Every year since 1993, Rockport Center for the Arts selects an artist to represent the Annual Art Festival by exhibiting in a solo show. From this exhibition, the signature artwork, or "poster piece," which is selected as the Art Festival Poster Image, is auctioned off at the Annual Art Auction Gala which precedes Art Festival weekend.
This year's poster piece, entitled And Ye Shall Be As One, depicts two towering whooping cranes set on a splashing field of luminous color. Blackman is known for her signature abstract style of swirling layers of color, and this piece is a stunning example. Blackman recently spent a weekend at the Crane House and experienced first-hand the majesty of these rare and compelling birds: "To have seen these magnificent birds for an extended time is a cherished memory. We saw their beautiful mating dance and waved goodbye as they flew north on their 4,000 mile trip to Canada. I hope my paintings (of the cranes) express a bit of the excitement and joy I felt while spending time in their presence."
The original artwork is almost 6 feet tall, creating a larger-than-life impression on the viewer. Blackman's solo exhibition will display her masterful command of painting, ranging from large abstract canvases to historical depictions of Rockport to joyful beach scenes. Blackman has truly captured Rockport's sense of place in this exhibition, cementing her honor as the 18th Poster Artist.
A lifetime artist, Blackman won her first art award for drawing at just six years of age and, as Miss New Mexico, was the first contestant to name art as her talent in the Miss America Pageant. She graduated from Baylor University, going on to do advanced studio work in Paris with Reynold and Marthe Arnould.
Shirley has been a full time artist since 1970, exhibiting in numerous solo shows and being recognized in both national and international exhibitions. Her work is in many private and public collections in the United States, Central America and France. She recently presented a solo show at the Charles Eisemann Center in Dallas. Shirley and her husband Clint established Austin Street Gallery in 2005 in downtown Rockport, showcasing a number of regional artists.