It’s a new year (finally!) and time to get a new perspective. Come to the South Arkansas Arts Center and feel all the stress of the last year melt away as you view all the fun and amazing art created by students in El Dorado, on display in the 2021 Student Art Show and Competition. These young people may have been stuck at home, but their creative spirits were in full tilt mode!

Art abounds in many forms in the Merkle Gallery February 9-March 12. There you will find 115 pieces of art, including 2-D and 3-D sculpture, watercolor, acrylic, crayon, pencil, colored pencil, pastel, marker, and multi-media works. About half of the pieces shown were completed while the students were at home, and the other half were completed in school. The students love the opportunity to exhibit their original pieces, and they look forward to seeing their work displayed in the gallery. Their individuality shines through in as many ways as there are pieces in the show.

The show is open to all ages, and there are entries from kindergarten through high school students, so there is a wide range of talent on display. One hundred student artists from El Dorado, Smackover, Norphlet, Parkers Chapel, and Hamburg are all participating in this large exhibit.

Presented every other year, the Student Art Show and Competition is made possible by a sponsorship from William P. Cook and Associates, PLLC. The show’s patron, the late W.L. Cook was an art lover and a champion of artists of all ages. His support has ensured that this competition, as well as SAAC’s Viewfinder Photography Competition and annual Membership Show, have all continued for many years.

“W.L. had a big heart for the arts,” said SAAC executive director Laura Allen. “It was important to him that these community art contests and exhibits were accessible to everyone, because he believed in the talent of our local artists. He also knew how powerfully important the arts can be in the lives of young people, not just creatively, but developmentally and socially as well. W.L.’s legacy is an important part of the creative community here.”

Winners will be chosen by judge Gay Bechtelheimer in four different age divisions, as well as a Best in Show prize. Awards will be presented virtually on February 12. The show is open for viewing Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., through March 12, so grab your mask and come to SAAC for a fun break from your regular day to enjoy some moments of art appreciation, compliments of the younger set.

For more information on this exhibit, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. Visitors must sign in upon entering the building, and face coverings are required.