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April 9, 2013

A familiar face wins Best in Show at Spring Into Art 2013

VALDOSTA — Perhaps, it’s the way the judges eye her sculpted figures, or maybe it’s the way her sculpted figures eye the judges, but Tallahassee, Fla., artist Barbara Balzer keeps winning top awards at the annual Spring Into Arts exhibits.

On Monday evening, Balzer’s “Collector/Believes Every Work of Art is a Missionary” won the 2013 Spring Into Art top honor: Best in Show.

Quite a feat given it is the largest Spring Into Art in the exhibit’s half-century history with approximately 500 pieces submitted and the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts’ staff finding places to exhibit each and every work.

The gala opening also marked the 10-year anniversary of the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts with tributes to the family of Loyce Turner and the late Annette Howell Turner. The center opened in 2003 with that year’s Spring Into Art.

Spring Into Art is the region’s most inclusive exhibit — every registered piece of work is exhibited to be judged, to be viewed, to possibly be purchased, to be considered for the annual Colson Calendar which publishes 13 pieces from each Spring Into Art.

But it is also a show with awards and cash prizes. Balzer has come to know such honors well. For example, she has won first place in the Spring Into Art sculpture category multiple times, including such wins last year, 2008, and 2006. Her work also garnered her the Best in Show award for Valdosta State University Art’s Valdosta National 2011 exhibit.

While many Valdosta art patrons may not know Balzer if they were to meet her on the street or in the Turner Center, her ceramic busts are immediately recognizable to regional art patrons. They touch upon an ancient imagery of the human race and human face, with touches of the harlequin and the Elizabethan.

In many ways, Balzer’s work seems an almost three-dimensional expression of the pinched classicism of Pablo Picasso’s canvases from his Blue Period. All with an almost eerie sensation that her figures’ eyes are following you and that anyone of them might blink, wink, sniff, or speak. There is something discomfortably familiar about Balzer’s ceramic figures and something terribly fascinating.

With hundreds of works on display, there is something for everyone in Spring Into Art. The show continues exhibiting through June 5, Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts, 527 N. Patterson St.

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