Mussels #2 watercolor with pen and ink by Michael Foster Shibley of Takoma Park, MD
Desk Chair oil painting by Nancy Wade of Fredericksburg, VA
Reflection of an Egret oil painting by Charlotte Richards of Fredericksburg, VA
Interior acrylic painting by Barbara Taylor Hall of Fredericksburg, VA
Blue Birds photograph by Gary Kessel of Fredericksburg, VA
The Leaning Tower of Purina Descending a Staircase acrylic and color pencil drawing by David Lovegrove of Fredericksburg, VA
Dewdrop electrostatic coating on aluminum by Mike Minnery of Fredericksburg, VA
As the juror for this exhibit, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of the work. Jurying an exhibition with over 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 super realism.
In juroring works as different as painting pure abstraction on aluminum and photographs of bluebirds I try to stick to definable criteria. These include a strong use of the principles of design which is the vocabulary of the language artists speak and what makes wildly different works speak the same language. I looked to 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 -since even unity is a principle of design, if one has a meticulous pastel framed inadequately that is arguably also a design problem as well.
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.
Mussels #2 by Michael Foster Shibley uses strong contrast, cross complementary colors and repetition to find that sweet spot between realism and abstraction. It takes a very simple subject matter and makes a bold statement.
Desk Chair by Nancy Wade makes bold and yet subtle use of negative space. Vacant chairs can speak about who is not there and be about emptiness, and the composition of this painting echoes this, while the soft surface in those negative spaces contrasts to the reflective chair. It is very simple and yet upon second look not so.
Reflection of an Egret by Charlotte Richards is also partly about what is not there. The composition reinforces the theme and uses rhythmic lines and contrasting values to describe something that is both very still and very chaotic.
Several other pieces deserve special mention. These include:
The Leaning Tower of Purina Descending a Staircase by David Lovegrove makes fanciful reference to art history in the title and uses almost primary colors and almost geometric forms to create a place that exists only on this paper.
Another very quiet and perhaps easy to overlook piece from this show that makes lovely use of these design principles is Blue Birds- a photograph by Gary Kessel. The piece is structured with the pickets of a fence defined by strong light and shadow, the bird's placement and gestures, and the gray green colorfield combining to make a statement.
Dewdrop by Mike Minnery is a well presented and unified abstraction in a thoroughly contemporary medium.
Interior by Barbara Taylor Hall is a good example of how presentation can support the work by echoing the elements within it, though the frame itself is very basic.
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.
Karen J. Stinnett received her BFA in painting and
printmaking with a minor in ceramics from Western Carolina
University in 1977. She studied painting and printmaking at the
University of Georgia, Athens in 1978, and received her MFA
in painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills,
Michigan, in 1980. She has received many awards for her work
in national exhibitions and has works in numerous private and
corporate collections such as J. R. Reynolds, Inc., Wachovia
National Bank, Embassy Suites Hotels and The University of
Virginia. She is currently teaching at the Highland School in