A Touch of Color photograph by Steven S. Gregory of Tampa, FL
Stability I and Stability II encaustic/yarn/handmade paper by Sonia Pratt of Oakland, MD
A Visit to Grandmother's House artist book by Robert S. Hunter of Colonial Beach, VA
Street Songs pastel painting by Kay L. Roscoe of Fredericksburg, VA
Red Hills - Morocco oil painting by Christine Luckman of Silver Spring, MD
Likin' Lichen #1 fiber sculpture by Joyce Leatherwood of Fredericksburg, VA
House in the Country watercolor painting by Bro Halff of San Diego, CA
I was pleased to be the juror for the March Touch of Red Exhibition at the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts. It was also my pleasure to select the three top awards, as well as a few honorable mentions. Many times in an all-media show, there is not a given theme and it is up to the juror to determine the contextual scope of the show. In this case, it was fun to think about all the work in response to the color red, which also happens to be one of my favorite colors. As you look around the gallery, you will find works executed in many mediums that express a wide range of conceptual and formal possibilities to great effect. While everyone sees color a bit differently, I suspect we will all agree on the seductive power of this color. Red is often associated with good fortune, love and passion, energy and action. In positive ways, we see red as an assertive, strong, stimulating, exciting, powerful, courageous, or spontaneous color. Sometimes to the contrary, we also "see red" and associate it with anger, aggression, fear, intolerance, violence, brutality, and danger. Delightedly, the works in this exhibition embrace the positive vibes of this versatile and intense color. As such, the artists use the color red...
- Descriptively as the local predominant color of watermelon slices and apples.
- Conceptually as the implied color of strawberries and cherries.
- Specifically as the identity of a red headed woodpecker or the red hills of Morocco.
- Symbolically as the stripes of the American flag or the iconic color of a fire engine.
- Psychologically as blood stains in wax or distressed paint on an abandoned figure in the woods.
- Humorously to emphasize oversized glasses on a small dog.
- Metaphorically and dramatically by contrasting a single color against tone.
Red was also used to...
- Amplify overlooked details of a sign, chair, leaf, or rock.
- Convey time of day in a garden in the heat of the day or the coolness of a street corner at dusk.
- Express the time of year such as autumn wrapped in fog or after a rain, summer reflected in water's glare, or winter frozen in place.
- Create visual tension through the complimentary contrast of red against green.
- Intensify a mood through the temperature of heightened/warm or subdued/cool hues.
- Establish visual rhythms within and across an abstract field.
Most importantly, the color red places the viewer's relationship to the scene. Through its intensity and warmth, red attracts our attention and centers our gaze. It becomes the literal doorway into the scene, which unlocks the emotional content of these works of art. Whether inserted as a figure or abstract shape, red in all of its wonderful manifestations anchors these compositions and guides our interpretations.
Ultimately, one wants one's art to be memorable. As the viewer, I want to experience the world through someone else's eyes. Like visual poetry, good work should reveal something new, challenge preconceptions, and enhance our lives. Technique alone was not enough for me to include a piece; rather I was guided by the artist's vision in combination with their expertise. I was drawn to work that prompted me to see or interpret the subjects in a new and fresh way. Ultimately, whether I was viewing painting, photography or sculpture, I looked for surprise and nuance, seeking unique images that remained with me long after the jury process was over.
Reni Gower is a Professor in the Painting and Printmaking Department at Virginia Commonwealth University.
She has been a practicing artist for over 30 years. She also curates award winning traveling exhibitions.
Reni Gower -- Reni Gower is a Professor in the Painting and Printmaking Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2014, she was honored to receive the College Art Association’s Distinguished Teacher of Art Award, as well as Virginia Commonwealth University’s and VCUarts’ Distinguished Teaching Awards. In addition to her teaching and painting practice, she curates award winning traveling exhibitions. Her art work has been showcased at international and national venues for over 30 years. She is the recipient of numerous grants including a NEA/SECCA Southeastern Artist Fellowship and Virginia Commission for the Arts Project Grants. Her work is represented in various collections including the Library of Congress Print Collection; Pleasant Company/Mattel, Inc; the American Embassies in Lima, Peru and Osaka, Japan; Media General, Inc; and the Federal Reserve Bank. She holds a MFA from Syracuse University, a MA from University of MN-Duluth, and a BS from the University of WI-Madison. www.renigower.com || Fall 2014 Updates