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'Scapes - Aug 2009

August 2009

'Scapes – Annual Landscape Exhibit

All-Media Membership Show
August 5 – September 7, 2009

 



Award(s):  The Ross Merrill Award, The Potomac Valley Watercolorists Award, the Second Place Award, and Honorable Mention Awards.

Show Info: Opening Reception, Thursday, August 13, 6:30–8:00 pm, in the gallery.  Awards presented at 7:00 pm.


653 entered, 160 accepted

Juror's Statement:

with Erica Fortwengler

 

In the waning weeks of summer, we remember the pleasures of the outdoors while we still can, before cooler weather and the responsibilities of autumn fall upon us again. So this seems a fitting time to celebrate the landscape in art, remarked Nora Heimann after she completed jurying The Art League’s annual Scapes exhibit in late July. This year’s "Scapes" offers a luscious celebration of the external world as we wish it to be – a place of eternal beauty and abundant respite. Its simple title amplifies the relationship between this theme and every escapist fantasy. In both, Heimann observed, our creative imagination transforms a mundane and untidy world into a vivid, if wholly ephemeral, idyll. 

 

Idyllic, pastoral landscape is one of the most venerable subjects in art. It has inspired everything from Virgil’s erotic eclogues and the voluptuous reveries of Watteau to Poussin’s allegorical Arcadian shepherds and Christo’s sensuous site-specific sculptures. Yet as traditional as this theme may be, it remains enduringly current, especially now that green has become the new black. 

 

In jurying the 2009 "Scapes," Heimann looked for work that was graphically strong, and that was rendered with skill and effort. When asked if by "skill" Heimann also meant confidence and decisiveness in execution, she responded by musing that a work’s strength paradoxically can sometimes be found in its authentic anxiety and seeming lack of confidence. As an example, she cited the late landscapes of Paul Cézanne. In his seminal portraits of Mont Sainte-Victoire from the 1880s and after, Heimann explained, the artist’s shifting, seemingly uncertain perspective transforms the massive mountain that dominates the horizon of Aix into a mobile, dynamic presence. Picasso, she noted, put it best when he observed that Cézanne’s enduring "lesson" was simply his "anxiety." But she added the caveat that an artist’s confident hand can also create images of spare elegance. As evidence, she cited the seemingly spontaneous manner with which Matisse rendered many of his most powerful forms. The beauty of Matisse’s "Joy of Life," she observed, lies not only in its brilliant color, but also in the masterful brevity of his brush work. Thus the key to success in both Cézanne’s and Matisse’s landscapes lies in the thought and care with which they were made. 

 

In defining the rubric of landscape, Heimann sought to be generous. Yet she found that this year’s exhibition entries were predominantly straightforward in both subject and form. She also noted that almost all of the entries were very attractive, but few required an emotional response from the viewer beyond an appreciation of visual beauty. She had hoped to find more conceptual and narrative elements explored with this theme. And she noted that after judging hundreds of sublime vistas and countless picturesque vacation sites, often illuminated by cool purple shadows against the warmth of a setting sun, it came as a breath of fresh air to see a burning car or a graffiti scarred building in the harsh light of day or in the dark of night. 

 

Taken in sum, Heimann praised the strength of the works submitted; and she noted the particular quality of the pastels that were entered. For the future, she expressed the hope that League members might consider exploring time-based or kinetic media, taking risks with materials and exploring new formats to produce innovative and interesting new approaches to landscape. A tiny piece – or set of pieces, she observed, can draw the viewer in just as powerfully as a massive work can envelop the viewer with color and form. 

 

Above all, Heimann praised the strong craftsmanship and visual acuity of the successful entries. She was particularly pleased to find a diversity of expression and a rich variety of media among this year’s best works. She selected “A Footbridge on PEI” by Drew Parris as the best in show, recipient of the Ross Merrill Award. “Waters Edge II, Croatia” by Gwen Bragg received the Potomac Valley Watercolorists Award. 

 

Heimann is Associate Professor of art history and the Chair of the Art Department at The Catholic University of America. Her publications include a book, Joan of Arc in French Art and Culture (1700-1855): From Satire to Sanctity (Ashgate, 2005), an article, a catalog essay, and a book chapter on Joan of Arc's iconographic fortunes through time on both sides of the Atlantic. She has curated exhibitions on contemporary art and rare book illustration. Her special interest is in the relationship between art, politics, gender, identity, and religion. She holds an A.B. with honors from Harvard University; an M.A. from Williams College; and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.


Sample Work:

 

         

         

         


To view all of the images from the show, please click here.

 

 

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