All eyes on our drawing prize
DESPITE being a country festival-based art competition - the likes of which you might wander along to the scout hall to check out what the local art brigade have been up to - the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award's brush strokes, or pencil lines in this case, sweep far broader than its name suggests.
The $40,000 on offer certainly takes the JADA, as it is endearingly known, out of blue ribbon territory and into that of Archibald Prize winning land.
It's the case again this year as entries for the 2014 prize are now in and include another roll call of nationally and regionally recognised artists.
While entries were slightly down on the previous year's 2012 prize, the calibre of entry is certainly there according to Grafton Regional Gallery curator Cher Breeze.
"We received 345 entries this year, last time it was around 400. This isn't really surprising as there are a lot more art prizes out there now and some of the artists that usually submit two works only entered one," Ms Breeze said.
She also joked that perhaps the judge set to make the final decision may have shaken up the establishment a little, which is fair comment when you consider the person who will be running their eagle-eye over the yet-to-be determined 50 finalists is one of the country's most respected art critics - John McDonald from the Sydney Morning Herald.
"I'd say a few possibly lost their nerve when they found that out," she chuckled.
In the lead up to the final decision, entries will be whittled down by a small panel* appointed by the gallery next Thursday. The finalists' works will be on display at the October 17 opening night where the announcement of the overall $20,000 winner and gallery acquisitions to the tune of a further $20,000 will also take place.
And the evening will be far from stuffy with local funk and groove band The Ninth Chapter set to loosen up the crowd as they indulge in a range of fine Clarence cuisine and refreshments to celebrate our home-grown major art prize.
Everyone is invited to attend this event and tickets will be on sale at the gallery in early October.