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Small & Large Works - Nov. 2014

Small Works & Large Works installation view


“Small Works” and “Large Works”
November 5–December 1, 2014

Large Works: program | view images on Flickr
Small Works: program | view images on Flickr

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 13, 6:30-8:00 pm

Juror: James Farrah

These annual all-media exhibits are popular for holiday shopping. Work is restricted in size, but not subject matter. This year's juror is James Farrah.


Award winners from Small Works and Large Works

Clockwise from right: Bella by Jordan Xu, Vitamins 6 by Amy Ordoveza, and Daydreams by Wendy Donahoe were recognized with awards by the juror. 


Juried by James Farrah
Juror's dialogue with George Miller


Artist James Farrah has juried many exhibits before, but jurying his first exhibits at The Art League still presented a challenge. “Large Works” was juried online, meaning Farrah had only photographs to work with. “Small Works” was juried in person, but with 428 pieces entered, there were lots of decisions to be made.

Complicating that process was the high quality of work across the board, thanks to the resources available to contemporary artists. With the best art museums, art teachers, and art supplies to work with, “there’s no reason the best art ever made shouldn’t be made right now,” Farrah said.


Small & Large Works installation view


But, as a juror, “you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.” Guiding Farrah’s decision-making were features like composition, color, value, point of view, and overall finish. There’s always a subjective factor, too, he said, based on a gut reaction: do I want to look at it again?

With such strong entries to choose from, there were some criteria that helped point toward the “no” pile. If Farrah had seen something over and over before, or if the application of paint didn’t relate to the subject matter, those were both factors against a piece’s inclusion. Another important consideration: framing. Sometimes a poor framing job — whether not sturdy enough or inappropriate to the piece — can disqualify a work. Attention to such details is especially important for small works that the viewer experiences up close, Farrah said.

Like a distracting frame, in online jurying, a bad photograph hurts an entry. If colors are off or lighting is uneven, the photo puts the submission at a disadvantage. Jurying from photos is already less accurate than in-person jurying, with surface details invisible to the juror, so a professional photograph helps.

“Small Works” and “Large Works” don’t have any themes, only restrictions on the sizes artists can work in. Submissions came from all over the spectrum: traditional and experimental, abstract and representational, and in all different media. It’s fitting after almost a year of exhibits exploring recent art history that artists explored so many different directions for this annual show.


Small & Large Works installation view


Farrah selected two awards for “Small Works” and one for “Large Works.” Daydreams by Wendy Donahoe won the Eleanor Boudreau Jordan Award for Best in Show in “Small Works.” The photorealistic graphite drawing of the back of a woman’s head “grabbed me instantly,” Farrah said. In addition to the artist’s technical ability and the piece’s strong composition, the figure’s pose stood out.

Vitamins 6
by Amy Ordoveza is a gouache (opaque watercolor) still life of six pills. The painting explores the way the pills transmit and refract light. Farrah said the Second Place Award winner was a well-executed painting with no faults.

, an oil figure painting on canvas by Jordan Xu, won the Cora Rupp Award for Best in Show in “Large Works.”

James Farrah graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 1973 with a BFA in Graphic Design, Painting, and Photography. He kicked off his career as a professional artist in 1974 as an Art Director for WPSX-TV in State College, PA. James holds signature memberships with the American Watercolor Society (AWS), National Watercolor Society (NWS), National Acrylic Painters Association (NAPA), Western Federation of Watercolor Societies (WFS), and the Arizona Watercolor Association (AWA).





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