WATERVILLE — Alan Tibbetts approached a charcoal drawing at Common Street Arts Saturday, stepped back, and then moved closer.

“That’s beautiful,” he said. “A lot of detail. It’s just amazing that anybody has that kind of talent.”

Tibbetts, 60, of Sidney, was mesmerized by “Peeling Potatoes,” the charcoal-on-paper drawing by Levant artist Landon Cornelius, which netted the Best in Show award at the Maine Open Juried Art Show.

Tibbetts was on his third visit to the show since it opened April 11 on the first floor of The Center at 93 Main St. downtown.

Hosted by Common Street Arts, a program of Waterville Creates!, and held in collaboration with the Waterville Area Art Society, the 27th annual show continues through May 13 and is open to the public, free of charge.

Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Though not an artist himself, Tibbetts, a political activist and retired member of the Army National Guard, said art intrigues him. He perused the two-room gallery Saturday, taking in the more than 150 landscapes, portraits, and abstract and impressionistic pieces by more than 80 artists from around the state.

He was scrutinizing each one, in anticipation of voting on his favorite for the show’s People’s Choice award, to be given to the artist garnering the most votes by May 13.

“I like art. I like to take photographs, but I can’t paint by numbers if I had to,” he said. “I saw this show a couple of years ago at the Waterville Public Library and I was really fascinated.”

Waterville Area Art Society member Hilary Ervin, 92, a docent at the Colby College Museum of Art, was volunteering at the show Saturday. Ervin works in fiber arts, using dye to paint fabrics and make coats. For years she created quilted, hand-painted coats.

While the library hosted the annual show in the past, the new venue offers a much larger space so that patrons can view the works of art more comfortably, according to Ervin.

“People are astonished that there’s so much talent that’s been gathered together for us to see,” Ervin said. “Patrons’ first reaction is how much nicer it is to have this show here than in the library. We were always very happy to have the library help us with it, but it was very difficult to back off and see everything. Now, this is just beautiful — a wonderful area. We’re very, very fortunate here.”

Nate Towne, marketing manager for Waterville Creates!, said the community support and love of the Waterville Area Art Society is palpable through the show, and the society has provided many volunteers in the Common Street gallery. When the Waterville Downtown Farmers Market opened Thursday, the Art Society’s volunteers were able to keep the show open an hour longer, enabling market patrons also to visit the art show, according to Towne. He said he hopes that also will be possible during the Waterville Rocks! outdoor concert series held four times during the summer from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays in adjacent Castonguay Square, starting July 28.

Towne said the art show offers a diverse array or works and “something for everyone.” Like Tibbetts, he admired Cornelius’ “Peeling Potatoes” piece.

“It shows a mastery of its craft in the charcoal medium,” he said.

Presenting sponsors for the show, besides the Art Society and Waterville Creates!, are Kennebec Savings Bank and The Framemakers. Jurors are KiKa Nigals, an artist and program manager for Waterville Creates!; and Tim Christensen, a master potter and teacher.

Upcoming events at Common Street Arts include “Picturing Waterville: Photographs by Gary Green and Images from the Waterville Historical Society,” May 24 to July 1, with an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 25. “Snap,” an interactive community photography project to be held in conjunction with “Picturing Waterville,” will be available at fb.me/snapwtvl; and a free pinhole photography workshop with Johanna Moore will be held from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 27. Also, a free urban sketching workshop with Helene Farrar will be held from 10 a.m. to noon June 10, sponsored by Colby College Center for the Arts and Humanities.

A community panel and discussion will be held at 2 p.m. June 17 to explore how photography can activate shared experiences in the 21st century, especially in communities undergoing social and economic transformation.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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