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Local Aiken artists to showcase art in Aiken Center for the Arts exhibition

Local artists in the Aiken Artist Guild will showcase their work in an upcoming exhibition at the Aiken Center for the Arts.

Kicking off with a free and open-to-the-public reception on May 6, the exhibit will run until June 11. Paintings, sculptures, fabric art and other works by guild members will be for sale.

The show is juried, and includes awards for artists in categories like Best Aiken Scene, Traditional, Figurative, Organic, Scenic, Contemporary and more.

John Gordon, president of the Aiken Artist Guild, said the exhibition is a great opportunity for the community to support local artists after a challenging pandemic year.

"The thing I look forward to most every year about the show is just being amazed at the quality and the talent of the artists we have here," Gordon said.

While the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the Aiken Artist Guild's in-person activities, the group has stayed active. Guest speakers from Colorado, Florida, South Africa and the United Kingdom have presented their artwork during the guild's Zoom meetings.

Gordon said many artists in the guild have been able to create more work during the pandemic due to newfound free time.

Marsha Shelburn, painter, said it's been great, especially during COVID-19, to delve into her art. Primarily using oil paints, Shelburn enjoys depicting people, plants, animals, buildings and geometric shapes. 

"Once I start painting, I forget what day it is, what time it is and some other things I should remember, probably," Shelburn laughed.

Shelburn joined the Aiken Artist Guild about 15 years ago. The guild's show at Aiken Center for the Arts is one of the few opportunities she takes to sell her paintings.

Karey Santos, an acrylic artist, started painting regularly a couple of years ago when she retired. Santos is the director of this year's exhibition.

"It's really just a celebration of creativity in our community," Santos said.

With over a year of COVID-19 in the books, Santos said she is interested in seeing how living through the pandemic has influenced her fellow artists' work.

Artist and active guild member Debbie Black, who has been working on abstract paintings focused on movement and color, said she is looking forward to seeing the progress the guild members have made over the last year.

Black said there will be a wide range of artists at the show, from newer members of the guild to longtime favorites.

The public reception for the exhibition will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, May 6, at the Aiken Center for the Arts.

Blakeley Bartee covers the education beat at the Aiken Standard. She graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2020. You can follow her on Twitter: @blakeleybartee.

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