The Artside: Simmons takes top prizes in Aiken Artist Guild show

Suzanne Simmons is a double winner in the Aiken Artist Guild’s annual members’ show, taking both best in show and people’s choice awards for her oil portrait titled Kim.


A resident of Warren­ville, S.C., Simmons said she has enjoyed art since childhood, and took classes at Winthrop University. Years later, she earned a degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in music and graphic design at USC Aiken, studying with art professor Al Beyer.

After retiring from SRS in 2005, she returned to studying with Beyer. Her winning painting is a dramatic portrait of a fellow art student and part-time model, who posed for a class to photograph. In her portrait, Simmons chose to crop the image in close to accentuate the lighting on her subject’s face.

Juror for the exhibit was Alan MacTaggart, the chairman of the art department at Georgia Regents University. In addition to the best-in-show award, he selected winners in several categories from works submitted by 70 Aiken Artist Guild members.

First place winners are Deborah Tidwell Holtzscheiter, portrait/figurative; Dave Muhlbaier, abstract/experimental; Jeannette Shoemaker, still life/floral; Ann Rauton Smith, landscape/interior; and Tom Supensky, wildlife/animals. Wendy Cunico took the new-member award and Ginger Ferguson, best Aiken scene.

The AAG members’ show and a solo exhibit by Supensky will be on view at the Aiken Center for the Arts on Laurens Street through July 3. See preparations for the members show at and Supensky’s talk about his ceramics and his book, Looking at Art, at


ARTS ENTREPRENEUR Molly McDowell has teamed up with event designer Mary Hull Palmer to form a new business concept they say will redefine the way patrons collect art and connect with artists. This month, Outside the Box Fine Art celebrated the opening of an office in Hammonds Ferry in North Augusta and held a launch party in Charleston, S.C.

Outside the Box is an upscale, membership-based platform that offers paid members access to contemporary art works curated by McDowell, along with exclusive art-focused social events and cultural travel planned by Palmer. For its inaugural year, OTB is featuring a lineup of artists that includes William Dunlap, Philip Morsberger, Tom Nakashima, Edward Rice, Stacy Waddell and Mike Williams. For more information, visit


KAREN BROWN, former principal ballerina with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, will return home to Augusta June 28-July 3 to conduct workshops for elite dancers. Now a master teacher and dance coach, Brown is founder of En Point Plus Refining Institute. She will use computerized motion analysis technology in workshops to be held at Jessye Norman School of the Arts.

Brown joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem after receiving her early training with Ron Colton at the Augusta Ballet School. She was artistic director of the Oakland Ballet and has served on the faculty of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and The Dance Depot in Collegeville, Pa. She has received certification in the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum and teaches at Harlem School of the Arts in New York. For information on the workshops, call (302) 722-5538 or visit

Colton, her first ballet instructor, began training dancers at the Augusta Ballet School in 1964, and many of his former students, dancers and longtime friends are working on plans for a season-long celebration of his 50 years of cultural inspiration to our community.

ARTIST PHILIP JURAS reports he has signed a contract with the University of Georgia Press for the second printing of his award-winning book The Southern Frontier, Landscapes Inspired by Bartram’s Travels. Many of those paintings were exhibited at the Morris Museum of Art in 2011.

According to, a Web site that highlights international cultural hot spots, “Augusta, Georgia, is an excellent art destination for those interested in the world of Southern U.S. culture. The city hosts the Morris Museum of Art, one of the most important institutions in the States to showcase regional, historical art pieces from the 19th century onwards; and a number of other artist-run galleries featuring the work of local painters and photographers.”

Check out the site’s opinion on Augusta’s 10 best art galleries here: