Winners of the 2015 Illinois River Salon

The third Illinois River Salon art exhibition got a great kickoff on Wednesday night with a dinner hosted by the Illinois River Watershed Partnership. The Salon was curated by Todd A. Williams and John P. Lasater IV, also founders of the Heart of America Artists’ Association.

Many of the participating artists were present to hear the judge, Chad Alligood, present the awards. Chad is Curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Speaking from his experience with art and artists around the United States, he gave high compliments to the quality of the work at the Illinois River Salon.

The 2015 Illinois River Salon features nearly 75 works by 50 different artists. The participating artists came from all over the Midwest including Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Colorado and Wisconsin, all in an effort to record their artistic impression of the Illinois River Watershed. For those of us that call this region home, we are grateful because their efforts help us be proud and remind us of the beauty we have here. The exhibition is made possible thanks to a grant from the Windgate Foundation.

We are pleased to announce this year’s winners:

Best of Show and $2,500 went to Michele Wells of St. Louis, Missouri, for her painting “Day Break”. Michele also had the honor of winning the Artists’ Choice award, voted on by the artists on Wednesday evening.


“Day Break” by Michele Wells, Soft Pastel, 16×20, $960

Second Place and $1,500 went to Julie Gowing Hayes of Bella Vista, Arkansas, for her painting “Sager Creek Bubbly”.

“Sager Creek Bubbly” by Julie Gowing Hayes, Oil, 8×10, $425

Third Place and $1,000 went to Nancy Harkins of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for her painting “Sunlight on Cedar Creek”.


“Sunlight on Cedar Creek” by Nancy Harkins, Watercolor, 16×16, $975

Honorable Mentions went to five individuals: Becky Porter of Bella Vista, Arkansas; Judy Howard of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Julie Miller of Sapulpa, Oklahoma; Roseanne Kissee of Bentonville, Arkansas; and Gil Adams of Tulsa, Oklahoma.


“Across the Pasture” by Judy Howard, Soft Pastel, 13×9, $350


“Glimmer of Hope” by Becky Porter, Oil, 12×16, $1,400


“Shadow Play” by Julie Miller, Oil, 14×18, $800


“The Pool at Natural Falls” by Roseanne Kissee, Oil, 18×24, $800


“Cave Springs House on Highfill” by Gil Adams, Oil, 16×20, $1,275

The whole show of over 75 artworks will be on display at the Illinois River Watershed Partnership Learning Center in Cave Springs, Arkansas till November 28th and are viewable on weekdays from 9am till 4pm, and Saturdays from 9am till 2pm. There will be a public reception for the paintings that are still unsold at the same location on November 28th from 2-4pm.

To inquire about purchasing any of these, contact Todd Williams at (479) 685-0294.

We are thankful for all of the tremendous effort that went into making the artworks, and we hope you’ll get a chance to view the show in Cave Springs or online HERE.



  Jan Trager wrote @

My name is Jan Trager and I would love to know how to enter the next Salon show this fall. Do I have to be a member? Thanks

  John P. Lasater IV wrote @

Hi Jan. The call will be available in less than a week. We’re still nailing down the judge. The membership this year will just be part of the application process. We wanted to wait till next year when we have more to offer members before we charge a separate membership fee. See you soon I hope – John

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