By Lauren Zaepfel
The Niagara Arts and Cultural Center's 13th annual "Beyond the Barrel Art Exhibition" will showcase the theme "NF125" in celebration of the 125th birthday of the City of Niagara Falls.
Artists using any mediums are welcome to enter their Niagara-inspired work in the exhibit, which will be on display from May 5 to Aug. 6 in the NACC's main gallery, 1201 Pine Ave., Niagara Falls.
"Most times for the 'Beyond the Barrel' it's an open theme," said Kelly Lang Buckley, director of development at the NACC. "This year it's still open to all interpretations, but we've asked artists to reflect on the 125th birthday of the City of Niagara Falls and whatever that means to them."
Director of Operations Rachel Olszewski said, "We really wanted to create this exhibit to celebrate everything that is amazing about Niagara."
She said the exhibit is "a time to showcase some of the astounding artists from this area."
"So it's a great opportunity for artists to get exposure and also celebrating the artistry that can be found in this area," she added.
The exhibit will feature work from various artists, including Robert Bemisderfer, Jay Carrier, Michael Stuart, Bob Schroder, Jim Neiss, Ally Spongr, Jason Buckley, Brook D'Angelo, Ray Robertson, Ruth Thomas, Meagan McCormick, Mary Grace Ohrum, Ylli Haruni, Connie Garver, Jonathan Rogers, Richmond Futch, Jeannette Johnson-Pikturna, Violet Gordon and Caedyn Metz, who has created a mural depicting the Niagara Falls skyline to welcome visitors to the gallery.
After attending last year's "Beyond the Barrel Art Exhibition," Metz said she was inspired to get involved.
She said she "loves" this year's theme and is excited to see what fellow artists will create for the show.
"I think that our majestic waterfalls and panoramic views have inspired artists and photographers for generations, and I think that will be visible through the works displayed at this year's event," Metz said.
She added, "Niagara Falls is a place of wonder and it is magical. Though we are known for many different daredevil stunts over generations, we are so much more than that. We are a hub of art and culture. We have a natural wonder in our backyard that inspires art with breathtaking views that can't be seen anywhere else in the world! 'Beyond the Barrel' showcases the inspirational spell that the region's beauty casts over the viewer, the visitor and the residents."
An opening reception for the exhibit will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 5.
A birthday dessert buffet will be provided by Olive Garden. Also, Fortuna's Italian Restaurant will feature a $10 dinner discount for exhibit attendees.
At 6:30 p.m., $100 prizes will be given with the following awards: Excellence in Sculpture, Excellence in Painting, the Michael Kudela award for Excellence in Mixed Media and the Barbara Maloney tribute award for Excellence in Photography.
Judges include Michael J. Beam, curator of exhibitions and special projects at the Castellani Art Museum; Neiss, photographer for the Niagara Gazette; Spongr, special projects director for the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area; and impressionist artist Haruni.
The opening will also offer free admission to the NACC's new "Freedom Crossing" Underground Railroad exhibit in the heritage gallery, and a solo exhibit of the works of "Violet Gordon's Art" in its garden gallery (both of which will be on display until Aug. 6).
Buckley said, "The 'Beyond the Barrel' exhibit offers not only an opportunity for Western New York regional artists to exhibit their skills to the millions of tourists coming into the Niagara Region, but it also encourages economic growth from these visitors to the downtown Niagara Falls area, helping business and tourism. And it offers a unique opportunity for visitors to share in local vision of the falls."
Galleries at the NACC are free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and from noon to 4 p.m. weekends. Visitors can also meet artists on the second Saturday of each month during open studios from noon to 4 p.m.
For guided tours, call 716-282-7530, ext. 0. For more information, visit www.thenacc.org.
Artist Caedyn Metz works on her mural to be on display for the upcoming "Beyond the Barrel Art Exhibition." (Photo provided by the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center)