Press Release: Metropolitan Bank Honors Beth Edwards with Emmett O'Ryan Award

For immediate release

MEMPHIS, TN (March 3, 2016) – Beth Edwards, a Memphis visual artist, best known for her paintings of children’s toys, is the recipient of the sixth annual Emmett O’Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration. This award is given by Metropolitan Bank to a local artist whose work demonstrates artistic mastery.

As the Emmett O’Ryan Award winner, Edwards receives a $10,000 cash award. Edwards was selected based on her decades of making outstanding work, along with her service to the Memphis community as a professor at the University of Memphis. She is widely recognized for mentoring young artists in the business aspects of art.

Many of Edwards’ most compelling paintings depict seemingly banal objects such as flowers and dolls.  She transforms these objects through the use of monumental scale, saturated colors, and disorienting compositions.  In the process, Edwards reveals hidden drama within scenes that would be, in her own words, “unexceptional in real life.”

The Emmett O’Ryan Award is given annually by Metropolitan Bank in honor of the late Emmett O’Ryan, an avid art collector who was a founding board member of Metropolitan Bank. The winning artist is selected by a committee composed of Metropolitan Bank associates, a member of the ArtsMemphis board of directors, and representatives of Mr. O’Ryan’s family. 

“Emmett O’Ryan was a much-beloved and respected member of the Metropolitan Bank family,” said Phillip May, Market CEO, Memphis“This award is a wonderful way to honor Mr. O’Ryan’s memory and his contributions to the bank and to the arts while supporting the work of an outstanding artist in our community.”

Other finalists for the 2016 Emmett O’Ryan Award include:

  • Richard Lou holds an MFA from Clemson University. His work has been exhibited around the globe, in galleries from New York to Turkey to South Korea. He has curated over 50 shows, and his work has been included or cited in more than 30 publications.
  • Veda Reed earned her BFA from Memphis College of Art, where she is currently Professor Emeritus.  Her work has been exhibited throughout the country.  She has received numerous awards, including, most recently, a Tennessee Governor’s Award in the Arts.
  • Nelson Smith III has created iconic sculptures for multiple companies, including Shoney’s, Pizza Inn, and Cozy Corner Barbecue.  He has provided artwork for Holiday Inn bars, built a pirate ship for the Moonraker eatery, and oversaw much of the signage in Libertyland. 
  • Carl E. Moore studied at the Chicago Art Institute and received his MFA from Memphis College of Art.  He has curated over 80 shows and his work has been displayed at numerous venues including the L. Ross Gallery, the Dixon Gallery, and Crosstown Arts.
About Metropolitan Bank
Metropolitan, the banking subsidiary of Metropolitan BancGroup, Inc., is a $Billion financial institution. After its successful acquisition of Bancsouth Financial Corporation and its subsidiary, Bank of the South, in 2008 and its acquisition of a Tennessee state bank charter, Metropolitan currently operates eight full-service banking offices in Tennessee and Mississippi. Metropolitan offers a full range of financial products and services, including personal and business transaction accounts, online and mobile banking and bill payment, mortgages, home equity lines of credit, construction, commercial and consumer financing, treasury management, remote deposit capture and merchant card services. For more information, visit  

About ArtsMemphis
For more than 50 years, ArtsMemphis has been sustaining Memphis's world-renowned cultural vitality.  ArtsMemphis pursues this mission by making competitive grants to arts groups and individual artists, along with strategic investments in arts-based efforts to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods.  In 2015, ArtsMemphis awarded over $3 million to more than 60 different organizations.

Contact: Lauren Boyer at 901-578-2787 or [email protected]


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