Chillicothe & Ross County — The Pump House Center for the Arts had a full house Thursday evening with the opening of the annual show to highlight student art.
The 2024 “Best of Ross County” hosts more than 100 works by students in five schools in the county, and about 3/4 of the works are for sale if you want to support young talent. Pump House director John Payne explains the show in the below video interview, as well as promoting Ross County’s free public art gallery.
He said all of the ribbon winners – from the Honorable Mentions to Best of Show – won cash prizes, thanks to the show’s sponsors. Additionally, the school with the Best of Show student, Chillicothe High School, got $200. (That work is a hanging of hundreds of origami cranes.) Payne said Unioto brought the most students to the show.
You can find photos and listings of the winning artists in the Pump House’s Facebook page, and below is the statement from the judge, OU-C’s Dennis Deane, who gave me a 35-minute tour of the show as he was judging it Wednesday.
Payne also said the Pump House reached their goal in the “Fix the Bricks” campaign to help fund restoration of the bricks and outside masonry of the building.
It was both a privilege and challenge in serving as the “awards” juror for this edition of The Best of Ross County High: School Art Competition. Shall I even go so far as to say, it was a most enjoyable experience. Special thanks must be given to The James Bryant Butt Bean Foundation for their generous support of this event. Equally, a shout-out acknowledging the staff at the Pump House Art Center for hosting this fine community exhibition and their excellent installation of the art works.
I would like to congratulate the recipients of this year’s awards. Acting as the lone juror, the award winners’ art struck a responsive chord with my personal aesthetic sensibility. It should go without saying, another juror might easily have selected an entirely different set of student works as being considered, the most outstanding. In general, the entire exhibition presented a rich variety of art works. Indeed, the future of the visual arts in Ross County is promising as we view the world through the eyes and hearts of the next generation of artists. Certainly, this show is a great opportunity and learning process for all those who entered and I would like to congratulate all students who took the time and have the creative spirit not only to create their work, but also who have the confidence and courage to put their work out into the public domain.
So, what does a juror look for when making selections of this nature? That is, how does one identify the distinctive characteristics of what constitutes achievement of merit in the production of art? For me, I look for art that attracts and holds my attention. The subtlety, or even boldness, in coloration and value, strong composition, interesting mark making, engaging subject matter or content, etc. Perhaps it’s just the mystery that lurks within the art, that something that I just can’t put my finger on. After 42 years of being an arts educator in higher education, one would think that much of this evaluation process would become a simple matter, an open-and-shut case. Fortunately for me, this is far from the case, and I love every minute of confronting this uncertainty.
I would also like to congratulate all the art teachers for their dedication to the fine practice of visual arts education. Working with students of all experience levels requires a talented instructor, one who can navigate the complexity of guiding student efforts, providing encouragement when the challenge to overcome obstacles is great, providing just the right accolades when each advancement forward proves successful. And to have successful art teachers, we can’t forget the support that school administrators provide. Without having the necessary facilities and budgets for procurement of art materials, little of what we see in this exhibition would be possible.
Finally, let’s send out a special thanks to the parents for encouraging, or at the very least, putting up with the unique challenges of having an art making child in the home.
Dennis Deane, Emeritus Professor of Art