Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Out of the Studio and Into the Universe

By F. Lennox Campello

Some artists create artwork as a very personal exercise to which they become very attached; others create artwork simply as a commodity and to sell it and make money – most good artists create artwork as a combination of both.

If you are an artist, chances are that you’d be interested in expanding the circle of places where your art is owned and displayed.  One of my maxims has always been that the worse place for a piece of artwork is in the artist’s studio or home. It is created so that as many people a possible can enjoy it, see it, etc.  That’s usually in some other folks’ walls!

Some artists love to work in a solitary setting, while many others look to congregate and become part of a group such as an artists’ group, league, cooperative, etc.  There are many such groups and organizations in our area, such as the Art League in Alexandria, the League of Reston Artists, the Fairfax Art League and others… and cooperatives such as Multiple Exposures Gallery, Touchstone Gallery, etc.

One such group in our DMV area is the Montgomery Art Association (MAA) in Montgomery County, Maryland. The MAA is not active as an artists’ organization but also seeks innovative ways to expose their members’ artwork.

One such novel way was started about five years ago, in which MAA partners with the city of Kensington to stay a city-wide plein air painting event which stages dozens of artists throughout the picturesque DMV suburban town as well as a juried art show for its members staged at the city’s former Armory building. The three-day event, held during Labor Day weekend is called the “Paint the Town Labor Day Show & Sale.”

I was recently honored to be the juror for the 2022 version of this show, and was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the entries, both for the plein air entries as well as the other designated categories (abstract, landscape, etc.).  I was also delighted to see the exceptional large amount of work which sold.

For me it is always an honor when someone parts from their hard-earned money just to acquire a piece of art which will hang on their walls and offer visual pleasure for years (and hopefully) generations to come.

This was very hard work. Why? Because as all great shows are, this was an immensely difficult show to judge, which is a good thing! The quality of entries was uniformly superior in almost every category, and the difference between first, second, third, and even some honorable mentions was minimal. The Portrait category in particular was tough to judge as there were so many really outstanding entries. And I was especially surprised by the Kensington category – there was not a single bad entry! As always, I was honored to be able to judge and comment on work of my fellow artists.

The Best in Show selected by me was a spectacular Trompe L’oeil painting titled Historia Est Magistra Vitae, by artist Dora Patin in the Kensington category.  Later on, when I met the artist (and her teacher, the great Glen Kessler – the Founder and Director of The Compass Atelier, not the other guy) I was astounded to discover that (a) she had only been painting for only five years, and (b) and she created the gorgeous work in about three weeks!  Patin is clearly a gifted painter and I cannot wait to see where she goes next.

First Prize in the portrait category was I Will Conquer by Isabella Martire.  What Martire does with this work is that subtle “thing” that only great portrait artists can deliver: the ability to not just capture the likeness of the subject, but also to transmit a psychological insight into them. She does that superbly in this work!

First Prize in the Still Life Category was a riot of color titled Veri Peri Macaron by Jennifer Barlow. Here the artist skillfully fools us into seeing some delicious macarons when in fact she’s flexing some enviable artistic musculature to showcase her mastery of color.

First Prize in the Abstract Category was awarded to Metamorphosis by Sandra Pérez-Ramos. Here the artist toys with our visual interpretation of her painting.  The technical definition of abstract art is essentially any kind of art that does not attempt in any form to represent any sort of recognizable external reality (which is what representational art does), but instead achieve its artistic effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures. Pérez-Ramos not only does that, but also entangles our visual senses by tempting up into trying to recognize the maternal virus thing that she has depicted – or is it a macabre being from another dimension?

Sarah Clayton Davis won the Landscape category with a sophisticated painting of a cloud formation above a body of water – simple but effective in that it allowed her to reflect the water on the bottom of the cloud, while Peijisan Art won the Sculpture category with an intelligent work titled Patchwork of Promise.

As all great shows are, this one left me happy and inspired!

About the Author: Since 2003… the 11th highest ranked art blog on the planet! And with over SIX million visitors, F. Lennox Campello’s art news, information, gallery openings, commentary, criticism, happenings, opportunities, and everything associated with the global visual arts scene with a special focus on the Greater Washington, DC area.

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