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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Seen Enough Art Yet?

My choice for First Place in  this art competition would go to Armin Mersmann from Midland, MI
for his phenomenal pencil drawing. 

The only juror Mi-Kyoung Lee's first place winner
While this piece does have incredible merit, my choice was prejudiced.
I'm very in awe of detailed pencil drawings, which aren't as showy as this.
I would think I had seen enough art  last week. But I guess I didn't, for I immediately  said  yes to a friend's suggestion we go see the Michigan Art Competition at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Association, shamefully, the only art association I am aware of in my area. I was anxious to see where my skills were in comparison to other Michigan artists. (Okay. I was sizing up the competition should I conjure up enough courage to put myself out in the marketplace once I decide once and for all which medium I feel  most comfortable using). I have a ways to go. Overall, the Michigan artists in this neck of the woods are enthusiastic and talented. However:

Ms. Lee's choice for third place. It doesn't look like much here, but each of those squares
and rectangles are made of wood, hand-carved and tinted; it's a wood mosaic. The artist is Sandy Rice.
I neglected to note where in Michigan she/he was from.

There were too many pieces in this juried show. There was also a wide range of abilities. The number of pieces and the wide range of skill made me wonder what had made the juror tick?  I started to take note of which work was from out of town  and which work came from artists who lived close by. On the way home, I concluded that the artists who lived close by were probably accepted into the show because they took classes and workshops or were affiliated in some way with the association. Art associations do need to make a buck by keeping their students coming back and their classes full. The politics of art. --Don't call me cynical --well, you can, it's true-- but you should have seen the worst of show--a monkey could have... I didn't photograph that one.

The following artworks I thought were interesting for the reasons stated in the captions:

The smallest painting in the show. Approximately 3" x 4"

The closet object to a sculpture in the round was this automated and remarkably engineered structure.
I'm sorry,I didn't note the artist. I'll have to go back to get his/her name.  You pressed a button and the structure came to life complete with water spinning the two whisks on either side. Quite amazing!
There were few watercolours in the show, but this one, a portrait, stood out.
 Monochromatic, it looked like a pencil drawing.
The artist is Carolyn Reed Barritt.

This was the oddest, most perplexing sculpture: breasts in an old CC crate.
The title is  Half Case. It's by Deborah Hecht of Bloomfield Hills, MI
I have no idea what the artist was expressing, but to this BC survivor-so-far-so-good, it's distressing.

With portraiture on my mind, the following paintings were particularly interesting:

Artist: William M. William
"Self Portrait With Friends" by Kennith Freed of Kalamazoo, MI
I really like Dali's half face portrait in the upper right corner.

This double portrait by Melissa Jones of Franklin, MI is an absolute knock out.   I think it's called "Without a Match." This would have been my best of show for painting. The reflection cast on the boys face from the magnifying glass is done superbly-- and was hung in the best of show position facing visitors as they entered the gallery, while the first place winner was was in the last gallery in an unlit spot.  What does this really say?

A close up to look at the fine work.


  1. Well I didn't see the show,Linda, obviously... BUT... I agree, your first choice is phenomenal - but then I'm biased towards this sort of thing. The next picture I don't like very much. The wood mosaic, well that sort of 'craft-work' is not really what I like: above everything else I might be (or imagine I am ;)), I am primarily a wood worker (boat-builder/Shipwright), and don't get turned on easily by random wood block stuff.
    Not sure what to make of the smallest picture: it looks fun. The Engineered 'all singing, all dancing... Fred Carno' looks fantastic. The head & shoulders mono, I loved ... the expression on her face!
    The Cola - cliche?
    The last three totally brilliant - I'm boringly predictable :0)) ... but look at the detail!!

    I know what you mean about cynicism, Linda, but hey! We've spent a whole life time building up a healthy cynical eye to the world, why waste it?

    Thanks for such an interesting post ...again!

    1. I don't know what happened to the reply I wrote this morning John, but it's not here this evening. You're absolutely right about the cola sculpture. What was going on there? I didn't like the mosaic wood thing either. It was a shallow basket-weave design. That engineered piece was very special--but the first place painting looked like a billboard to me. I don't know who the juror is, but she really did miss the boat on where the talent was in my opinion.

  2. What an interesting post! Thanks for the tour. I agree on all counts. Here in Portland representational art is loved by many...but not so much by jurists and gallery owners. It is inexplicable...but it is how it is. I believe the breasts in the Coca Cola box may be social commentary, possibly related the "commercialization" of the body (and how breasts can now be purchased by the masses). Just a wild guess. The artist was likely influenced by Warhol's soup can. I really enjoy the portrait of the girl with the contraption on her head and the key around her neck. It's brilliant! Thanks for sharing the show. COOL.

