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Open Exhibit - August 2017

August 2017 Open Exhibit
August 8 – September 3, 2017
Juror: Stephanie Midon
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 10, 6:30–8:00 pm

Rouge Retro by M.M. Panas

Juror's Dialogue with Haven Ashley

As the Curatorial Assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, juror Stephanie Midon has become quite an expert at assessing a large body of work for its exhibition potential. “The quality of the artworks and the skill level of the artists was impressive—a testament to The [Art League School’s] faculty, their students, and members overall,” Midon remarked when reflecting on her Art League jury experience. When asked if a particular medium stood out to her, she responded that many drawings—from ink to charcoal—and watercolors, demonstrated a technical mastery. Even though the exhibit was unthemed, Midon noticed that images of flora and fauna were popular among submitters, from delicate flower studies to bold abstract landscapes. Interestingly, there were multiple images of seashells this month—three of which were selected for exhibition.

Under her seasoned eye, patterns within the artworks began to emerge, linked by similarities in color and line. Although artists could submit artworks created during the past decade, it seemed that there was one particular, of-the-moment topic that kept surfacing. “Globalism,” according to Midon, “appears to be on the minds of many artists, given the multitude of images being captured or imagined both here and outside of the United States.”

This month, ten artworks bear The Art League’s coveted golden seal: eight for honorable mentions, one for the Dee Gee Watling Award for Best Pastel, and one for the Shayna Heisman Simkin Award for Best in Show. When asked what qualities made Rouge Retro by M.M. Panas the winner of the best in show award, Midon enthused that she “realized right away it was one of the strongest pieces” among hundreds of entries. Although the painting is monochromatic, it is visually intriguing, with dynamic variation in line, “powerful, striking color” and a clever manipulation of mixed media which results in an “engaging textural effect.” Far Away, Deron DeCesare’s award winning pastel, stood out to Midon for the unique handling of color—especially the unexpected addition of blue tones to the model’s skin.

For Midon, presentation was critical. The framing or finish “helps to communicate the quality of the piece.” Besides functioning as a conceptual demarcation of where an artwork begins and ends, framing can be also an extension of the piece, and “shouldn’t be an afterthought.” Considering that all entries needed to be installation ready, Midon remarked that poor framing or presentation did not go unnoticed.

We asked Midon to imagine that if this exhibit did in fact have a theme, what would it be? “Community” she quickly responded, noting that each artwork is a reflection of an idea that resonates personally with its creator. “Subject-wise the artworks may be unrelated, but conceptually they are an [intimate] piece of each artist.” The resulting exhibit is just as varied and colorful as the artists who submitted, with subjects ranging from cityscapes to frosted cakes. They are all, in essence, self portraits of The Art League’s diverse community.

Far Away by Deron DeCesare

View the exhibit online
HERE and the program HERE!

About the Juror: Stephanie Midon
Stephanie Midon is the Curatorial Assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Since 2012, she has curated exhibitions on a broad variety of women artists, from 17th & 18th century silver craft, to 19th century printmaking, to contemporary art. Her latest exhibitions include Esther Bubley Up Front (2015), Alison Saar In Print (2016), and Chromatic Scale: Prints by Polly Apfelbaum (2017). 

Midon holds an M.A. in Art History & Museum Studies and a B.A. in Art History from Georgetown University, and holds a certificate in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. Previously, she has worked at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Phillips Collection, and Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers.

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