First Friday Festivities Feature Area Artists

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Down the Street Art Gallery has three new members and they will be featured together during First Friday festivities from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 6.

They are a young local photographer, Amy Anderson; a basket weaver who splits his time between the Valley and Pine, Bob Gleason; and an oil painter with family in Payson, Kerry Thompson.

First Friday activities at Artists of the Rim Gallery on Main Street will include a reception for guest artist Sarah Reay McAnerny and an outside show of children’s art created with recycled materials from the Sonshine Club of the Payson United Methodist Church.

McAnerny will show her representational art, focusing on the landscapes, flora, and peoples of her western heritage. A local artist, McAnerny works in watercolors on canvas and tile. She is a third generation Arizonan, a descendant of cattle ranchers and pioneers who made their way west in the mid 1800’s.

She grew up spending much of her time on her grandparents’ cattle ranch and farm, and exploring the high country of the Oak Creek and Sedona and Mogollon Rim. These formative years proved very influential in McAnerny’s development as a fine artist.

Coming from a family of artists, she began winning art contests at the age of 12. By her senior year in high school she was an accomplished watercolor artist, winning “Best of Show” for the entire state of Arizona at the Annual Arizona State Fair exhibition in 1996. After college, she knew she wanted to find a way to make a living with the art she loved.  Within months she became an acclaimed muralist, painting murals for state politicians, business owners, and private collectors and residents throughout Arizona, California , and Hawaii. She later thrived as a commercial artist and illustrator, creating a huge library of best-selling designs for major retailers and manufacturers as a tableware, tile, home décor, and textile designer. Her designs have been featured in major publications such as Phoenix Home and Gardens, Cooking with Paula Deen, Better Homes and Gardens, and many others.

During this time, McAnerny continued to develop her passion and skill for western art, working in both watercolors and oil.

McAnerny is a resident of Payson and an avid outdoorswoman and hiker. Many of her paintings come directly from her explorations and photography hiking expeditions. Her love of history and scientific research lend themselves to rich narratives in her paintings. She adheres to an artistic philosophy that in a world filled with very talented artists, artwork that stands out should not only be beautiful and technically refined, but it should also tell a story, celebrate the whimsy, narratives, romance, and history of bygone days, and capture the fleeting moments of awe-striking beauty that fills her beloved high country which so few are privileged to experience in real life.

The SonShine Club is a licensed childcare program at Payson United Methodist Church.

This summer the children have studied a different lesson each week then created recycled art mirroring the week’s lesson theme. As an example, when studying about plant life, the children created flower bouquets out of old buttons and flowers using the inside rolls of bathroom tissue.  They also designed and painted their own flowerpots for a planting activity.  

The SonShine Club children will share the fruits of their creativity and labors with the community during Main Street First Friday activities Aug. 6 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Artists of the Rim Gallery.

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