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All-Media - May 2013

All-Media Membership Exhibit
A juried exhibit featuring works of all media and subject matter by Art League members.
May 8–June 3, 2013

Opening reception: Thursday, May 9, 6:30-8:00 pm

View the list of accepted work here.
here to view this exhibit on our Flickr feed.

Leigh Culver watercolor
Picnic Treasure by Leigh Culver won the Amelia T. Clemente Family Award for Best in Show.

Juried by Lauren Dickens
Juror’s dialogue with George Miller

For artists wondering how their work would be received during the jurying process for May’s all-media show, juror Lauren Dickens said it had more to do with them, and their personal artistic vision, than with her: “You can’t try to appeal to the juror.”

Dickens, assistant curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, acted as a juror and not a curator for the first time in selecting this work. As opposed to curating, which is a long process of getting to know artists and visiting their studios, the jurying process intentionally limits the information (and compresses time) so that Dickens needed to judge the work “purely aesthetically.”

In those circumstances, Dickens said, when a juror doesn’t know an artist or what their typical work is like, artists were best served by conveying an individual vision, creating work that tells something about them and their way of looking at the world. Since a work can’t appeal to everyone, it should be bold and personal, Dickens said: “Art is not one size fits all.” She pointed to Julie, a mixed-media sculpture by Eric Vahouny, as an example of a bold approach.

Unfamiliar imagery, well-executed concepts, strong compositions, expert use of color, and technical skill also contributed to successful works, Dickens said.

In contrast, Dickens said she was not interested in purely decorative art. Some abstract pieces also fell short: successful abstraction requires skill with composition and color, she said.

Artists submitting two works should strike a balance between the extremes of two pieces that are too similar and two that are wildly different (for example, in unrelated media and dealing with unrelated subject matter). Especially in a blind juried show, the juror needs context to make decisions, and two pieces showing variety and continuity are the most helpful, Dickens advised.

As a contemporary art curator, Dickens saw more works in traditional media at The Art League than usual. She said she loves sculpture, and while it’s logistically difficult in this gallery space, she would love to see more. More use of conceptually-grounded experimental media, like the handmade bark paper in Gerry Lee Wertheimer’s The Tree House, would also be welcome, she said.

“I love the resurgence of craft in contemporary art,” Dickens said, citing the camphor burl wood sculpture Half-Dome by Glenn Mayerschoff as an example of an artist using traditional materials and contemporary forms.

Regarding presentation, Dickens said at least one work was not selected due to a distracting choice of frame. Framing should be very simple unless it’s integral to the execution of the work, she said, echoing past jurors’ sentiments.

Dickens said she surprised herself by selecting three still life paintings for the awards. The Amelia T. Clemente Family Award for Best in Show went to Picnic Treasure, a watercolor by Leigh Culver.

“In some ways it’s very traditional, but the use of color is amazing and the off-kilter composition is kind of unexpected,” Dickens said.

Second and third place awards went to two oil paintings of flowers, both well painted but in totally different styles — one, Thomas Gift by Susan O’Neill, recalling the Dutch masters, and the other, Cherry Blossoms by Paul Zapatka, more like Matisse. Both pieces won because of the artists’ skill, Dickens said.

Lauren Schell Dickens is assistant curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.  She previously managed a photography gallery in San Francisco, and held curatorial posts at the Jewish Museum in New York, the Guggenheim Museum, and Dallas Museum of Art.  At the Corcoran, she organized the recent collection exhibitions Roots and Links: Gifts from the Women’s Committee of the Corcoran (2013) and How is the World? Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Photography (2013).  Earlier projects include organizing The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River Peter by Peter Forgacs and the Labyrinth Project (2009), and assisting with Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention (2009-10), both at the Jewish Museum.  She has independently curated exhibitions in New York and Oakland, California. Dickens holds a BA in American Studies from Yale University and an MA in Modern Art: Critical Studies from Columbia University.

Award: Amelia T. Clemente Family Award for Best in Show, $500. Daniel Clemente established the Amelia T. Clemente Family Award. The entire Clemente family have been long-time supporters of both The Art League Gallery and School.



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