By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
In a first for the art space, Cerulean Gallery has given marching orders to the artists included in its latest show.
For Perceptions of War, six artists were asked to create work with a specific theme. The exhibition opens with a 6 to 9 p.m. reception Friday at the gallery, 814 S. Taylor St.
Generally, gallery founder and co-director Caroline Kneese said she groups artists together "by intuition."
"I don't like to tell artists to create anything specific," Kneese said. "Usually I see their body of work and the direction they're going, and their place in a group exhibition is by intuition.
"But in this case, I approached them to create a body of work specific to a theme but leaving it very open. I didn't want them to feel like they were in a box," she said.
That's because she wanted to make this exhibition something special for the gallery, now located in the Canyon Exploration Building in downtown Amarillo.
As always, a portion of opening-night sales will benefit a charity, but in this case, the nonprofit helped inspire the theme.
"I met Mary Nell Lemert, one of the people in charge with fundraising for the (Texas Panhandle) War Memorial Education Center — she just walked in the gallery when it was on Duniven (Circle) and started passionately explaining the (center), and it really inspired me," Kneese said. "I thought about assigning it to a normal exhibition, but she really emphasized that they really need the money, so I wanted to think outside the box, to do something more creative and a bigger fundraiser for them."
So Kneese asked artists Andrew Scott DeJesse, Janie Hathoot, John Key, Michael Longhofer, Judy Rogers and Marilyn Yanke to create work specifically for this exhibition, which will hang through July 21 and will include the Memorial Day holiday.
"We ended up with an eclectic body of work, and it is extremely powerful imagery," Kneese said.
DeJesse is a lieutenant colonel and cultural heritage preservation officer in the U.S. Army, and Key served during the first Gulf War. The other artists drew on inspiration from family and friends.
"I had impromptu personal interviews, spent time in museum exhibits and researched public domain images of war at home and abroad," Rogers said in an artist's statement. "As a painter, it is my job to find a painting in all of these highly emotional scenes."
The $8.5 million education center was announced in 2015, co-chair Rex Lemert said, and about 20 percent of funds have been raised thus far. The center, which will be located at the memorial, 4101 S. Georgia St., will provide information about the wars in which the United States was engaged between 1775 and today.
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and by appointment Saturdays. Call 806-576-0063.