Artists in Action: Audition for mystery play, see Ken Elkins exhibit at Noble Gallery
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
Feb 03, 2013 | 1987 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The February arts calendar simply won’t let us stay at home, even on the coldest evenings.

Auditions for “Murder By the Book,” a play by Mike Stedham for the Junior League of Anniston/Calhoun County’s spring fundraiser, are Wednesday. The current exhibit by East Alabama Artists, Inc. at Noble Gallery features the primitive paintings of the late Ken Elkins and a display of silver jewelry by metalsmith Deborah Brogi. The exhibit will be up through May and more events are coming throughout February.

Try-outs for mystery play

Interested adults are welcome to audition Wednesday evening from 6-8 p.m. for some unique character roles in “Murder By the Book,” Stedham’s sixth play. Auditions will take place at Church of the Good Shepherd, Presbyterian, 461 Choccolocco Road. Production dates are March 22 and 23 at the Anniston Country Club. Rehearsals will be Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. prior to the performances. Dress rehearsal dates will be announced.

The crime takes place at a murder mystery writers convention. Suspects are the writers who make a living by planning murders, and the audiences vote on the identity of the murderer.

Ken Elkins paintings on exhibit at Noble Gallery

Ken Elkins was well known and respected here and in the Southeast as a master photographer.

He retired as The Star’s chief photographer in July 2000 at the age of 65, ending 42 years in the newspaper industry, according to an article by Basil Penny, dated July 30, 2000, in The Star. His awards — which numbered in the hundreds and included recognitions from the Associated Press, Alabama Press Association and Press Photographers Association — gave testament to his skill with the camera, his genuine interest in people, and his knack for putting his subjects at ease.

But he had another passion. He liked taking up the paintbrush to tell a story, a part of his life that has kept a low profile until now. His subjects, primarily animals and flowers, reflect memories from the farms he knew as a young boy, according to Karen Elkins, his daughter. His TULIP series and PIGS are important examples of the light-hearted approach he took to his work.

Unlike most of the photojournalist’s black-and-white prints, Elkins’ oils and watercolors radiate almost every hue in the rainbow, with repetitions and many interpretations of the same subject. Exhibit viewers will see about 20 of his folk art pieces in Noble Gallery inside Nunnally’s custom framing on Noble Street. These include a few self-portraits and, in my view, a definite quality of contentment.

Elkins must have kept busy after retirement. His interests included family, bass fishing, painting and completing his 2005 book “Picture Taker,” a collection of his best photos of people in places such as Calhoun, Clay and Randolph counties. The book can be found at Karen Elkins’ art gallery in Quintard Mall.

Deborah Brogi’s jewelry

Brogi defines her silver jewelry, on display in Noble Gallery’s loft, as “wearable art.” The materials used in these pieces are sterling, pure silver, bronze or copper, and the gems are semiprecious or handmade glass beads from other artists, Brogi explains in her artist’s statement.

“My style came from two very different influences,” she adds. “First, I spent a decade in Italy as home base, haunting the museums in Europe. I was fascinated by antique jewelry ravaged by time. Next, I spent two decades in Alaska on a homestead overlooking two rivers, which met at a glacier. The natural erosion of the landscape and the time-destroyed jewelry of Europe combined to shape the creation of my silver.”

Brogi attended art schools in Florence, Italy, Tennessee Tech and Anchorage University.
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