On Sept. 21, the Cattaraugus County Arts Council will present the fifth Southern Tier Biennial, a nine-county contemporary art exhibition.

The STB was framed to provide rural artists with a professionally juried experience, widespread exposure and significant cash prizes, while providing the Southern Tier audience with a contemporary art experience.

Dual opening receptions on Sept. 21 will begin with an awards ceremony and light refreshments at the Olean Public Library Gallery (OPLG) at 3 p.m. The library is at 134 North Second Street in Olean.

After the awards at the library, the celebration will continue with reception at 4:30 p.m. at The Center Gallery, located inside Jamestown Community College’s College Center building at 260 North Union St. in Olean, featuring refreshments and hors d’oeuvres by Sheila Darrow.

Both events are free and open to the public. The show will hang at JCC and the OPLG until Oct. 25 and is available for free viewing to all during gallery hours.

The Biennial runs on a two-year cycle. This year, 87 artists entered more than 256 pieces of work for the juried competition. Thirty-eight artists were accepted, chosen by two prestigious members of the regional art community: Kate Koperski, director of the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University and John Vanco, director and curator of the Erie Art Museum.

Speaking about the jury process, Vanco commented, “We attempted to select the strongest possible work without regard to style or subject matter, but we didn’t look at individual works in isolation from one another. It was a comparative process, and I am confident that the result is a demonstration of the creativity, craftsmanship and vitality of some of the region’s best artists.”

All artists accepted into the show receive generous stipends of $100 each and additionally have their work reproduced in a four-color exhibition catalog. Three Honorable Mention winners will be selected by the jurors and will receive $500 each. The Best of Show winner will win a $1,000 cash award, as well as a catalog and a solo show at the Olean Public Library Gallery in the fall of 2014. To help with the solo show production, that artist also wins a $1,000 honorarium, $1,000 for show supplies and $1,000 for a professional development opportunity.

New for the 2013 STB, visitors to the exhibition will be able to hear the artists speak about their work in their own words thanks to the addition of an interactive audio feature within the galleries. Audio recordings will also be available on the exhibition website, www.southerntierbiennial.com, along with images of the accepted works and information about the artists.

The STB is a collaboration among the Cattaraugus County Arts Council, Olean Public Library Gallery, Jamestown Community College and the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation through the generous sponsorship of the F. Donald Kenney Foundation. For more information contact the Cattaraugus County Arts Council at www.southerntierbiennial.com, www.myartscouncil.net, info@myartscouncil.net or call (716) 372-7455.