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Local Artists Celebrate Bankhead Forest, Wheeler Refuge Anniversaries

August 15, 2018

North+South of the River Exhibit

The Alabama Center for the Arts kicks off its Fall 2018 Exhibition Season with North + South of the River, an exhibition of art commemorating landmark anniversaries of the Bankhead National Forest and the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. The exhibition, presented in the Center’s Main Gallery, brings together artists and photographers from across the North Alabama region whose creative work reflects a deep passion for their local environment. Many of the exhibiting artists also share a background in conservation activism. “These publicly owned lands are held in very high regard by sportsmen, birders, botanists, archaeologists, historians and countless others, including the artists and photographers in the exhibition,” says Robert Cox, organizer of the exhibition and participating artist.

2018 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Bankhead National Forest and the 80th Anniversary of the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. The William B. Bankhead National Forest was established as the Alabama National Forest in 1918 and is home to Alabama’s only National Wild and Scenic River, the Sipsey Fork. The forest contains 181,230 acres including the scenic 24,922 acre Sipsey Wilderness and tracts of old-growth hardwood forests. The forest is also abundantly rich in American Indian history and culture. The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938 in order to create a habitat for wintering and migrating birds. The refuge covers nearly 35,000 acres along the Tennessee River and is charged with the administration of four other National Wildlife Refuges in the region, including Fern Cave, Key Cave, Sauta Cave, and Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuges.

Participating artists in North + South of the River include: Janice Barrett of Moulton, AL; Gail Bergeron of Athens, AL; Robert Cox of Decatur, AL; W.T. Dooley of Northport, AL; Doris Gabel of Athens, AL; Jim Green of Lynnville, TN; Marianne Harvill of Danville, AL; Tanjie Nash of Athens, AL; and Charles Seifried of Decatur, AL.

Cox says the artwork in the exhibition explores both traditional and non-traditional techniques and media, including oil and acrylic painting, prints, photography, drawings, and mixed-media. “The unifying theme of the exhibit is the enduring beauty of our local environment and the rich biological and cultural heritage contained within those places. But it’s important to note that it’s the artist’s respect of those environments that also seems to be a common theme in the exhibition,” says Cox. “I think anyone who has ever walked the canyons of the Bankhead or stood on the bluffs of the Wheeler Refuge and watched the birds migrate know what very special places they are. These landscapes have been inspiring people for centuries.”

North + South of the River opens Monday, August 27, 2018 at the Alabama Center for the Arts in Decatur, Alabama and continues through October 31, 2018. A Reception and Lecture will be held on October 11, 2018, at 5:30 in the Main Gallery. The event is free and open to the public. Main Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 8am – 5pm, and Friday 8am – noon. This exhibition is an Alabama Bicentennial Endorsed Event.