Artists in Action: Scary talent and spooky tours usher in Halloween season
Oct 12, 2013 | 3025 views |  0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Submitted photo
Submitted photo
Artists take pleasure in sharing their work with other people. But when it comes to a career in visual arts, the people who matter are those who commission the images. With its great variety, art instructor Margaret Poplin’s commercial art exhibit makes that point in Jacksonville State University’s exhibit, displayed in the Hammond Hall Gallery through Oct. 25.

The people, both admired and notorious, who matter when it comes to Calhoun County’s fascinating history, will be remembered in spooky fashion Oct. 25 in the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County’s GhostWalk. Tours through the building will make for family fun in the spirit of Halloween.

A design for careers

With four new professors, steady enrollment and the remodeled Roundhouse building directly behind Hammond Hall, there’s new life in the JSU art department this fall. Also, art exhibits throughout the year, focusing on different aspects of visual communication, contribute to students’ future careers.

Margaret Poplin’s one-woman show is one of these displays. The artist, illustrator and designer says she wants her students to understand how versatile they must become to make a living as an artist in a world of ever-changing technology.

“To sell your work, you must be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of some,” she emphasizes. “And you must learn the skill of marketing your art.”

Originally, Poplin wanted to be an illustrator for children’s books. Her work, “The Fox,” represents that period of her career journey. “The look has to be approachable,” she said. And this friendly animal certainly looks as if he has a pleasant story to tell.

“The Canoe,” a nature painting that appeared in Northeast Alabama Living magazine published by The Anniston Star, depicts a canoe on the Alabama River heading into a sunset. According to the artist, “the idea was taken from many references and pieced together in my mind as an image,” she said.

An acrylic portrait of Poplin with her fiancé Erick Jaudon in art nouveau-style features a background with intertwining vines of gold, something she says she did for pure pleasure. Across the gallery, “The Saint” is a self-portrait painted for her students as a humorous demonstration on contrasts in skin tone.

But the standout piece at the exhibit’s opening is the artist’s interpretation of the Russian icon Saint George (of Saint George and the Dragon fame), which she created on a wood panel. Working from another depiction of the patron saint of England, Poplin made the hands more realistic and the eyes more innocent and knowing, she said. There are three layers in the portrait — ink and acrylic, oil washes and gold leaf.

“It’s the most complex piece in the display,” Poplin said. “It took me almost two week of solid work because of the drying process for each layer.”

Poplin has been drawing since she was very young, since she could hold a pencil, she said. Her career has taken her down the path of advertising, creating web banners among other things, but she stresses the importance of learning the basic principles of art.

“I’m also a big supporter of lifelong learning,” she added. Following her own advice, she has taught herself the art of leather-working.

Next up on the department’s calendar is a faculty art exhibit Nov. 7-15.

A literary Halloween GhostWalk

You’ve heard of cemetery ghost walks. This Halloween, meet up with famous and frightening people from Calhoun County’s past at the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 25. Guided tours through the library, starting in the children’s department, will feature local actors representing faces that have been written about in Calhoun County — some celebrated and some very strange, but their lives and legends live on. Each tour will include 15 people, and refreshments will be served.

Junior League mystery coming soon

To check on the availability of tickets to “Dyed Blonde,” written by Mike Stedham and performed by the Junior League of Calhoun County, visit The play will be presented Oct. 24-25 as a dinner theater at the Anniston Country Club. Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, are $50 each. Cocktails and a silent auction begin at 6:30 p.m. and dinner and the show start at 7 p.m.
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