Asheville watercolor artist Ann Vasilik received a long-awaited honor when one of her paintings was selected for the 147th annual International American Watercolor Society exhibition in New York. She said her awareness of the watercolor society dates back to the late 1960s. “I have always wished that I could become one of them, and get my paintings into their shows,” she said.
Vasilik submitted entries of what she considered her best work for most of the past 25 years. “I knew that the chances of my getting in were slim, with up to 2,000 applications in some years, and the quality of the competition.”
This year, from a total of over 1,200 entries by artists from around the world, only 126 were accepted for the prestigious show at the Salmagundi Art Club on Fifth Avenue. The exhibition opens on Tuesday, April 1, and runs through April 20.
The painting Vasilik submitted, “Varanasi on the Ganges,” was from a photograph she took on vacation with her husband in India. The picture is of the city of Varanasi as seen one misty morning from the Ganges River. “The river, as is all water in India, is sacred. At dusk there is a lavish daily Hindu ceremony to put the river to sleep for the night. It’s like a carnival with cymbals, and fire and priests on the shore,” Vasilik said.
“At dawn each morning they have a similar but smaller ceremony to awaken the Ganges. The Hindu people hold these solemn ceremonies in very high regard. During the low morning light, we were on a boat looking on at the famous gats, or steps, that climb up to the temples and other beautiful buildings on the banks. I knew the painting has presence, it was a very strong piece of work for me.”
“Varanasi on the Ganges” was not Vasilik’s first choice to submit to the competition, but it had won a first place award in the Watercolor Society of North Carolina show in 2012. “I had almost forgotten about it because the deadline was back in November. I came home and my husband said, ‘You better go read your email because you got into the American Watercolor Society,’ and I thought what a cruel joke this is. When I read it I couldn’t believe my eyes. After 25 years of trying to get into the show I was finally accepted.”
Vasilik also has a painting accepted for the 37th Southern Watercolor Society Show in Texas. Members from 18 states and the District of Columbia compete in the annual juried event. Her painting “Venetian Red,” of gondola boats is another subject from her travels. The show is on exhibit April 1-27.