GREENVILLE — This year is the 40th anniversary of Nancy Foureman serving as the Fine Arts Building chief organizer/leader at the Great Darke County Fair.
She started spearheading for the arts back in 1976, working with the fair board and has continued in that position. And, she has been said to have worked tirelessly to bring Fine Arts out in the community through her leadership.
But, she doesn’t take all of the credit. She said it was Jacquie (North) Clark, another artist, who helped with the cause in the beginning.
“Jacquie and I started it,” Foureman said. “We were both professional painting artists, and back then, there was no place on the grounds for professionals, just amateurs. We went to the fair board and they were excited about the possibility of a fine arts department and offered us a space. They gave up the Veterans Building because at the time it was used as a bathroom.
According to Foureman, there were 32 entries that first year of competition.
“Last year, there were 1,286 entries, but I have no count yet for this year,” she said.
Fine Arts outgrew the Veterans Building and moved into the present building, which at one time housed stalls for animals.
“That helped us to expand and offer a photography department,” Foureman said.
She said she started her art career with crayons. Now, she works in oil, pastel and acrylic and instructs professional and amateur painters at Schreiner University and Richmond Art Institute.
“I’m a trained painter,” said Foureman, who studied at Miami University.
Her co-hort Clark, a 1957 graduate of Greenville High School, also remembers the early days at the Darke County Fair and its fine arts competition.
“It was paint-by-number,” she said. “We thought there was a better solution to this so we went to the fair board.”
Another blast from the past enhancing the 40th anniversary was Clark’s painting of geraniums, which won her a Best of Show rosette at that first art show 40 years ago.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of competition. I have boxes and boxes of rosettes and other ribbons but the only Best of Show was the one here,” she said pointing at the picture she painted four decades ago now on display this week at the county fair.
Clark said her artistic interests flared in first grade after her teacher put her painting up for parent’s night.
Clark studied at Dayton Art Institute on an Anna Bier Scholarship.
“I painted in oil for a number of years and have been doing watercolor for 3o years,” she said. “I attended Martin Wogoman’s classes when I was 12 years old and I studied with Bob Brubaker. That’s where I met Nancy.”
Clark now lives in Bradenton, Florida, and has been a member of the Art Uptown Gallery for 30 years in Sarasota and taught adult education for a number of years in painting and theory in all media.
“I come up here every year for the fair,” she said. “I have taught, but I am not doing that now.”
Clark said watercolor is her favorite media. She is a signature member of the Florida Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society and the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society. She is also a member of the Florida Suncoast Watercolor group and the Pettitcoat Painters, which has the oldest continuing exhibiting membership in the United States.
“My husband, Fred, is completely and extremely supportive,” she said. “He was in real estate, and that was a life-saver for me. That [art] kept me extremely happy because of his long hours.”
Her 1976 Best of Show painting has been hanging on her lanai at home and it will return there after this week.
Clark has her own website at jacquieclark.com.
“That’s a blessing,” she said.
The Greenville Art Guild and artist friends honored Foureman Wednesday at the fair; the guild presenting her with a plant and the others with a gift card and money.
On Wednesday, area artists gathered at the Fine Art Building to paint in celebration of the special anniversary.
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