The Bourbon County Arts Council is searching for area artists who want to showcase their talents in this year's Fine Arts Competition and Exhibit.
The nonprofit council recently announced that it has begun accepting entries for the 21st annual competition and exhibit, a mixed media competition open to artists 16 years of age and older. Categories include painting, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, drawing and graphics, mixed media, pastels and photography.
The exhibit opens March 13 with a reception for participating artists and the juror and will remain open through March 15 at the Danny and Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center on the campus of Fort Scott Community College, 2108 S. Horton.
BCAC Executive Director Peggy Cummings said last year's event drew 124 entries, mainly from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, and a few from other states such as Vermont and South Carolina. Each year, the contest typically features entries from area high school and college students, and artwork from people who have never participated before.
A total of $1,550 in cash awards will be presented to first-place winners in each category and two Best of Show winners, all of whom will be chosen by a qualified art judge. The winner of a popular vote will be selected by patrons who visit the exhibit and choose their favorite piece.
First-place winners in each category will receive $100 each; Best of Show winners for two-dimensional and three-dimensional projects will each receive $200; and the popular vote winner will receive a $50 cash prize. Local merchants donate all the prize money, Cummings said.
Cummings said there have been many winners from the region in recent years.
"Artists in Pittsburg, Nevada, (Mo.), and Fort Scott get a good share of those cash prizes," she said.
Three local women were among several artists from Kansas and Missouri who won top honors in last year's contest, which took place in a new venue -- the fine arts center -- for the first time in its 20-year history.
Organizers have not picked a judge for this year's competition but are talking to two individuals about serving as judges and spend time with the artists, reviewing their work and offering tips and advice concerning their particular style of art and ways to improve or enhance their work. Judges must possess at least a master's degree due to the number and variety of artistic categories involved in the contest, Cummings said.
Entry fee is $7.50 per piece and entry and entry deadline is March 4. Money collected from entry fees is used to offset the cost of supplies and other expenses needed to organize the exhibit and contest, Cummings said.
Entry forms may be requested by calling (620) 223-6159.