The Carbon County Art League (CCAL) held a free art show last weekend, that featured over 70 works by 20 local artists in the Hampton Inn conference room.

Since no official judges were present, each visitor to the exhibit voted for their favorite painting. The winner, Marjorie Long, received $100 for her painting of Main Street in Jim Thorpe. This same painting won first prize at the CCAL's show during the summer.

Family Promise, a Carbon County nonprofit organization focused on helping homeless families, sold greeting cards which were designed by members of the CCAL, as well as discount day passes which were donated by Skirmish Paintball.

According to CCAL President Earlene Russell, previous galleries drew larger crowds. Most visitors were hotel guests or club members. Russell attributes low attendance to the venue change.

"People were familiar with the old venue, so they came in bigger numbers. This year we changed the venue. Once word gets out, this exhibit will draw bigger crowds each year," Russell said.

The featured art consisted of landscapes, portraiture, and still-life. The various paintings, sketches, and photographs stimulated passers-by to utter "Ooh that's pretty," and "I like that one."

While most visitors to the exhibit were adults, some parents brought their children. James Ricketts and his wife Stephanie Schuster, brought their 7-year-old son Logan Gerhart and 4-year-old daughter Sophia Ricketts. An artist and art enthusiast, Ricketts said his children, whom he taught to draw, are also very artistic.

"I grew up around art. My dad was an art teacher and I am involved in many types of art," Ricketts said.

"I am no artist, but Jim and the kids are all amazing artists," said Schuster. Her comment was reinforced by her son Logan, who quickly added, "I made artist of the month at school."

To the delight of Russell and members of the club, Logan and Sophia expressed great interest and energy for art.

"We try to attract everyone from the accomplished artists and beginning artists to art appreciators," Russell said. "When kids have an appreciation for art, it shows that the arts in Carbon County are alive and well."

On both days esteemed members of the art community arrived to browse the exhibit.

Anibal Collazo, 73, is a retired New York City firefighter. He lost many associates and friends when the Twin Towers fell, and in the years that followed, he used his lifetime of art experience as an outlet for his emotions. Now, since time has passed, he expresses brightness and joy with his art.

As a child he drew on the sidewalk with chalk. Despite lacking formal training, his art is so realistic that observers feel as if they are in the painting.

Retired Palmerton Middle School art teacher Mary Kocher, 91, is known for her paintings of local buildings, which are featured in businesses and municipal buildings in the area. She is the oldest member of the CCAL and is one of the founders of the club. In addition to her work on display, her previous works were compiled in a book and were on sale at the exhibit.

Heather Wojcik, 19, of Effort, is the youngest member of the CCAL. She studies art at Northampton Community College. Her featured still-life sketch, Two Vases, was drawn for one of her classes.

On Sunday evening artists arrived to peruse the exhibit and retrieve their work. The president of the Monroe County Arts League Julia Saeger liked the display.

"It may not be the biggest exhibit, but it was well organized and the pieces are arranged based on similarities; people often want to compare similar works of art. Also, these paintings are just lovely" Saeger said.

Art is an important part of any community. Saeger and Russell agree that art is a form of communication that everyone can understand; it crosses cultural and linguistic boundaries, and can be appreciated by everyone.

The Carbon County Art League hopes to increase its membership. Artists and art appreciators over 18 years of age and from in or out of the county are eligible for membership.