Melton Takes Top Honors at Juried Show
After 30 years in the chemical industry, Oxford’s Benny Melton has found his first love again. After hearing his name called last night at The Cedars 2nd annual Juried Art show, Melton found himself a winner, taking away the grand prize. “This is a fantasy for me,” he said on the front porch of The Cedars. “I can’t believe my name is getting called.”
His piece, an oil on canvas work, is titled “Though the Transition” and speaks of his life. “It’s everything in my studio I have collected over thirty plus years,” he explained of the painting. “You see books and materials, even the original pastel set (art professor) Sammy Britt made us buy at Delta State in the fall of 1976 when I was a student there. That’s a little bit of me in every one of those things.”
Esteemed juror, pastel artist and New Orleans native Alan Flattmann says he chose Melton’s piece out of all eighty-three for its composition and paint handling. “It’s the intimacy of it,” he said of the work. “You took something very ordinary and made an exciting piece.” Flattmann said it was an honor to judge the show and that he was impressed by the quality of the 2D and 3D works. “I just wish there were more awards to give out.”
A Yazoo City native, Melton said he entered the juried show over the summer after meeting Jerrod Partridge, a Fondren artist and Fondren Renaissance board member. Melton and Partridge were both attending an artist talk and show at Ole Miss when Partridge shared a link to Fondren. Melton thought it would be a great opportunity to expand his reach beyond the University of Mississippi campus where he is in the masters program.
When next summer’s call for entries rolls around, it seems Melton may be the biggest cheerleader for participation. He says, “If you don’t give it a try, you’re missing great opportunity that’s promoting Mississippi artists. It’s very important in our community…we have to get art out and establish value for what we do. We need (art) now more than ever.”
Other winners in the 2nd annual show presented by Fondren Renaissance and sponsored by Jan & Lawrence Farrington were: 2nd place – Janice Neil Dean; 3rd place – Susan Russell; 4th place – Paul Fayard; Honorable mentions – Diane Bryan, Becky Pate, Victoria Ramjes and Andrea Kostal.