Mark Donham's paintings will be shown as part of the Wastelanders' New Years Eve Art Celebration at 6 p.m. on Dec. 31 at the Yeiser Art Center. The group of regional artists has been showing together for six years, and says the diversity of their work and closeness of their members is responsible for their longevity.
It may sound strange to compare an art exhibit to a potluck, but that’s what Juanita Gilliam says Wastelanders shows resemble.
“Different people (in the Wastelanders) have their media that they’re in love with. ...Everybody brings something to the event, and it’s a wonderful diversity,” said Gilliam, a ceramics artist and member of the Wastelanders.
The group’s New Year’s Eve Art Celebration at the Yeiser Art Center, 200 Broadway, will feature new work from nine regional artists, whose works range from drawings and paintings to clay and wire sculptures.
The Wastelanders have been showing their work as a group for nearly six years, and Gilliam said their twice-yearly exhibits have been drawing larger and larger crowds since they began.
“We are inundated with artists and so many wonderful galleries, it’s surprising that we can still draw a crowd. I think that’s owed to our diversity. We have so many different types of media represented,” she said.
While their artwork is diverse, the members of the group share common roots. Every artist in the Wastelanders has a history with Paducah or the region, whether as a native or long-time resident, and many are friends.
“I don’t think complete strangers could have held it together this long. But because we have been friends for so many years and really care about each other personally, we manage to hold on,” Gilliam said.
This sense of closeness allows for open communication, and makes the occasional disagreement easier to handle.
“There’s some variety in age group, and there’s definitely a variety of views about the world, political and social,” said painter and Wastelanders member Mark Donham. “And that hasn’t ever seemed to be too much of an obstacle, to be able to get along well and function.”
Donham added that his involvement in the group pushes him to keep working.
“You see other people in your group that are challenging you, because their work is good. If you want to show with these people, you’ve got to do something,” he said.
Current Wastelanders members include E.J. Abell, Paula Danby, Nancy Flowers, Kristi Hanson, Jane Viterisi, David Brown, LaNelle Mason, and Jerry Watson.
As longstanding members of the local arts community, the Wastelanders found a fitting venue in the Yeiser Art Center, which opened at its current location in 1963.
“Most of the Wastelanders have a history with the Yeiser and have an affinity for it, and that’s why they chose to come here,” Josh White, executive director of the Yeiser Art Center, said.
Gilliam also noted the role the Yeiser has played in members’ careers, and added that its proximity to downtown restaurants made it an ideal venue for the celebration.
The celebration starts at 6 p.m. on Dec. 31, allowing visitors to drop in and have a look around before heading off to their New Year’s destinations. Nathan Lynn, formerly of Bawn in the Mash, will provide music for the evening. The reception ends at 9 p.m.
The exhibition will also be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 5.
Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.
Want to Go?
Who: The Wastelanders
What: New Year’s Eve Art Celebration, featuring music from Nathan Lynn.
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31. Additional showing 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5.
Where: The Yeiser Art Center, 200 Broadway.