Gallery Conversations, February 2023 Exhibit: Fire and Ice

February 17, 2023 2:47 PM | Nancy Moody

by Cissy Geigerman, WAS-H Gallery Co-DIrector

For our theme this month we chose a variation to the usual Valentine’s Day motifs.  Of course this can be a time of sweet sentiments, but also we may feel a need to be a bit dramatic.  The paintings in this exhibit rise to the challenge with flair, literally!  There are many examples of the colorful contrasts between fire and ice as well as expressive works.  Much appreciation goes to our volunteers Leisa Patin, Paula Fowler, Mansueto Fabugais, Patty Armstrong, Laura Mossman and Reese Geigerman for creating a great display.

Our judgewas Dena M. Woodall, PhD. Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She oversees a varied collection of drawings, watercolors, prints, artists’ books, and print matrices created between the 12th-21st centuries from around the world. Dena earned her Ph.D. in art history from Case Western Reserve University. Prior to joining the MFAH in 2008, Dr. Woodall served as fellow in the prints & drawings department at the Cleveland Museum of Art and research associate at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  She is currently working on an exhibition and catalogue of the Stuart Collection, dedicated to British drawings and watercolors from the 18th and 19th centuries. She is an affiliated professor in art history at Rice University. Dena has been a member of the Print Council of America since 2012. In the last few years, she has assisted with editing the PCA Newsletter. 

Dr. Woodall enjoyed reviewing our entries and was very meticulous about her selections.  She would like to encourage our members to visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and particularly remember that many paintings and works may not be on display but are available to view upon request. 

First Place: Nan Wright “Winter AM”

DW: The artist has expressed a strong sense of place in this watercolor with intensity and emotionalism and it has a commanding presence.  It is accomplished in its brilliant use of color, varied line work to indicate plant life, and response to cold and heat.  The artist has deftly achieved reflections and there is a good use of textured paper.

NW: Snow…I love it!  Also snowshoeing, sledding, forest path walks, and downhill skiing.  A “fun fact”, before COVID, I was certified to teach the blind to ski in a national disabled sports program.  I love the quiet flakes drifting down in the moonlight, the energy of a ferocious snowstorm, and obviously the way the morning sun nudges the world awake.  Snow is one of my favorite things to paint.  It’s not merely leaving the original paper unpainted, it’s the subtle shifts of cool violet shadows and warm glows on nature’s white canvas.  I’m honored to have been chosen for the prize.  Thanks so much!

Cissy Geigerman: I must add my own comment here, Paint what you love! Here is another example of an artist’s ability to convey what is heartfelt.

Second Place: Fontaine Jacobs “Smoking Stogie”

DW: I probably shouldn’t encourage smoking, but I was captured by this scene with its restrained color palette to portray a particular moment.  It has strong draftsmanship.  Also, one gets an impression of the weight of the glass, the coldness of the ice, and the wafting smoke in the air.  There is also an excellent sense of depth.  

FJ: I love working with yupo.  I decided to use a monochrome palette because with this subject, I needed to do some manipulations and extra colors can easily get muddled with yupo.  This paper is fun if you stick with it.

Third Place: Jackie Liddell “Opposites Attract”

DW: The theme is almost exact in this image. It is a good close up view capturing the movement of the flames and reflections in both the ice and the fire.  The staccato mark making is also worth noting.  

JL: The inspiration for this painting came to me as I was sitting near our outdoor fireplace with the flames turned up.  I saw phoenixes, and dragons!  The wine may have helped.  As for the title, I must say that my husband and I have been together since high school and are definitely opposites, still attracted.  

Honorable Mention: Erik Sprohge “Fire and Ice”

DW: This abstracted composition evokes an aura of greatness or monumentality with its upward thrust.  It has a good gradation from cool to warm colors.  

ES: I had an existing watercolor that was close to the theme but not quite.  I decided to paint over the whole thing with acrylics, I hoped this would be “legal”.  What to name it?  “Fire and Ice” seemed the only way to go!

Honorable Mention: Irene Sheytman “Lake Bled”

DW: This work seems to aspire to the landscape paintings of the German Romantic Caspar David Friedrich.  It seeks contemplation of nature in the presence of structures made by humans and the dramatic sky encourages it.  It has a believable sense of space and there is an interesting play of color in the icy waters, the sky, the rocky mountain and the theme is carried out in the hues of the two buildings.

IS: I do like painting architecture and tried to incorporate some into the theme.  I imagined wintertime mountains with castles on top and icy waters below, creating a dramatic sky to complete the mood.

Honorable Mention: Mary Klug “Tuskawanta Waits”

DW: I appreciate the defining elements of the composition from foreground, to middle ground, to background.  The play of light and shadow has a desired outcome over the snow and I think it is always good to utilize the exposed, bare paper.  

MK: This is a painting of Lake Ronkonkoma on Long Island, NY. Legend has it that every year, the Indian Princess claims the life of one male in search of her true love. (I've lived there for 32 years, and just about every year, a young man has drowned in this spring fed lake.) So it seemed appropo that Princess Tuskawanta would be anxiously awaiting the Spring thaw on this early morning in late winter, when I took this photo. 

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