The juror for the Arkansas Pastel Society’s 7th National Exhibition told viewers assembled at the Butler Center Galleries during 2nd Friday Art Night last Friday for the awards presentation said pastels were considered second to paintings and other fine art, and the artists in the crowd nodded their exasperation. That’s not how they nor juror Christine Ivers see pastels; in fact, Ivers and the program for the biennial show, which runs through Feb. 24 in the main gallery at the Butler Center, refer to the works as paintings.

Pastels do get a bad rap, because the soft mark of the medium often translates to a soft, too sweet, image. There are plenty of lousy paintings in the world, however, so readers who usually give pastels a pass should check out the show.


Fifty artists from 12 states entered 116 works in the show; 50 works by 39 artists were accepted. Landscapes dominate. The winners can be seen in the slideshow above. If I ran the world and could accept only one Kresse, I might have chosen her “Kresse at Full Moon Easter,” a Will Barnett-meets-Warren Criswell scene of a barely illuminated woman in the woods. But “July 4th at the Farm,” which won instead, is a great piece, one of the ones you’ll want to study.