Long-time Mt. Juliet artist and businesswoman Jean Conatser and her artwork are now forever linked to the Wilson County Fair.
Each year, the fair offers a collectable commemorative print for sale. The print is chosen from first-place winners in the previous year's fair, and Conatser's work was selected to be this year's commemorative piece.
The collectable print tradition began eight years ago when members of the Wilson County Fair Fine Arts Committee decided to raise money for local youth art scholarships in the county. Thus far, they committee has awarded five scholarships to high school and college students studying in Wilson County.
The prints are available during the fair in the fine arts area and in the General Store in Fiddlers Grove. They are $15 unsigned and $25 signed - only the first 100 are signed and numbered. After the fair ends, the prints are available at the fair board office.
Art has been a part of Conatser's life since she was five years old, when her mother entered one of her drawings into the Mt. Juliet school fair. Conatser received second place because the judge thought she was six years old. The judge later told her she would have received first place if he had known she was only five.
Conatser grew up painting, drawing, studying art and entering competitions. She won many awards in Wilson County: competitions at the People's Bank, Wilson Bank & Trust and the Wilson County Fair. In 1983, she started an art business and taught at her studio for 20 years. Conatser and her students won numerous art awards. In 1997, she decided to use her camera to create art and became a professional portrait photographer. As a portrait photographer, she joined the Tennessee Professional Photographers, studying photography with the organization and winning more awards.
Still using her camera to capture images from which to draw and paint, she has decided to create fine art again with oils, pencil and charcoal.
"I thank God for the ability to create fine art and to love and teach others," she said. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Conatser plans to start teaching again and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.