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And the Winners Are…

Many of the artists in the 5th Annual 2017 Illinois River Salon came to the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony at Fayetteville Underground last night. Together we celebrated the beautiful artwork, enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and heard results of the judging. Jeff Legg, our judge, was also in attendance.

Congratulations to everyone on the thoughtful paintings and drawings, and especially to the winners. Without further adieu, here are the winning pieces:

The top three prizes were as follows: $2,500 Best of Show went to Lawrence McElroy for “Prairie Grove Sunrise”, $1,500 2nd Place went to Larry DeGraff for “Entangled”, and $1,000 3rd Place went to Jason Sacran for “The Grand View”.


Best of Show –  “Prairie Grove Sunrise” by Lawrence McElroy


2nd Place – “Entangled” by Larry DeGraff


3rd Place – “The Grand View” by Jason Sacran

Honorable Mentions (cash prize of $500) went to Donna Jackson for “Illinois Watershed Center Pond”, Willis Miller for “Ready to Go”, Nancy Harkins for “Touch of Gold”, and Thia Schuler for “Benton County Barn”.


Honorable Mention – “Illinois Watershed Center Pond” by Donna Jackson


Honorable Mention – “Ready to Go” by Willis Miller


Honorable Mention – “A Touch of Gold” by Nancy Harkins


Honorable Mention – “Benton County Barn” by Thia Schuler

Also, merchandise awards from our sponsors went to: Kathryn Fisher for “Twilight on Sage Creek”, Julie Gowing Hayes for “Spring Fed”, Bob Snider for “Illinois River Bridge”, Pat Meyer for “Osage Flower Garden”, Virginia Grass Simmons for “At the Curve”, Charles Peer for “Oh Lovely Guardians”, Margie Moss for “Remembering a Day with Chihuly”, and Duane Hada for “Evening Float”.

Thank you again to all of the participants. We already look forward to what 2018 brings.

Again, thank you to our many sponsors, but especially the Illinois River Watershed Partnership and the Windgate Foundation.


2017 Illinois River Salon is Open!

The 5th Annual Illinois River Salon is now open. You can go visit the show at Fayetteville Underground Gallery. Check their website for gallery hours.

This show is a celebration of the beauty of the Illinois River watershed (of NW Arkansas and NE Oklahoma) through 2-dimensional painting and drawing. All works are inspired by the explorations of each of the 44 artists in the watershed region.

Also, please consider joining us for the Awards Reception at Fayetteville Underground Gallery, 101 W. Mountain St., Fayetteville, Arkansas, November 16th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.. The judge of awards this year is master artist, Jeff Legg, of Rogers, Arkansas.

Heart of America Artists Association would like to thank the Illinois River Watershed Partnership and the Windgate Foundation for supporting the show the past 5 years.

Thank you also to our President, Julie Hayes for the extra work she’s taken on this year, and to Becky Christensen who helped hang the show.

2017 Call to Artists


The new call is up on Online Juried shows! Deadline for entry is September 27th, 2017. Click here to view the prospectus or enter.

2016 Call to Artists


Michele Wells of Saint Louis, Best of Show winner of the 2015 event.

We are excited to once again be able to bring you the Illinois River Salon. The call for the 2016 event has been posted. Click here to see the prospectus and rules for entry. Please note that this year we will not have a separate membership application.

Looking forward to seeing all the great entries. Thank you for helping us promote the beauty of Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma.

Julie Hayes Named Executive Coordinator


We are excited to announce that Julie Hayes will become a part of the administration of Heart of America Artists’ Association. Julie is a natural fit with our organization, and she will add be able to help us take the mission of HOAAA much further.

She’s also an excellent artist, which makes her an even better partner. You might remember she was one of the winners of the 2015 Illinois River Salon. You can see her work at

Thanks Julie. We look forward to having you on board as we strive to elevate the arts here in the heart of America.

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

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Opportunity for Regional Artists

Beyond the Frame: Experiencing Art in Downtown Siloam Springs is an exciting new series of art events that will feature a reveal of new pieces of public art, and Outdoor Art Market, and an Art Walk with indoor gallery exhibits. These events will be hosted on the second Saturdays of summer months from 4-7p.m. in historic downtown Siloam Springs. Dates are May 9th, June 13th, July 11th, and August 8th.

We would love for you to be involved! Main Street Siloam Springs is funding a series of smaller-scale public art projects to be revealed in June, July, and August of this year. I have attached information about these projects to this e-mail – we hope you consider applying! Also, you’ll receive more information from me soon about Beyond the Frame: Experiencing Art in Downtown Siloam Springs, which is coordinating a series of outdoor summer art events that will be hosted in historic Downtown Siloam Springs where you can showcase and sell your art – we’d love to have you participate!