Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Summertime in the Swamp…

By F. Lennox Campello

…is often not a pleasant time for many, but for art lovers it is a perfect opportunity to go visit some local art galleries and support your area artists.

If you also want to stroll around the very pleasant areas of Kensington, I want to give a plug to the Montgomery Art Association (MAA) 2022 Paint the Town (PTT) Art Show on Labor Day weekend.

I will be jurying this very popular exhibition — attended by over 3,000 visitors each year — MAA is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization that serves artists in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. The event is co-hosted by the City of Kensington, MD, and takes place in the Kensington Armory.

PTT features about 500 non-juried works in eight judged categories, plus a separate plein air competition with about 50 pieces. Judging of the main show takes place from 1 p.m. to approximately 4 p.m. on Friday, September 2. On Saturday, September 3, judging of the plein air show begins at 3 p.m.

The Paint the Town Labor Day Show is one of the region’s largest and longest-running art shows composed of all local artists. The show will be open to the public Saturday-Monday, September 3-5 PM. I will be on site on Friday, September 2 for closed-door judging and Saturday, September 3 to judge the plein air competition and present awards.

An easy way to spend most of a summer rainy afternoon is a visit to the Torpedo Factory, host to many art studios and some key galleries. While you’re there, go check out the current Open Exhibit, juried by artist Jessie Boyland.

According to the Art League’s press release, Boyland “is a painter and has a BFA from VCU School of the Art, Painting and Printmaking. Jessie plans and curates all the exhibits at Art Works. She arranges for the Thriving Artist Exchange workshops engaging talented and knowledgeable speakers and demos.”

For the show awards, the juror gave the Art League Award for Best in Show to Wendy Donahoe for “Traveler”, and Honorable Mentions to Mary Elizabeth Gosselink “Twister”, Cindy Grisdela “Color Grid”, Hyesuk Kong “In City”, Craig Nedrow “At the Classic Car Show”, Susan O’Neill “Transposition”, and Beverly Ryan “Starlet.”

Congrats to ALL the awardees – having been the juror for these shows several times in the past, I know how difficult the process is and how tough the competition!

If you’re a constant reader of this column, then you know what comes next: The Campello awards!

Are you ready for a shock? I believe that for the first time since I’ve been messing around with re-jurying other jurors’ shows and awards (first time was around 1981), this is the FIRST time that I’ve agreed with the Best of Show!

Wendy Donahoe’s “Traveler”, a spectacular charcoal and carbon pencil drawing, is not only a superbly crafted technical masterpiece, but also a work that does something that a master like Donahoe does so simply: in this case capture the psychologic presence of the subject.  She nails it and do not be fooled by the simplicity of my words in describing her accomplishment with this piece. These are finely tuned and trained artistic muscles which Donahoe flexes so easily in this work and which are in reality impossibly difficult to deliver.

I also quite liked some of the Honorable Mentions, especially “Transposition” by Susan O’Neill, an elegant figure study employing charcoal, red chalk, and mixed media on paper.

Personally I would have given an award to “Art Lovers 1 – Picasso – Le Gourmet 0” by Leni Gurin, a very elegant Acrylic and a take off on the great Spanish master.

I started this month’s article by mentioning plein air painting – there are some exceptional works from that genre in this show, works such as “Anticipating Hope” by Suzanne Yurdin, “A lake in the Berkshires” by Karen Thuermer, “Wetland Series (abstract landscape)” by Parisa Tirnaz (which has a weird perspective that I find interesting), “From the Isle of Wight” by Barbara Stepura, and “Along the Shore” by Ginya Truitt Nakata.

Deal of the show? At 14 × 78 × 11 inches, the earlier referenced painting by Leni Gurin is a steal at $900! Go buy it!

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