Sunday, October 7, 2012

Notes on the Signature Artist Exhibition

Notes on the Signature Artist Exhibition at Noyes Museum’s 2012 Fall Season Opening
If you respond to rustic autumn settings, good art, and a bit of an adventure, I highly recommend you find your way to the Noyes Museum of Art in the next few weeks. October 5th was their Fall Season Opening Reception, and at the request of my friend and fellow exhibitor Laura Perovich-Cheney, I put together some impression of the Signature Artist exhibition, as well as some brief comments on the other museum exhibitions currently on display.
 The Signature Artist Exhibition is held each year in the fall. Noyes’ Exhibition Director Dorrie Papademetriou reviews digital files of artwork submitted from the museum’s Signature Artists and selects pieces for inclusion in the exhibition.  This year’s selections overall were strong and held together well as an exhibition, as clearly illustrated at first glance of the exhibition’s feature wall.  Here the works of (left to right) ShellyWentz Evens (Really Red), LauraPetrovich-Cheney (Barn Razing) and MichaelWaters (Ritual), are displayed and invite both an intimate examination of surface detail (from Wentz-Evan’s mixed media, Waters’ acrylic impasto and Petrovich-Cheney’s boat, barn and fence salvaged wood) as well as an esthetically pleasing balance of design and color when viewed from a distance.
While the pool of artistic style and approach is fairly wide among the Noyes signature artists, Papademetriou’s selections unify seemingly disparate works of abstraction, various levels of representation, craft and sculpture, into a unified and visually engaging display. The artworks all share a focus on use of dense and highly saturated colors, strong geometric compositions, high craft and attention to surface detail.  Witnessing gallery visitors leaning in very close to scrutinize surfaces, and even daring to cross the sacred threshold of the museum “no touch” taboo, gave clear evidence of the highly sensual and seductive nature inherent to many of the pieces on display. Some examples include (in order of appearance here): detail of Frank Kallop’s Reservoir (acrylic, oil and plaster on wood panel); Rhoda Yanow’s Promenade (pastel), Joanie San Chirico’s Bloom #3 Detail (acrylic and hand stitching on canvas); and detail of my own piece, Riding the Wave (acrylic paint, cast plastic shapes), as well as Skeff Thomas’ stoneware piece and Andy DiPietro’s wood vessels (no image).

Visual delight was in no short supply at this year’s Signature Artist exhibition. KimWeiland’s Low Country Sunrise, was popular among viewers. In the gallery game of “which painting would you buy, which would you burn, and which would you live in” Weiland’s work was the hands-down winner for imaginary residence (I made up the game years ago to give friends that I had dragged to exhibitions something to do). 
The theme of density in foreground and composition was also followed through with a whimsical twist in Bette Blank’s egg tempera painting How to Catch a Blue Crab. 
With the qualifying statement that I have been accused of being very accepting in my range of artistic preference (confession: once at a Small Works show I did mistake the temperature thermostat on the wall for art), I enjoyed all of the selections in this dynamic grouping of art. There were also a few mysteries, such as Amy Evans Unspoken Dialogue, that used flatbed scanning, surface spraying and waxing to create a marvelously deep and rich surface.
I came with a group of friends to the opening (and yes, they played the game) and the near unanimous decision on what they would like to take home with them was Louis Riccio’s highly skilled watercolor, Spotted Owl.
While focused primarily on the Signature Artist Exhibition, I cannot fail to mention what was going on in the other three gallery exhibitions—each was incredible and unique. Dendrology: the Art of Trees, will intrigue you in its exploration of trees as a source for artistic inspiration, organic beauty and profound symbolism.  You’ll have the fun of walking through a paper cut forest (artist Pat Brentano). “It’s like being part of a canopy’s shadow” one viewer, immersed in the center of this installation, commented.
I was deeply moved by the gorgeous and exacting work of Julie Anne Mann—the painting seen here is a study of roots done in silver leaf on highly polished mahogany.
Finding Home: Seth Camm, Giving Voice to the Homeless Through Art, could have been a mawkish, sentimental and maudlin mess, but instead it was compelling, sophisticated and provocative in many ways. This partnership of social work and art is a great example of the synergy created where the final product is greater than the sum of its parts. People I observed viewed the artwork and the accompanying life stories with great reverence--the gallery was packed with viewers, yet as silent as a church during mass.

Feast for the Eyes: the Art of Food—was an delicious compilation of artists who have set their sights on food as juicy subject matter, from classic still lives to  sculptures and scientific illustrations, this show offers a veritable banquet for the eye (sorry, I could not resist the puns).
And lastly, the event itself needs mention. Not only was their art on walls, pedestals and elsewhere, it was delightfully evident in the guests themselves—as seen here in Kathy Tannahill’s “Out for an Opening” hat.
So, go! You have until Thanksgiving to catch all four shows—mark your calendar now, and be sure to check out some of the local places to eat—we ate that night at the Oyster Creek Restaurant and Boat Bar which was an unexpected goldmine of perfectly prepared seafood ( or try the Athenian Garden for some classic Greek food). Have fun.

Lou Storey, 10/6/12

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