Saturday, February 8, 2014

And the Winners Are.....

First Federal Gallery at the Visual Arts Center was standing room only last Thursday night as the winners in the National Art Exhibition were announced.  The winners had been told the week before that their works had been awarded a prize, but they had not been informed exactly what that prize was. With 16 prizes in all, carrying cash awards ranging from $100 for a Judge's Recognition Award to $2000 for Best of Show, the artists were particularly eager to find out the results.  It was a fun night, with lots of "oohs" and "aahs" from the audience as pictures of the winning works were flashed onto the big screen. 

"Her Favorite Hat" by Hodges Soileau
Best of Show was awarded to "Her Favorite Hat" by Hodges Soileau. Juror Carl Samson provided commentary about each of the winning works, and he said of Hodges' painting:  "Enchanted with this one.  Extraordinarily subtle technique.    Lovely design.  Beautiful drawing.  Varied texture handled extremely well."   In last year's National Faces and Figures exhibition, Hodges won second prize for his work "The Red Pillow."  Interestingly, when I showed Hodges where his painting had been hung -- right outside the door to the administrative offices -- he said, "That's where my painting was last year."  For the record, the hanging committee is not privy to prize winners when they figure out the difficult task of how to display the show. 

"Hesitant" by Dominic Avant
Second Prize was awarded to Dominic Avant for "Hesitant."    The juror said of this work:  "Expert handling of dappled sunlight.   Figures are well drawn and articulated.  Trees are wonderfully designed and specific.  Overall light effect is spot on."   Avant is also a fixture in the winners' circle at the VAC.  He was awarded third prize in last year's Faces and Figures show for "Listen," a painting of his older son whispering into the ear of a horse.  This year's work shows both of his sons venturing into the water.  Dominic shared that his older son is about at the age where he wants to get out of the modeling business.  With the success he is having using him as a model, he might want to up his allowance!

"The Turban" by Sharon Hutson
Third Prize went to a newcomer to the scene -- Sharon Hutson for "The Turban."  The show was only the second that Sharon has entered, and she was thrilled.  Sharon shared that she generally has used family members, who are of Danish descent, as the models for her work.  She wanted to try something different, and ended up with this Middle Eastern gentleman and his amazing textiles.  The juror said of this work:  A sensuous feast of color, pattern, and subtle handling.  Nice breadth of treatment with great "wall power."

I will end the way the evening started.  The Visual Arts Center is keen to promote the ways that various art forms work in tandem.  Dorothy Brooks is a local poet whose work includes the book "A Fine Dusting of Brightness."  We asked Dorothy if she would pen a poem after she viewed the show.  Her reading of "Other Voices" kicked off the reception.  I'm sure that you will enjoy it as much as we did.  

(Overheard at opening: “I imagine every painting
has a story.”)

OTHER VOICES by Dorothy Brooks

Come. Enter the deep, deep silence
of this space. Be still. Listen.

You who spend your days
in shadow, unable to truly see

a rose or morning dew, who hear
always the noise outside: televisions,

cell phones, the constant chatter—
step into this silence

around the edges of the picture frames.
Let it surround you. Dwell in it.

Soon you will begin to hear
other voices calling to you:

The solitary artist in her studio,
the painter in his loft,

they are speaking, oh, so quietly.
Can you hear a whisper,

a cry, perhaps a song?
They are speaking, not in words

but in color, in line, in texture.
Speaking of love and loss,

of loneliness, of joy. Giving you
waves breaking on rocks,

a path through the woods,
water lilies. Saying,

come out of the shadow.
Come into the silence.

The artist is speaking:
Here is your world.



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