    1. Wasn't that the most unusual watercolour you've seen? Monochromatic, it had depth--drama--the drawing, with all the details--her buttons, her headgear, the look in her eye--was Escheresque. The breast sculpture needed a better title. It was an attempt at being an intellectual elitist if you ask me. whoever the artist, I would never want to go to lunch--too presumptuous. Celeste, you should have seen the worst of show. I'll go back and take a photo of that. That painting alone made me once again reject the idea of any affiliation with the association whatsoever. This gal from Franklin though--I'd like to call her up. Her double portrait took my breath away. and the stamina of the guy who did the pencil drawing was amazing.

  3. You really filled your eyes with beautiful art...maybe even got some inspiration, thanks for sharing!

    1. My head is spilling over Jane--I think I might have seen too much art? While I like to keep up and see what's going on outside my studio, the only art I really care about is what's going on in the studio. I love the museums, but when you're looking for where you fit in art, all those pictures can cause a lot of confusion and force you off your path. I don't even like taking workshops. I'd rather figure the craft out for myself. The Grand Rapids trip and yesterday's trip to the association's competition was about it for me. Now it's back to the drawing board as we designers often put it.

  4. I love art exhibits and shows - always feel nourished by them, no matter how far afield the art might be. In Miami, they love the nonrepresentational art in the museums and galleries. I don't know why.

    Really, really odd stuff is also represented heavily in the big shows like Art Basel - much less on representational. While I can appreciate the talent and creativity behind pieces like Cremos, I do not understand why they win. But I am torn the other way too. I love the William M. William piece - it absolutely blows me away - but while it is masterfully done, where is the creativity? There is not much difference between it and more classically modern pieces except perhaps for the yellow field behind.

    But when elements are added to distinguish oneself from the past the result often seems gimmicky. What elements does one add to properly distinguish one's work, and to make it something new? This is one reason I so admire Nina Johanson's watercolors. It is not straight representational, but has something more. I would love to learn to add elements that are my own. I hope to progress to that point.

    I'm with you on the Melissa Franklin piece. Besides being so well done, the subject matter is very creative, true to life, but not like any other piece I've ever seen. The tight framing of the boys gives it a modern feel.

    I loved this post. There is not too much art here - never enough, never. I am still hungry.

    1. Non representational, conceptual, art is fun to do sometimes Dan, but over all I've got to have a subject. And it looks like my subject is people. I like feeling their moods, their faces, their body language while I touch them with the paint. I also like conversing with folks, which is odd, because I'm pretty reclusive most of the time--actually, a loner. When I do go out though, I'm the lady who will begin conversations while waiting on line, waiting in reception rooms, waiting for an elevator, sitting at the bar. I like talking to strangers and hearing their experiences. I like the exchange of information and ideas--thus blogging.

      As for originality? You got it. I got it. It comes from being yourself and responding freely to your subject emotionally and intellectually. Barritt's watercolour portrait is unique. Painting in a medium appreciated for its sweet color washes and overlays, with a single, middle of the road gray is original--not the vice on her head. What caught my eye from across the room was the no color watercolor. Up close is when I saw the head gear, a touch of Escher.

  5. Ciao, the works you show us are interesting and beatiful, thank you.
    I like very very much the first, beatiful! But also the last ...I did'nt know these artists so, thank you again.
    Ciao, ciao, Floriana

    1. Isn't that pencil drawing amazing Floriana. Originally a pencil artist, I know how much patience and how long it takes to do that kind of work in a small size. When I saw that I thought it must have taken him all year, BUT there was another work of his in the show equally as complex. Phenomenal. The last painting too. The artist, Melissa Jones, lives in Franklin, MI, the next township away. I'd love to call her and ask if she has a class or a workshop. I could learn a lot from her.

  6. A wonderful post, Linda. Wouldn't it be interesting if ten artists visited a show; then posted their opinions? "Without a Match" definitely has no match.

    1. I thought so too Hallie. And after today in the studio back to portrait painting, I think so again. The woman is fantastic. As were your IPad/sketch something or other paintings. I am very intrigued--would like to get my hands on one and give it a try.

  7. I NEVER get tired of art, next to watercolors, sketches, my next love is architecture... BTW I love your new header on your page...very nice.