The Art League of Cheatham County held its first juried art show Sept. 27-28 at Sycamore Square.

Cheatham County Mayor Kerry McCarver addressed the more than 100 guests and artists, citing the crucial significance of the arts in enriching and celebrating community with a positive impact on education.

“The Cheatham County School District should be commended for making Pegram Elementary School a fine arts magnet school and the result has been an (increase) of 40 additional students enrolled,” said McCarver, noting that the school had dropped to an all-time low of 180 students from a high of 300 students from just a few years ago. “It could be said that art has put Pegram Elementary School back on the path to stability and quality growth.”

Artist and Cheatham County Art League chair Debbie Keenan of the Keenan Group also addressed those gathered. 

Keenan said that a conversation she had with McCarver in June initiated the plans for the event.

“I had lunch with Ti Rogers and Beth Batson and then emailed them a logo idea,” Keenan said. “Mayor McCarver said there was grant money out there for non-profit or government agencies in rural counties. At the end of August, we had our 501c3 designation. And now we have 37 members in our art league today.”

She said studies have shown that academics suffer in schools without the arts.

“We are looking to have summer workshops as part of our mission,” she said. “Tonight, we have 60 entries from 28 artists. “

She reinforced the Art League’s commitment to enhancing and encouraging the arts in schools and in the community.

“Anything that we do is going to be first class” Keenan said. “It won’t be thrown together. It will be very carefully orchestrated, and it’s going to be beneficial to artists in this community.  We have monthly meetings.  We’re here to help foster your growth, get you more recognition, make more money, and also bring in the other artists as we go along.”

The judges for the show were Kell Black, artist and professor of drawing and foundations at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville; Ken Shipley, artist and former professor of art at APSU; and Randy McQuie, Jr., artist and illustration instructor and admission recruiter at Nossi College of Art in Nashville.

“Kell Black put us in the top three of the events he has covered over the years,” Keenan said. “Noting it was for organization and hospitality.”  

Jessica Willis Fisher provided music at the event.

Merit winners at the show were Jessica Crouch of Ashland City for “Buck”, Kim Copeland of Nashville for “Stopping By The Woods”, and Sonja Ann Becknel of Nashville for “Humble Roots.”

First-place winner was Pat Mullius with “Ascendant Descendant Time Is a Language No One Speaks”. Second-place winner was Monica O’Neill, originally from Pleasant View, with “The Yellow House” and third-place winner was Phoenix Thornburg of Ashland City with “Mon Cheri.”   

For information about becoming a member of The Art League of Cheatham County, send an email to

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