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Butler Art Center opens first digital art exhibit

Rosanne and Armand Natili look at entrees for a digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle

The Butler Art Center officially opened its digital art exhibit on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 11, with 17 artists contributing dozens of pieces in which a computer had some involvement.

“We define ‘digital art’ as anything that was created electronically, or with some kind of electronic manipulation,” said Art Center volunteer Shirley McCauley.

According to Butler Art Center board member Paul Scanlon, this is the first art center’s first exhibit dedicated solely to digital art.

"We weren't sure how many people would be interested and how good the art would be,“ Scanlon said. ”But it’s a great exhibit.“

Debra Tobin places her best in show ribbon onto her entree “The Prayer” during a digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle

Judges Benjamin Hughes and Nicolette Germain decided the prize-winning artists before the show officially opened to the public. The award for “best in show” went to Debra Tobin for her piece “The Prayer”, which started as a charcoal drawing before she imported it into software and applied creative filters.

The Prayer was one of seven pieces — the maximum allowed — that Tobin contributed. For winning “best in show,“ Tobin took home $100.

"I'm very honored to have be selected among all of these wonderful pieces of art,“ Tobin said. ”I love the Butler Art Center. They do a lot of beautiful shows and they offer a nice variety.“

James Tobin stands alongside his entree “Lake Morona” at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle

Tobin is also experienced in traditional painting, photography, and sculpture. Tobin’s husband, James, also contributed seven pieces of artwork to the show.

“(The judges) had a very difficult time picking out winners because everything was such high quality,” McCauley said.

Michael Bilski talks about his art entrees during the digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle

Michael Bilski submitted a series of seven abstract drawings created in Adobe Illustrator and Affinity Designer. One of them, “Angled Boxes and Squares,” took third place. Bilski says that digital art suits him well because he was never comfortable with traditional tools.

"I like to draw straight lines, and I like to make them perfectly. And I can't do that with a pen,“ Bilski said. ”Digital art gives me that outlet.“

Shawna Purnell, of Canfield, Ohio, stands alongside some of her entrees for the digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle

Shawna Purnell of Canfield, Ohio, who also submitted seven paintings, was working on her next painting during the show — on her iPad, through an app called Procreate.

“(With digital art) if you make a mistake you can go back,” Purnell said. “Whereas on a canvas, you have to work around it. You have to paint over it or figure out how you're going to make the mistake work. Also (with digital art) you don’t have to buy all the materials.”

Most of the artwork displayed at the show is available for sale, for prices in the triple digits. The prices are set by the artists themselves, and vary depending on the materials used to print the art. According to Scanlon, the art center takes a small cut of each piece sold.

Prior to opening day, four pieces of art had already sold, but they are staying at the Art Center until the end of the show. Three of the sold pieces of art came from Susan Cottington.

The exhibit runs through Friday, March 8.

Debra Tobin and Rosanne Natili discuss “The Prayer” during a digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Guests enjoy the digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
A piece of art dedicated to Butler-native Marc Fogel is displayed as part of the digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
An up-close look at “Naga” by Dennis Keyes, which took home first place for the digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Lynn Capestrani stands alongside her entrees for the digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
Karen Celedonia stands alongside her entrees for the digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
A pair of entrees for the digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. On the left, a submission by Karen Celedonia entitled “Reflecting a Mood,” and on the right, a submission from James Tobin entitled “Night Horse.” Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle
An up-close look at “Lake Morona” by James Tobin for the digital art exhibit at Butler Art Center in downtown Butler on Sunday, Feb. 11. Kyle Prudhomme/Butler Eagle

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