Annual National Drawing and Small Sculpture Show Opens February 19

Article by: Michael Bratten

As an art professor at Del Mar College in the mid 1960s, Joseph A. Cain speculated that the way to create an art exhibition worthy of national acclaim was to focus on two genres – drawing and small sculpture – and bring in a nationally recognized judge. It was a magic formula, and the event Cain started at Del Mar, the Annual National Drawing and Small Sculpture Show, marks its 50th anniversary this year.

“When it started, there was no show exactly like this,” said Jonizo Cain-Calloway, PhD, Cain’s daughter and professor of English at Del Mar. “I think it put our art department on the map.”

In fact, the annual show draws works from artists from across the United States. 

This year, over 130 works were submitted with 65 selected for the exhibit by guest juror Brian Dettmer, an internationally known sculptor who specializes in sculpting books. His work has been shown throughout North America, Germany and Spain, and he has appeared on the CBS Evening News.

Past guest jurors include sculptors Peter Voulkos, John Chamberlain and Jesus Moroles and painter Mel Ramos, all of whom are respected names in the art world, noted Kenneth Rosier, professor of art and chairperson of the Department of Art and Drama at Del Mar.

The show is a true resource for the community as well as Del Mar’s art students, Rosier said.

“It’s not online. It’s not in a book. It’s real. That’s exciting for art lovers and for our students who get to see art that wasn’t made by their instructors.” 

The show opens with a free reception Friday, Feb. 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Joseph A. Cain Memorial Art Gallery, located in the Fine Arts Center on Del Mar’s East Campus on Ayers Street. For more information about the reception or the 50th Annual National Drawing and Small Sculpture Show, call the DMC Art Office at 361-698-1216. 

While on campus earlier this month, Dettmer selected purchase awards for the College, which exhibit coordinators will announce during the reception.

Art collectors may also purchase many of the exhibition pieces, Rosier added. Every year, Del Mar purchases a few pieces and adds them to its permanent collections, one of which is housed in the Cain Gallery.

To get a sneak peek of some of the selected works for this year’s show, visit

The show runs through May 6. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. until noon on Fridays. 

Cain was a World War II and Korean War veteran and an accomplished painter when he came to Del Mar, Cain-Calloway said. As a professional artist, he exhibited his work in many shows and won many awards. He was chairperson of Del Mar’s Art Department and a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve when he passed away in 1980.

The longevity of the National Drawing and Small Sculpture Show is a testament to Cain’s foresight.

“This show is national in scope,” Rosier said. “The quality of the art is outstanding. Our students who can’t easily travel to other cities benefit from it. In that way, Joe Cain was a visionary.”

IN THE PHOTO: The late Joseph A. Cain served as chairman of the College’s Art Department for 11 years and launched the annual National Drawing and Small Sculpture Show 50 years ago. 

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