January 6, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Two Exhibitions, Two Opportunities to Support Scholarships for VSU Art Students

Top: Image by Craig Hawkins for DrawProject 2015

Bottom: Image by Dominick Gheesling for "Way Down XL"

VALDOSTA — Between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 12, the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts will celebrate the opening of two exhibitions designed to benefit Valdosta State University Department of Art students. The general public is encouraged to stop by, view the works on display in the various galleries, and bid on their favorites.


Throughout 2014, the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts staff and the Department of Art faculty at VSU invited community, regional, and national artists to interpret the concept of “drawing” using any medium, subject, style, and technical approach and create an original artwork to be exhibited and donated for auction. An estimated 50 submissions were selected and framed for this year’s DrawProject, sponsored by Classic Art & Frame Co., Guardian Bank, and Bush Wealth Management.

The annual drawing invitational exhibition benefits two scholarships.

The Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts Scholarship is awarded annually to support a VSU junior art, design, or art education major for meritorious production in the classroom and a commitment to service within the community.

The Danielle B. Harmon Student Merit Scholarship recognizes departmental majors for superior classroom performance. Before her death in 2010, she was an associate professor in the VSU Department of Art.

“The DrawProject charity exhibition event is rooted in the support of the many community sponsors, donors, patrons, and artists who, year after year, give so generously of their time, talent, and financial resources,” said Michael T. Schmidt, head of VSU’s Department of Art. “Because of the strong community support for the DrawProject, we continue to make a long-lasting impact on our students, which is apparent each time a scholarship is awarded to a bright, hardworking, and dedicated VSU student-artist.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on their favorite pieces during the silent auction portion of the evening. All works will begin with a minimum bid of $40. Those that reach bids of $80 or more will be closed at 7 p.m. Those that receive a bid of $150 or more will be offered during a live auction near the conclusion of the reception. 

Works that do not reach $80 in bids during the reception will remain open to bidding until they either reach the $80 mark or the show closes on Wednesday, Feb. 25.

DrawProject is the brainchild of Jamie Harmon, former curator of the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts. 

Contact Bill Shenton at the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts at (229) 247-2787 or bshenton@turnercenter.org or Michael T. Schmidt at the VSU Department of Art at (229) 333-5835 or mschmidt@valdosta.edu for more information.

On the Web:






On June 14, 2013, Dominick Gheesling launched his canoe from Fargo, ready to begin his 240-mile journey down the Suwannee River to the Gulf of Mexico. His goal was to photograph the river’s 96 or so springs in black and white and color, above the water’s surface and below, using both film and digital technology.

Gheesling completed his expedition in 29 days, and through Wednesday, Feb. 25, he will share a selection of 20 images captured during his solitary adventure along the wild black-water river in his one-man exhibition, “Way Down XL.”

“Photographing the length of this historic and iconic southern river connected me to life and to the earth in a manner that I had been missing for some time,” he shared. “The photographs are meant to serve as documents of the actual conditions of the Suwannee during the summer of 2013. Beyond that purpose, I hope that they allow the viewer to have some sense of what it is like to exist in the spaces in which they were made or to remember/understand why it is important for humans to spend time in these spaces. I am more convinced that ever that there is an intrinsic need in humans to spend time much closer to our natural state on this planet.”

Attendees will have an opportunity to bid on 37-inch by 47-inch prints of Gheesling’s images throughout the evening. Bidding will start at $100, and 50 percent of the final sales will benefit art student scholarships. 

“It is important to fund student scholarships because the creative process costs money, and I find it particularly important that my students’ creativity is not hindered by budgetary concerns,” said the VSU assistant professor of art. “Someone has to provide the support, in this case financial, for our students to reach beyond their own fixed paradigms and limitations through diligent effort, unflinching exploration, and hard work.”

Gheesling joined the VSU Department of Art faculty in 2010 and primarily teaches photography courses. He holds an associate degree from Tallahassee Community College, where he previously served as an adjunct professor from 2007 to 2009. He also holds a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Fine Arts, both in studio art, from Florida State University.

Contact Dominick Gheesling at (229) 259-2074 or jdgheesling@valdosta.edu for more information.

On the Web:




Dominick Gheesling was featured in the September 2013 issue of Valdosta Scene magazine. Visit http://issuu.com/valdostascene/docs/valdosta-scene-september/31?e=8568384%2F4641341 to view that four-page spread.

NOTE: The Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts is located at 527 N. Patterson St.

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

DrawProject 2015 and Dominick Gheesling's "Way Down XL" help the university meet the following goals: 

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 2: Increase financial support for the institution.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.