September 2011 All-Media Exhibit
Juried by Dr. Barbara Wolanin
September 7 - October 3, 2011
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 8, 6:30 - 8:00 pm. Awards presented at 7:30 pm.
Birth of Rhythm by Michael Spears. Winner of the 2011 Shayna Heisman Simkin Award.
Juror’s Dialogue with Erica Fortwengler
Art historian, critic, and curator Dr. Barbara Wolanin had previously juried for The Art League and frequented the Gallery before she stepped through our doors to jury the September 2011 All-Media Exhibit. She noted that she expected carefully look at a large number of works spanning a variety of subjects, styles, and levels, and that viewing 550 works of art in a short period of time would be quite a task.
“I considered each work within the context of what the artist was trying to achieve, from photorealism to pure abstract brush strokes, and judged whether or not the artist had succeeded in achieving their goal.” She also gauged success by how a piece was able to capture and hold her attention, primarily through use of color, composition, the play between light and dark, or the choice of subject.
Wolanin looked for technical competence and mastery within the artists’ chosen medium. She was often attracted to a piece because of its subject matter, but noted that an emotional impact achieved through abstraction can be equally powerful. Wolanin commented that she was struck by the repetitiousness of much of the subject matter, even though they are subjects she personally enjoys, such as rural landscapes, seascapes, and still lifes. Within those subjects she looked for a convincing sense of light, form, and space.
“It appeared that some of the works submitted were by students who are still learning their craft. I respect them for putting themselves out there and entering! Sometimes the two works by one artist were so different that it was clear that the individual had yet to find his or her voice.” She noted that many of the unselected works were of equivalent quality to those pieces hanging in the show, but space constraints precluded her from including them in the exhibit.
“Selecting the award winners was the most difficult part of the process. I felt that everything I selected was a winner for one reason or another. Ultimately, I gave awards to pieces that were personal favorites while highlighting different media and styles.”
“I commend The Art League for its efficient system of gathering and showing hundreds of pieces to the juror – it really is a team effort. It’s hard to believe that you do this every month.”
Wolanin holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and master’s degrees from Oberlin College and Harvard University. She majored in Studio Art at Oberlin College. She was an assistant professor of art history at James Madison University and Trinity College (now University), Washington, DC. Since 1985, she has been a curator in the federal government, overseeing art conservation, preservation, and research. She has published exhibition catalogues, articles, and reviews in Art in America and elsewhere, and a book on a nineteenth-century mural artist. Wolanin is an expert on the Philadelphia modernist Arthur B. Carles and authored exhibition catalogs on him and his students, including an upcoming one at The Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia on Mary G.L. Hood that opens at the end of the month. She serves on the national boards of the Women’s’ Caucus for Art and the James Renwick Alliance.
Awards: The Shayna Heisman Simkin Award, $125. This award honors the memory of former Art League artist Shayna Heisman Simkin. Her art career spanned more than fifty years, 22 as a member of The Art League. This award is given to piece deemed "best in show" by the juror.