Painting the Landscapes of Life: Blackwell Prize Brings Nationally Acclaimed Artist to UWG Newnan and Carrollton

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023

If you are a lover of art — someone captivated by the rich colors and landscapes of painters such as Paul Cezanne and Claude Monet — then you will marvel at the work of Brian Rego.

Winner of the University of West Georgia’s 2023 Blackwell Prize in Painting, a $10,000 award made possible by the Fred R. and Nell W. Blackwell Testamentary Trust of Newnan, Rego is an artist whose brush deftly moves from forests to fields, from seascapes to town squares, from kids walking to school to couples talking on a riverside.

Hosted by UWG’s School of the Arts (SOTA), Rego’s paintings will be on exhibition at The Vault Gallery in Newnan from Friday, Sept. 15, through Friday, Sept. 29, concluding with a reception from 5-8 p.m. He will also discuss his work at an artist talk at 6 p.m. in the UWG Campus Center in Carrollton on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

In addition, Rego will hold a painting workshop in Newnan on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m. Those interested in participating should contact UWG art professor Erin Dixon ([email protected]). Select paintings from the workshop will be featured in Rego’s Vault Gallery exhibition.

Working directly from life and in the studio, Rego creates paintings from the accumulation of his personal experience and narrative. His art combines imagination and memory with components from the observable world, providing, Rego explained, “a world of fiction that is home to my figures. Each figure is a characterization of someone or something in my life, personifying psychological and spiritual states, in the middle of some event or activity.”

Rego was born in Santa Clara, California, and received an M.F.A. from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He has taught in higher education at institutions around the United States and is co-founder of the Midlands School of Art, offering training in visual perception and the classical use of materials. Currently teaching online and working with painters from all over the world, Rego exhibits nationally, and his art is held in personal collections in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Australia. He is represented by the Nancy Margolis Gallery, and currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with his wife and four children.

Celebrating high artistic achievement in two fields, the Blackwell Prize is awarded each spring and fall in writing and observational painting, respectively. In addition to the monetary award, prizewinners receive time and support to advance their craft, staying for two to four weeks at Gray Cottage, a renovated bungalow managed by the Newnan Artist Resident Program.

Blackwell awardees also engage with the West Georgia community during their residency, giving free public readings and lectures, visiting schools and offering workshops for students, and stressing the important roles of art and literature in communal life.

“We are thrilled to be hosting Brian Rego,” said Dr. Chad Davidson, SOTA director. “His work and devotion to art education make him an ideal recipient of this award.”

The Blackwell Prize is part of the legacy of Fred ’71, ’81 and Nell ’70 Blackwell, both public school teachers and UWG alums who created the Blackwell Trust to support public education in Newnan and the surrounding communities.

“The Blackwells had a vision for making their community better through the arts,” Davidson concluded. “This trust is the sole reason we’re able to offer these prizes.”