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Allison Considine speaking during the 2016 Symposium

It’s August and a beautiful tradition continues at Florence Thomas Art School as they host the 5th Annual Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts.  The celebration will consist of four events: a special exhibit Opening Reception, a concert, a Symposium, and an Expressive Arts workshop, all in conjunction with this month-long exhibit including the work of local and regional female artists.

The organizing committee for this year’s event is chaired by Joni Ray, a 2014 exhibitor and now Gallery Director of Florence, along with Florence Executive Director, Kathleen Janowiak, and the three Pats – Pat Beaver, Pat Morrison and Pat Considine.

I’ll talk more about these happenings later in this blog, but first, some thoughts from Corey Anne Considine’s dad, Pat Considine:

“I feel Corey’s spirit is honored to have her name associated with this event. This Celebration empowers and emboldens women and girls by creating a forum to share their creative talents, their stories and art with the community. In the last month of her life, Corey shared her recently completed Warrior Goddess painting, a center piece of the exhibit, and expressed to her sister that she would like to disseminate it. As she closed her note, she wrote “May the Goddess always dance within.”


In the time of overwhelming grief following Corey’s tragic death, I teamed up with Meghan Minton [then Executive Director of Florence] to create this Celebration and honor Corey’s life and passion by empowering women and girls through the event.


The Warrior Goddess is in this exhibit for the fifth year, on tee shirts, mugs, clay magnets and in print. I appreciate the Florence Art School for continuing this event and for Celebrating Women in Arts – it’s a fun and powerful thing to do.”


Pat also went on to comment more about the empowerment aspect as he spoke about Joni’s trip from emerging artist to part time employee and now chair of the Corey Anne Celebration. Betty Rembert [another past participant] felt totally empowered as an exhibitor. She had been her late husband’s highly capable assistant for years and then she was on stage at the Corey Anne Celebration. Most of the exhibitors expressed comments on the empowerment aspect.”


You can see that a lot of love and thought goes into this annual celebration.  Speaking of this, let’s talk about the great events coming up.


Mary-Ann Prack pictured with her work at the 2016 Celebration

The Opening Reception for the month-long gallery exhibit, will take place on August 11th from 5:00 to 8:00 PM, and feature some amazing artists.  You won’t want to miss this display featuring: Gilda Aita, a ceramic artist who creates healing pieces for herself and others; Cynthia Dixon, a painter whose work has been shown throughout the region; photographer Cassondra Greer who specializes in event documentation, capturing emotions of the moment; Betty Powell, an artist and teacher whose sensitive pastels, watercolors, oils, acrylics and mixed media collages hang in private and public collections across the United States; and Susan Van Wyk, whose paintings of landscape, portraits and still life come alive with use of color.

In addition, The Florence Thomas Art School will continue The Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts, sponsoring The Backstreet Concert in West Jefferson on Friday, August 18th, featuring The Mountain Laurels, a group that performs a blend of Americana, Celtic and folk music.  This concert is free & open to the public from 5:30 – 7:00PM.  Bring a chair or a blanket and enjoy this evening of music.

Saturday, August 19th brings us to the much-anticipated Symposium with artist talks and Keynote Speaker, Edith Crutcher.

She is known for her research and lectures on “The Hidden History of the American Indian Woman”, and is a lifelong advocate for women and the arts.

Ms. Crutcher has served as Commissioner of the Indian Art and Crafts Board of the US Department of Interior. She was a presidential appointee to the Board of Trustees of the institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

For fifteen years she served with issues concerning the Native American Community and the Arts. She was an advisor on the design process for the Museum of the American Indian on the Capitol Mall in Washington, and served as director on the Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and as chair of the NMWA National Advisory Board.

The Symposium will be followed by an Expressive Arts Workshop, Personal Alchemy, which will be taught by Pat Morrison

Events during the Corey Anne Celebration of Women in the Arts will take place at Florence Thomas Art School located at 10 South Jefferson Avenue in West Jefferson, with the exception of the concert which is held at the West Jefferson Backstreet Park.  All events are free and open to the public with the exception of the Expressive Arts Workshop which requires prior registration and a $30 fee.

Do yourself a favor and participate in these meaningful and enjoyable events.  You just might find your expressive strength!

Florence Blog Post written by Becky Stragand

Becky Stragand is a writer and retired educator who enjoys books, interior design, and tending to her cats. She lives in West Jefferson with her husband and felines.