As an exhibition juror, I am drawn to works of art that introduce subject matter, content and the formal elements (line, color, shape, form, composition, etc.) in interesting and fresh ways. These are the tools artists employ to explore and/or challenge traditional norms.
There are also parameters established by the competition’s sponsors that must be weighed. For example, in the case of a miniature show, one must make judgments based on how successful a piece is given the imposed boundaries – or in spite of those limitations. There were an exceptionally large number of strong entries submitted to this show. Thus, arriving at ten finalists was tough.
The Award of Excellence went to Ariko Watanabi’s Sunbather. Not only is the painting striking for its attention to detail, dynamic composition and bold color but the subject, a cat, is portrayed in a way that captures the true “nature” of the species. Watanabi depicts a feline calmly basking in the sun and in this case avoids the more common “cute” interpretation. At any scale, Sunbather would be an excellent painting.
The First Place Award goes to Beverly Fotheringham’s All Aboard, which features a view of a train’s mechanical parts and railroad tracks. The diagonal and cropped point of view adds to the sense of mystery that might cause the viewer to question for a moment, “what happening here?” What is immediately obvious is that the subject is man-made, intricate and powerful. Subject matter aside, the artist’s even treatment and acknowledgment of the painting’s edges results in a compositionally sound painting.
Glen Leung’s Helicopter Tour #10 was awarded second place. The artist directs our attention to the complexity of contemporary life – from an aerial perspective. A photographer smiles as she aims her camera at the bridge below. It’s clear that the artist in dealing with familiar subject and surroundings. There is a narrative but there is also room for the viewer to construct their own account. Leung successfully combines a light-hearted mood and narrative with loads of visual information.
Melissa Miller Nece’s String Bikinis and Janet Laird-Lagassee’s Cat's Quilt received Merit Awards for similar reasons. Both works reveal an in depth understanding of light, atmosphere and space.
String Bikinis depicts two girls wading into the sunlit water. Their body language suggests the girl’s apprehension.
Cat's Quilt captures light so bright that details on the quilt are washed out. The quilts multifaceted pattern is tastefully situated in the narrow space between the light and shadow.
Honorable Mentions include Gail MacArgel’s Oriental Décor and Kathy Pollack’s Foggy Morn.
Oriental Décor is a formal still life composition containing decorative objects including a jade horse. MacArgel creates a quiet order and pays great attention to surface texture.
Foggy Morn captures a moment in time and the weather conditions are convincing. Pollack’s sensitive handling of a stately home cloaked in fog stands out for its soft edges and spatial atmospherics.
Works by local artist deserve special mention. Gary Preston’s The Road Home. The landscape is romantic and invites the viewer to appreciate the wonder of nature.
Edward E. Pauley