October 30, 2020

Local Artists Capture Top Prize at Coweta Art Show

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(Newnan, GA) — Two well-known Heard County artists once again made a big splash Tuesday evening at the official event reception for one of the biggest annual art shows in the West Georgia area.

The talented and innovative duo R.L. Hughey and Deborah McNeil brought home the ‘Best in Show’ award at the 10th-annual Juried Art Show sponsored by the Newnan-Cultural Art Association.

The event was held at the Coweta Centre for the Performing Arts and featured over 100 entries by artists from the surrounding areas.

The partners teamed up this year to create an awe-inspiring life-size sculpture of a grand piano dubbed “Ain’t Life Grand.” Hughey and McNeil worked tirelessly to produce the welded piece over a time span of seven months.

One of the most difficult objectives to constructing the enormous entry was the fact that the largest door opening to the exhibit hall measures only 33 inches, meaning the piano had to be designed in several pieces.

The nameplate was designed on a computer by McNeil and crafted using sand-blasted glass. The couple estimates that the piece weighs around 400 pounds.

This marks the fifth consecutive year that Hughey and McNeil have entered the show and the second time they have taken the highest honor having won ‘Best in Show’ with another life-size horse sculpture they created from a bicycle in 2011.

Hughey is a retired mechanical engineer from Southwire and along with McNeil utilize skills they both learned through the local welding program on the Franklin campus of West Georgia Technical College.

They have produced extravagant metal sculptures for each of the last five shows including a large bass fiddle that plays real music, a large fish, and a mammoth chair made exclusively from old tools.

The pair also entered two other pieces at this year’s edition of the show including a wire vest with a metal collar that Hughey wore to the event last year and a sailboat piece consisting of a pickaxe and two old saw blades.

The sailboat piece was also highly regarded by this year’s judge, Wanda Kinnaman, an art teacher for many years in the Lagrange area.

The show features prizes in three categories including photography, painting, and sculpture. The ‘Best in Show’ is chosen as the top piece from all categories.

This year’s winning piece was the first that the pair painted using an alkyd paint. Former pieces were rusted and clear-coated.

Hughey and McNeil are local art advocates and are most pleased to be able to bring some attention to the arts here in their small hometown.

Hughey moved to Franklin when he was in elementary school and graduated with the HHS Class of 1959. McNeil is a former art teacher that had a studio in Carrollton.

“You know when you grow up here in a place like Heard County that is not a big arts place, it just feels really good to be producing art that other people seem to appreciate — it is really gratifying,” says Hughey.

All of the works will remain on display through June 25 at the Centre which is located at 1523 Lower Fayetteville Road in Newnan. For more information you may call 770-254-ARTS or visit www.thecentreonline.net.

The duo will be celebrated as featured artists at the Newnan City Hall later this year.





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