Shakopee resident Brenda Ward has devoted almost her entire life to art. She learned to paint at the age of five from her mother and began experimenting with different artistic mediums over the years.
Ward now works primarily in oil paints, creating nearly 100 paintings over the past decade.
While researching shows she might be able to submit her work to, Ward came across “The Crow Show.” This exhibition is organized by The Studio Door, an art gallery located in San Diego. Selected works are displayed in San Diego or on the studio’s online gallery.
“The Crow Show” is in its eighth year and features artwork centered around the subject of crows and other black birds. The exhibition runs from March 3 to 31.
Patric Stillman, director of The Studio Door gallery, said the selected pieces showcase a range of artistic mediums, including painting, photography, ceramics, bronze sculptures, textile arts and more.
Beyond its diverse display, “The Crow Show” is also selective in which pieces enter the show. Over 300 artworks from around the world were submitted this year, of which only 50 were chosen.
“It’s very competitive,” Stillman said. “In addition to being our most popular show, it’s become something that I think artists consider prestigious.”
The pieces are chosen by a jury each year. This year’s exhibit was judged by Wes Siegrist, executive director of the Society of Animal Artists. The organization, according to its website, is dedicated to “promoting excellence in the artistic representation of the creatures sharing our planet.”
Ward said she applied in January and found out a few weeks later that she was one of the artists chosen. “I was very thrilled – absolutely excited to be on an international show out of California,” she said.
Ward’s submitted painting, titled “Sixpence Pie”, contains several crows and is directly inspired by the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence”.
His piece is displayed on The Studio Door’s online gallery highlighting some of the chosen submissions.
Like Ward, Stillman also has personal ties to Shakopee. He grew up in the city and graduated from Shakopee High School, before moving to California and opening The Studio Door in 2014.
He said he was delighted to see one of the selected artists come from Shakopee. “I just thought it was really amazing to see the word ‘Shakopee’ come up,” he said. “It made it even more exciting for me to know that somehow I reached my hometown.”
Ward has lived in Shakopee for about three decades and works out of a studio in her home. She said having artwork in different exhibitions and art shows is a great way for artists to gain exposure beyond the local level.
“You gain customers and exposure, which is great,” she said. “It’s also rewarding as an artist. I stand there. It’s a little piece of my being or my soul to put a painting out there and see what people think of it.
Stillman said he was happy that “The Crow Show” was able to promote pieces from artists in cities across the country like Shakopee.
“I think for artists who are out of state, there’s this assertion that their work is good enough to be seen miles away from where they’re actually creating the work,” he said. “It gives them a sense of legitimacy that their artistic career is at a point that goes beyond just being local.”