On display: Sue Tarrant

HARLINGEN – Sue Tarrant is excited for tomorrow night.

The former art teacher, now turned artist, is ready to compare her own works to her peers. But she’s also looking to check out the talents of local high school students.

Tomorrow, both adults and high schoolers will have their works on display at the opening of the “Colors of Spring” contest exhibition held at the Harlingen Arts Forum on Jackson Street in downtown.

“I am excited about the show,” she said. “I hope to win, but if someone beats me, then maybe they have turned in something that is more of a wow than what I did.”

Tarrant said this show is part of an effort to bring more awareness to the Harlingen Arts Forum. It is part of the continuing effort to hold monthly shows.

She likes the theme because it is not very restrictive, so all artists interested should be able to submit their works.

“This gives us a broad focus for the artists,” she said. “It kind of gives them some direction as to a theme, but it is not an overbearing theme. We didn’t want a narrow focus.”

Looking ahead, the former Brownsville Independent School District art teacher for 32 years is ready to see the works from these younger artists.

She enjoys student shows and said there is significant talent in the Valley.

“I enjoy working with the kids and I have enjoyed promoting kids’ art,” Tarrant said.

It was in the classroom where she taught kids that judging is subjective. She said there is no scoreboard or clock.

She and her students would enter shows regularly and it was a learning experience for her and them.

“I really enjoyed entering shows with students,” she said. “Brownsville always has their big show and it was good for me if I won a ribbon for credibility and it was good for all when I didn’t because that helped the ones who didn’t win.”

The abstract painter, who also dabbles in pewter and jewelry, retired in 2005. She lives in Brownsville and has lived in the Valley long enough to have her fellow artists present her with a “naturalized Texan” button.

Tarrant has been an artist since she was a child. She has a philosophy with her artwork.

“I do mostly abstracts and non-objects,” she said. “They are related to florals and I make it abstract. Abstract can be carried to the point of not being related to any real object. I like to show people things that they wouldn’t see if I didn’t do them. It is kind of a whimsical approach.”

Originally from Indiana, Tarrant attended college there as an art education major.

Between her junior and senior year, her family moved to the Valley. Her father was a commercial contractor who came down to the Valley to build spec houses. That was in the early 1970s and he built homes in Rancho Viejo and Brownsville Country Club among many other areas.

Tarrant finished school and moved down after she couldn’t find a job in Indiana.

It’s all history now as she takes care of her 88-year-old mother.

But she still is teaching.

One of her most enjoyable experiences is teaching at in-services in Brownsville and Los Fresnos.

That’s where she is able to teach teachers the skills she has perfected.

“I show them what they can do in the classroom,” she said.

Who knows, she may soon see the fruits of that labor at one of these high school shows.


WHAT: “Colors of Spring” art contest exhibition featuring adults and high school students from Harlingen, Raymondville, San Benito, Lyford and Rio Hondo

WHERE: Harlingen Arts Forum, 115 E. Jackson Avenue

WHEN: Show opens tomorrow night, Friday, Feb. 24, and will run through March 24. Friday’s opening coincides with Harlingen Art Night festivities.

WHY: To provide a contest and display the talents of local artists, both young and old. Gift certificates, money and ribbons will be presented to winners in the adult and high school categories. Pesa Enterprises in Brownsville donated money for the gift certificates.