A Short History of the Briggs Competition

Pictures and Narrative provided by

Hugh Beykirch

When Eva Briggs—known among her closest friends as “little Eva”—passed away in the year 2003, she stipulated in her last will and testament that a bequest of $20,000 be given to the Santa Rita Art League of GVR (SRAL). Neither she nor those who had known her imagined the profound affect her generous gift would have on the art world and many practicing artists in Green Valley, AZ, and southeastern Arizona.

Hugh Beykirch
Jan 28, 2005 Green Valley News

Her largess came with very specific instructions that some believed to be rather quirky. The League was instructed to have an annual abstract art competition over the course of twenty years. The total annual prize money was stipulated to be $1,000 with the first prize being $500, the second prize in the amount of $300, and $200 rewarding the third-prize winner.

"Woodland Meditation"
2005 Entry
Jean Makela

All submissions to the annual contest needed to be representative of abstraction and could only be 36” by 36” in size. She was adamant about the adherence to the size of the paintings submitted because of her desire for participants “to get out of the box.” These were her own words. While the execution of submissions had to be abstract, Eva Briggs left the choice of medium up to individual entrants—that is, paintings could be in watercolor, oil, acrylic, mixed media, etc.

"Celestial City of Uncompleted Dreams"
2005 Entry
Ann Over

An annual show was deemed viable if it consisted of at least ten entries. Interested members of SRAL formed the first special interest group (SIG) of the League in 2004 and called themselves the “abstract BRIGGade.” Inspired by the formation of such group, many other SIGs have sprung from the idea in the past seventeen years.

"Magic Rocks"

2005 Entry

Ann Mason

Eva would have been astonished when beholding the first show in 2005 in which 49 artists participated and submitted a total number of 79 entries. For the first event, artists were permitted to enter as many as three paintings. Due to space limitations at later venues, the number of entries needed to be restricted. Nevertheless, during the first sixteen years of celebrating Eva Briggs, there was never a reason to cancel the show for lack of interest in the art community. It was the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020 - 2021 that brought about the cancellation of The Seventeenth Annual Eva Briggs Abstract Art Competition now to be held in February 2022.


2005 Entry

Bonnie Nelson

Entrants and celebrants have come and gone; sadly, many dear artists and participants have joined Eva in death. They, along with Eva, look over our shoulders as we prepare to soldier on and listen once again to little Eva’s wish for us to “get us out of the box.”

Thank you, Eva Briggs!

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