Published 12:06 am Saturday, August 30, 2014

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Shown is Russell working on one of her projects. | File photo

Montgomery’s Stonehenge Gallery will feature the work of Andalusia artist Margo Russell Sept. 11 through Oct. 3 in a show of New Alabama Art, “Native Daughter, Native Son.”

Russell said her upbringing greatly influenced her art.

“My daddy was an Alabama country boy who had a pleasant singing voice, enjoyed Jimmie Rodger’s music and Hank Williams’ songs,” she said. “I remember one night when he took me to hear Hank play at the Riverside Inn on the Conecuh River. My sister, brother and I grew up on that river, watching our dad tend his livestock and listening while he gave us lessons on how to respect nature and its critters.

“Mama was a beautiful, talented, spirited Hispanic woman,” Russell said. “From the side porch, she sewed a hundred miles a day on her pedal sewing machine. Our house was in town and when she was not sewing, she was digging in the dirt. Her flowerbeds were the most wondrous blooming creations on our street.”

Russell said she realized as a second grader that she could see in a different way.

“From the encouragement over my artwork by classroom teachers and a mentor in high school, I set out to study art in college,” she said.

She was a freshman at the University of Alabama 51 years ago.

“It was a confusing experience and I was disillusioned about my career choice for more than two years, because the art department fostered Abstract Expressionism,” she said. “My marks did emerge, however, and are evident in the way I make art today.”

She went on to earn a BFA from UA and a MS in art education from Florida State.

“My grandchildren and I play in the creeks and streams, haunt the woodlands, grow beautiful flowers, and seek out bluegrass music makers,” she said. “My art reflects these pleasures.”

She earned the Emily B. Gassenheimer Award for “Woods Behind the Fort” at the 2011 Montgomery Art Guild Museum Exhibition.

Her paintings and drawings of bluegrass musicians were presented in a 2012 solo exhibition, “String Notes and Brush Strokes,” by the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy.

Michael Vaughn Sims also is featured in the September show.

Sims is a Mobile native who was reared in Selma and studied architecture at Auburn.

He earned his BFA in theatre from Auburn in 1989 and his MFA from Yale School of Drama in 1992. After 16 years in New York as a theatrical designer, he returned to Lowndes County in 2008 to pursue a career as an independent fine artist.

An opening night reception is set for 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. on Thurs., Sept. 11. Stonehenge Gallery is located at 1041 East Fairview Ave. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday