Sponsor Bill Mitchell with prize winner, Diana Coonradt. Submitted photo.

Virgin Valley Artists Association announced winners of the exhibition, “Up, Up, and Away!” during their public reception on January 22 at the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery. This themed competition was sponsored by Bill Mitchell, Farmers Insurance Agency, a longtime supporter of the Gallery. Mitchell took the microphone to announce his Sponsor’s Choice award, which went to Diana Coonradt for her acrylic painting of three birds ready for flight. Mitchell provided the cash awards and ribbons for the artists through his sponsorship, as well as purchasing Coonradt’s painting.

A number of the entries reflected the theme’s tribute to the annual Mesquite Balloon Festival
that has delights the town. Other entries portrayed birds and other masters of flight. “This was a very motivating and inspirational theme,” said artist Judith Hetem. She always brings her unique viewpoint to the exhibitions, decorating a violin with dozens of fluttering monarch butterflies for this show.

Each month VVAA invites the public to vote among the exhibition entries for their favorite artwork in a “People’s Choice” Award. This month, Susan Holladay’s beautifully drawn roadrunner, poised for flight, was top choice.


Jan Doherty painted an extraterrestrial Up Up and Away event!


Balloons at Dawn by Helen Braden


The competition was also judged for artistic excellence and interpretation of the stated theme. Winners of ribbons and cash awards in that judging are:

Best of Show: “Up, Up, and Away,” Jerry Heckendorn’s finely crafted wooden hot air balloon.
Blue Ribbon: “Blue Bubbles and Baubles” watercolor painting by Barb Halicki
Red Ribbon: “Come Fly with Me” dry media pencil drawing by Susan Holladay
White Ribbon: “Great Race,” dry media pencil drawing by Bunny Wiseman
Honorable Mention: “Rainbow Rising” digital photograph printed on metal by David Boyarski
Honorable Mention: “Flight of the Hummingbird” stained glass-on-glass by Sandy Cooper
Honorable Mention: “ET Highway” whimsical oil painting by Jan Doherty
Honorable Mention: “Fly Like An Eagle” wall sculpture of recycled materials by Jan Stensland

“Up, Up and Away!” remains on display through January 31. Tammy Symons, a fine portrait artist, shows her work in the Mesa Gallery as VVAA’s January Artist of the Month. She is one
of VVAA’s art instructors, and has drawn a number of pastel portraits for local veterans as part of her community service for the arts.

The Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery is a City- owned facility operated by Virgin Valley Artists Artists Association. They staff and administer the gallery entirely with member volunteers. Their fine, locally-produced original artwork is always offered for purchase. The Gallery is located at 15 West Mesquite Blvd, Mesquite Nevada, open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.


Barb Halicki created a soaring effect in Blue Ribbon winner, Bubbles and Baubles


Best of Show, Fine Woodworking by Jerry Heckendorn

Dave Boyarski's digital photo, Rainbow Rising

Dave Boyarski’s digital photo, Rainbow Rising

President Jean Wiensch with People's Choice Winner, Susan Holladay

President Jean Wiensch with People’s Choice Winner, Susan Holladay