A painting by a Philadel-phia artist captured the top award at the Meridian Museum of Art's Bi-State Art Competition, the oldest juried art competition in the region.
"From Paris to Arles" by artist Millie Howell was chosen from 600 painting as the Best of Show award winner in the competition by juror Scott Betz.
Howell, an abstract expressionist, received a $1,000 award.
The Bi-State Art Competition is the museum's prestigious annual exhibit that recognizes and celebrates outstanding artistic achievement by artists in Mississippi and Alabama.
Howell said her painting stemmed from a train ride she and her husband Boots took from Paris to Arles in southern France.
The couple traveled to France to attend a musical performance by their son Mark.
"The painting is about our experience," Howell said, noting that the landscape and beautiful flowers were engraved in her mind.
"I never name a painting until it is completed. I love color. It directs me. I always let the paining speak for itself."
Betz said it was great to see "so much excellent work" from the region he called home between 1995 and 1998.
He currently serves as president of FATE (Foundations in Art: Theory and Education) and teaches at Winston-Salem State University. His work has been exhibited and is in collections across the United States as well as Japan, China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Sweden, France, Finland, Columbia, Lithuania and Belgium.
"With over 100 exhibitions under my belt and probably five times that number of rejections, I know competitions can reveal the interests and limitations of the person making the selections," he said. "I enjoyed seeing work that made me wonder - wonder how it developed and what was expressed."
Howell was part of the very first Bi-State Art Competition 39 years ago.
"That's a special connection for us," Museum's Director Kate Cherry said. "And a tribute to the tradition that the competition has been able to establish over three and a half decades."
The Bi-State is open to current and past residents of Mississippi and Alabama. The competition offers over $3,000 in awards and prizes, including the $1,000 Alliance Health Center Best of Show Award.