A new year awaits! This year we are starting off with a fresh look at the joys of painting with abandon for our theme “Experimental”. The gallery has many innovative works that offer different styles and techniques. Many thanks to our primary volunteer this time, Mansueto Fabugais, and as always Laura Mossman for expert help in organizing the space.
Our judge, Matt Adams is a Houston-based collector and President of the Visual Arts Alliance (www.VisualArtsAlliance.org) for the past 13 years and has helped produce 30 professional juried exhibits. He has also written about local artists on his blog (www.HALT713.com). Previously a curator for Brookfield Office Properties downtown, Matt has produced exhibits with local artists in corporate spaces. His passion is for supporting local artists, their artworks and their activities. We were pleased to have him evaluate our entries and he found them fascinating. Here are some of his thoughts and comments from the awardees:
Matt Adams: Artworks that contain a surprise are more captivating than those that are an “easy read”, I think. The surprise in this is that it is a cutout mounted over a surface. Another hallmark of a successful artwork is one that directs the viewer’s eye and this piece certainly does that. Finally, I appreciate the formality of a single object being meticulously placed within a field and this piece certainly demonstrates that.
Katie Steck: I've been getting more interested in exploring creative uses of the watercolor paper itself as part of a watercolor piece. Although it's difficult to tell from a photograph, the center part of the painting is cut out and mounted with some subtle folding/bending of the paper to make the subject come forward in a more engaging way. I chose to title it "Fortune Teller" to encourage the viewer to engage and ask the piece questions--hopefully receiving an interesting answer about themselves in the process :)
“Of Coachmen and Carriages”
Matt Adams: This piece has a surprise in it - the seam of two pieces of paper. This seemingly simple creative decision carries a lot of significance in my eyes. The amount of motion in the figures brings the composition to life, making me feel like I’m in the city scape myself. Finally, I like that the scene carries off all four edges of the paper; we are being given just a fraction of a much larger scene thereby engaging the viewer’s imagination.
Larry Spitzberg: I started out thinking I would make a collage out of the 4 18x24 inch recent paintings I had from Brugge, Belgium of coachmen, horses, and carriages. I moved the four around randomly but once I accidently put these two paintings next to each other they popped! So I cut one to make the 48 inch max with frame and repainted both together so they would look like a panorama. Voila! It worked!
Matt Adams: There is a subtle, successful surprise in this artwork - the hard edge defining the upper-left portion of the composition. There are two components within this composition, the relationship of which holds the viewer’s attention. Finally, although this is obviously inspired by the art deco/cubist styles, it reads as completely contemporary to 2023.
Maria Rodriguez-Alejo:Usually, my paintings have a lot of texture, glazing and vibrant colors. So, for this one I wanted to do something different. I decided to experiment with geometric shapes, painting flat and with a limited palette. I planned a diagonal composition. I started by painting one big shape and then adding other shapes tied to each other creating angles and depth (I guess the diagonal composition got a bit lost in this process…) There is also molding paste on two areas/shapes to create a 3D effect with some shading to accentuate the illusion of depth. I keep working on painting loose and this painting is not that. But I like how this painting turned out. It was a bit stressful to do all those hard edges, but I think it has a vintage feel that I really like. I’m happy others liked it too!
Honorable Mention - Kim Granhaug
Matt Adams: This artist is definitely a mark maker, demonstrating many styles of marks. The result is a lyrical, vibrant composition that just falls off all the edges. Perhaps this is a jubilant piece for downcast times?
Kim Granhaug: I love making marks and this piece was fun to do. I was definitely meaning to create a mood for celebration.
Honorable Mention - Katherine Rodgers
“L’art de Vivre en Rouge (The art of living in Red)”
Matt Adams: This artwork demonstrates experimentation in materials in a very successful, fun way. The buildup of collage elements and media provides a lot of narrative content that engages the interested viewer.
Katherine Rodgers: The painting, "L'art de vivre en rouge" is the first of my series from "The Art of Living Series." The series was started while at an artist residency in France last winter. The start of the Ukraine-Russia war had just begun while I was there and I was watching people leave all of their belongings and flee their homes. It made me think about what is needed and necessary to live a good life and to answer the question, "what is the art of living?" The poppy is very symbolic of the blood on the battlefield from previous wars and is often worn as a symbol of support for veterans so it is the key subject of the painting. The French advertisements in the background are from the 1950's and symbolize the marketing of consumer goods that are supposed to be part of a good life; alcohol, chocolates, fine watches, and beauty creams. Do these things help with the art of living?
Honorable Mention - Pat Waughtal
“In the Stillness”
Matt Adams: This composition is an excellent case study in the “negative space vs. neglected space” conversation. The large area of ’nothing’ is NOT neglected by the artist whatsoever, it is very purposeful and intelligently rendered negative space. And now that we are pulled into the picture, our eyes are very satisfied wandering around to the other areas of the composition. We can continue our conversation about the use of edges here where the artist has broken only part of an edge - a nice touch of tension. Finally, the presentation is outstanding.
Pat Waughtal: “IN THE STILLNESS” evolved from a failed painting of a seascape that was a cross between Impressionistic and abstract. I didn’t like the result so I started painting over it and rubbing out many times. I used brushes, palette knives, paper towels and my fingers. Eventually an ethereal look began to appear which I enhanced with soft yellows and peach in the sky. I always liked the foreground but I added a more textured look with acrylic ink and let it run and drip.
My biggest challenge was the framing. The painting is on gessoed Arches 140lb. paper. I wanted to use a drop in frame that I had bought at Michaels that turned out not to be a true 16'x20” frame. I cut gatorboard to size and glued the watercolor paper to the board with matte medium. Screws would not hold the gatorboard in place so I ended up using adhesive backed velcro strips to hold it in place. I was glad that Matt said the frame was perfect for the piece because it had caused me to do a lot of problem solving.