|David's "Napoleon Crossing the Alps"|
|Jeffrey Larson's "Electrolux"|
Jeff's first introduction to the 134 works he had chosen for this year's show (from a field of 633) came when he and Heidi walked into a gallery overflowing with artwork. Paintings hung in a haphazard fashion on the walls; some were on the floor leaning. Despite the chaos, a smile broke out across his face as he saw the artwork he'd previously viewed in 3x3 thumbnail photos online. He was happy with his selections. "Every work," he said, "Has something, a little spark."
|Anna Bain "Self-Portrait in the Studio"|
He turned Anna Bain's "Self-Portrait in the Studio" upside down to look at the composition. (I'd seen this trick before in a critique session, but it's always striking. It was funny when someone came into the gallery and said, "Well, I guess that work's out of the running." Au contraire.) He loved the work's balance and the way all lines led to the artist's face. The work received Second Prize in the show.
|Dominic Avant "Pizzicatto"|
He talked about his characterization of Dominic Avant's "Pizzicatto" as a genre piece rather than a portrait. Knowing that Dominic's 14-year old son had sat for this painting, I was curious about the difference. In a portrait, he said, your focus is on the individual. Who are they? What are they thinking? In a genre work, the focus is on the setting, the activity. The motion of the cellist's hand as he plucks the strings draws the viewer's eye rather than his face. The work received Third Prize in the show.
|Bill Farnsworth "On the Line"|
Bill Farnsworth's "On the Line," which won Best of Show, captured Jeff's attention because of the way the artist created different points in the painting that draw the viewer's eye in. Some paintings, though skillful, lead your eye off the canvas and onto the next work. Farnsworth's dollops of light and the sense of movement from the waves force the viewer's eye to keep circling around and considering the work. It's a manipulative artistic technique that an uneducated viewer (like me) might not even realize is happening.
|James Wolford's "Friendship House"|
The National Art Exhibition will be on display at the Visual Arts Center through March 12. If you're in the area, it's a show worth seeking out -- even if you don't have the benefit of Jeff Larson's commentary along the way. And for a bit more insight into the show, check out Nancy Stetson's article in Florida Weekly: A Good Year for Art.