arts Commission), the Beck Foundation, the Polaroid Foundation and the Deep South Humanities Council.

Francis resides in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he and his wife Mary are the co-owners of HOOPSNAKE PRESS, a fine art press that publishes artist books and prints.


House & Home 

Exhibit June 18 – August 9

special programs July 12 & 14

NEH On-the-Road Exhibition created by The National Building Museum, Washington, DC, in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance
Curated by Sarah Levitt, Curator, The National Building Museum

What makes a house a home?

Throughout American history, people have lived in all sorts of places, from military barracks and two-story colonials to college dormitories and row houses. Drawn from the flagship installation at the National Building Museum, House & Home embarks on a tour of houses both familiar and surprising, through past and present, to explore the varied history, and many cultural meanings of the American home.

The NEH on the Road version of House & Home draws on themes originated by the National Building Museum to encourage visitors to explore how our ideal of the perfect house and our experience of what it means to “be at home” have changed over time. The exhibition includes domestic furnishings and home construction materials, photographs, “please touch” interactive components, and films. Together, the objects and images illustrate how transformations in technology, government policy, and consumer culture have impacted American domestic life.

House & Home presents an overview of architecture styles and living patterns that have been featured in American homes over the years. Quotes, toys, and other graphic advertising materials prompt visitors to think about the different ideas embodied in the words “house” and “home.” The exhibition also showcases domestic objects–from cooking utensils to telephones–and traces how household goods tell the stories of our family traditions, heritage, and the activity of daily living.

Another key section of House & Home explores how different laws, historic trends, and economic factors have impacted housing in America. The American Dream, once more generally seen as an aspiration to prosperity, grew in the 20th Century to be synonymous with home ownership. Visitors learn about the economy of housing and how homes have been promoted and sold. Issues of housing inequality, land distribution, and the role of the government are examined, from the Colonial period though the Homestead Act and the creation of the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s; and from the Oklahoma Land Rush to the subprime loan crisis. Related sections of House & Home looks outward, exploring the relationship of the individual house to the larger society by presenting examples of contemporary community development through film.

Video and film features immerse audiences in a nationwide tour of residential buildings and community developments that reflect contemporary trends. From futuristic dormitories to post-Katrina communities built on shared interests in music, the images evoke the experience of residential space and illustrate the evolution and diversity of American domestic architecture, design, and community. In its scope, content, and presentation, House & Home moves beyond the bricks and mortar to challenge our ideas about what it means to be at home in America.

“Our Neighborhood”

July 12, 2018, 6PM

Florence Indian Mound Museum
Join us for a panel discussion about what makes a neighborhood and how we connect to each other with old and new communities. Panelists are:
Mary Shell, Alabama Historic Commission
Melissa Bailey, director of planning and development for City of Florence
Jason Fondren from KPS Group

“Our House”

July 14, 2018, 1PM – 3PM

Florence-Lauderdale Public Library 
We invite families to sign up to create a scrap book for “Our House.” Families will pre-register for this event at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library beginning June 14 and receive a packet to complete before the scrap booking session. Time will be allowed for sharing the stories of our homes at the end of the session. 


Arts Alive Exhibit 2018

Arts Alive’s 2018 Exhibition comes to life May 14 and runs through June 8, 2018 at Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts. The Arts Alive Exhibit displays artworks in various mediums and disciplines from artists and craftspeople from all over the country. This year’s exhibition judge Parker Seward, assistant professor of art at University of North Alabama, will select the winners of nearly $5,000 in artistic awards.

The Arts Alive exhibition is one of two fund raisers for the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts Volunteers. Arts Alive supports Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts Volunteers Endowments to school art programs in Lauderdale and Colbert counties. Last year’s Arts Alive Festival endowed nearly $5,000 to local schools for art programs and projects. Children’s artwork created by local elementary schools will also be on display in the art center breezeway during the exhibition.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see this impressive collection of fine, folk, and craft works!

This exhibition is sponsored by the City of Florence Department of Arts and Museums. The children’s exhibition is made possible by the Alabama State Council on the Arts.  Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts  is located at 217 E. Tuscaloosa St., Florence and is open, Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and the weekend of the Arts Alive Festival, May 19 &20. Festival is open from 9:00 AM – 5PM on Saturday and 10:00 AM – 5:00PM on Sunday.  Call 256-760-6379 for more information or visit