- 1st Place – Walking Uptown oil by Tom Smagala
- 2nd Place –Couple in a Cross ink on clayboard by Phyllis Graudszus
- 3rd Place – Aussie Wedding Party at Burning Man acrylic on canvas by Isaac Levenbrown
- Farmers Market #1 by Mary E. Johnson-Mason
- Frozen Dainties assemblage by Leslie Brier
- Venice Series: 6 mixed media collage by Cathy Herndon
- On the Shelf photograph by Norma Woodward
- Beyond oil by Carol Josefiak
As the juror for this exhibit, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of the work. Jurying an exhibition with nearly 100 entries and such a wide range of media and approaches was a challenge. I tried to select the best work and also the best show, representing not so much my own point of view but the best of that variety I saw, from photography to mixed media and from pure abstraction to realism.
In juroring works as different as assemblages of Native American subject matter, a photograph of radishes and paintings from a figure painting from Burning Man to pure abstraction, I try to stick to definable criteria. These include a strong use of the principles of design, the vocabulary of the language artists speak and what makes wildly different works speak the same language. I looked at how these principles were used to convey a message that transcended the medium.
Then there is an element of craftsmanship and presentation that becomes a part of this unified whole - and unity is a principle of design- if one has a meticulous pastel framed in a way that contradicts the message of the painting then even that is a design issue. I address this because we all have a tendency to see what we intend but the viewer can only see exactly what is there. If your statement includes that the work should be unframed, make sure you supply the hanging method. The kind of pushpins matter and what your signature looks like is a visible mark. I must add that I juried a show at FCCVA a few years ago and I think the work is even better this time, including in presentation.
Picking awards in the arts is never easy and if the show is good then there is no way to pick them without leaving behind other very good works. That said, I would like to explain why I picked the ones I did and perhaps this will also make clearer how I went about picking this show.
1st Place Walking Uptown by Tom Smagala: This painting's subject is a city street on a gray day. Using color to describe the space and with a composition both complex and simple, this work describes this place and how the artist feels about it, with a nod to a group of New York realist painters of the early 20th century including John Sloan.
2nd Place Couple in a Cross by Phyllis Graudszus: Work does not have to be large and bold to draw attention. This piece uses a form that echoes its content and is meticulous, complex and intimate. It is also matted and framed with the same care.
3rd Place Aussie Wedding Party at Burningman by Isaac Levenbrown: Aussie Wedding makes interesting use of space and uses the desert as a color field, with good use of negative space in the composition. It is funny and reflects a specific sense of place.
Several other pieces deserve special mention. These include: Farmers Market #1 by Mary E. Johnson-Mason. This photograph uses a close up of radishes to create a glowing picture plane. Frozen Dainties an assemblage by Leslie Brier. A mixed media piece, this work has more questions than answers, which engages the viewer. Venice Series: 6 by Cathy Herndon. A collage, this works reads well from across the room, with more revealed close up. On the Shelf a photograph by Norma Woodward. This work is all about simplicity, the austere composition, the choice of subject matter and the formal balance. In addition, the matting and framing echo that, creating a complete statement. Beyond by Carol Josefiak. In this oil on canvas of three boats the principles of design used reflect the meaning of the content.
It was an honor to view the work of so many passionate artists at the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts and I congratulate all who entered on doing fine work.