sing porcelain dishes, cups and platters as canvases, north Alabama artists depicted historic homes, native flora and fauna, Civil War battles and iconic structures to commemorate the state’s bicentennial.
Through delicate strokes of paint, the artists transformed pieces of china into images of the Battle of Mobile Bay, the Alabama Theatre, bolls of cotton, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Decatur’s Dancy Polk House and the Keller Memorial Drawbridge.
“We wanted to celebrate the history of Alabama through our art,” said Carol Watt, a member of Decatur Porcelain Artists.
Most of the 50 pieces on display at the Historic Decatur Railroad Depot, 701 Railroad St. N.W., were created specifically for the exhibit by the Decatur Porcelain Artists. The exhibit features the categories “Flora and Fauna,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Historic Places” and the “Civil War.”
During the exhibit, members of Decatur Porcelain Artists will demonstrate the fine art at the depot. Featured painters include Carylon Fechser and Diane Williams on Saturday and Feb. 16, Anna Skonieczny, Frances Hatcher and Anita Russell on Feb. 2 and 23, and Lydia Smith and Watt on Jan. 28 and Feb. 8, from 10 a.m. to noon.
“What is so great about painting on china is it is permanent. Even if you burn it, it is there. Sometimes people use the shards of broken pieces as inspiration. Most people think of porcelain art as just dishes, but it is so much more. We paint lamps, sinks, commode tops, backsplashes and decorative tiles,” Watt said.
To create the pieces, the artists use mineral paints mixed with oils and fire the items in a kiln at least three times.
Artists contributing to the exhibit include Watt, Skonieczny, Fechser, Williams, Hatcher, Russell, Smith, Dixie Anderson, Bert Fuentes, Betty Moore, Jeanette Holt, Jessica Russell, Judy Bradford, Judy Chandler, Julia Ducker and Lori Evans. For more information on the Decatur Porcelain Artists, visit thedecaturporcelainartists.com.
The exhibit celebrating the bicentennial will remain on display through the end of February. The depot is open Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon. Admission is free.
The historic depot also houses a permanent collection of railroad memorabilia and a miniature model railroad with replicas of Decatur structures including the Princess Theatre, the Old State Bank, the farmers market, the Turner-Surles Senior Center, the Dancy Polk House, industries, bridges over the Tennessee River and more.
Along with realistic re-creations of trees, trains and buildings, Decatur’s art scene also offers displays of abstract and environmentally focused creations.
In the Alabama Center for the Arts’ main gallery, abstract Kandinsky-esque pieces with bold colors and exploratory layering and scratching techniques fill the walls. Created by Tiril Benton, a London born contemporary artist now living in Huntsville, the exhibit “shakti” will remain on display through Feb. 20.
Benton described the pieces, many left untitled or with names connected to Greek mythology, Buddhism and Hinduism — “Lakshmi’s Edge,” “Nibbana,” “Bhakti” and “Priam Meets Achilles” — as a struggle between good and evil, light and darkness and chaos and order.
An award-winning artist’s work previously showed at exhibits in New York, Miami, Las Vegas, Paris, London, Rome, Florence, Monte Carlo, Berlin and Toronto.
Art at the Alabama Center for the Arts extends to the walking gallery, which will showcase 34 nature-related pieces in the fifth annual Festival of the Cranes exhibit from Saturday to Feb. 22. Held in conjunction with the Festival of the Cranes at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge set to take place on Saturday and Sunday, the exhibit will feature art from Calhoun Community College and Athens State students, faculty and alumni. The center is open Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. Admission is free.
For more nature-centered art, stop by the Carnegie Visual Arts Center on Church Street Northeast, where Doug Baulos’ ecological installation, “Night After Night O’Moon,” is on display. The pieces include bats made from coneflower seeds, cranes created from dried hosta fibers and nests imagined from old dictionary pages. For inspiration for the installation, the Birmingham artist turned to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, the Japanese Inari Shines and the Ikan Crane Center.
While hanging the installation in late November, Baulos visited the refuge to watch the whooping and Sandhill cranes in the morning before arriving at the Carnegie.
“I’ve been going to Wheeler for years. That’s where the inspiration started,” said Baulos. “My work has also been very influenced from my trips around Alabama and gathering, sorting, collecting, processing and making things with found and gathered materials.”
Admission to the Carnegie is free with donations accepted. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. During Festival of the Cranes, the visual arts center will open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.