Diverse art show filled with quality, professionalism, Durango Herald, May 9, 2006

Courtesy Farmington Museum
“Fish Wanting to Fly,” photograph by Jeffrey Jue, Oakland, Calif., at the “Gateway to Imagination” National Juried Art Competition in Farmington.

By Leanne Goebel | Special to the Herald

The photographers Jim and Eileen Baumgardt are the only Durango artists in this year’s Gateway National Juried Art Competition in Farmington. The husband and wife each have a picture in the exhibit: Mr. Baumgardt’s poignant still life “No Homework Today” is a color photograph. Mrs. Baumgardt’s “Winter Apple Trees” is a classic black and white, ($225 each).

This year’s National Juried Art Competition is filled with work that is of high quality and professionally executed, but the work is so diverse – the show includes painting, ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, fiber, recycled art, metal, digital art and photography – that many works get lost in the salon style exhibition.

I’m not an admirer of single-juror art shows, especially those that don’t provide artists with a juror’s statement in the call for artist submissions. The selection process is highly subjective depending upon the juror’s background and expertise.

Jill Chancey, this year’s juror for the Gateway National Juried Art Competition, did a commendable job selecting the work. Chancey is the Curator of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel, Miss. A Ph.D. candidate, she has completed her dissertation on the abstract expressionist painter, Elaine De Kooning.

Surprisingly, Chancey chose few works that could be considered abstract expressionism for the Gateway show. My personal favorites in this vein were works by New York artist Ha Rhin Kim: “Rotte Tree 2005-11” and “Rotte Tree 2005-03,” ($1,500 each). These abstract figurative works are black and white with shades of gray, only the black is almost purple. The work is acrylic painted on white Mylar. The Mylar provides a vitreous quality to the opaque areas of paint, which contrasts with the crisp, fine lines of organic forms that look like the veins of leaves.

Chancey made 105 selections from 342 submissions based on her belief that a successful work of art has two components: an interesting idea and successful execution. She said she was looking for “aesthetic quality and some evidence that the artist was thinking about something when creating the art. Good art represents an aesthetic resolution.”

She deemed work to be most successful that expressed the idea of the past as part of one’s present identity, of ancestors traveling with us as we move forward.

I agreed with her selection for Best of Show: “The Passage” by Gil Bruvel of Wimberley, Tex. “The Passage” is a bronze sculpture of a female head representing the ocean and atop her head is a boat and in the boat is an armored man riding the waves. The patina is a gorgeous blue and the face is exquisite. This sculptor has not only mastered technique and aesthetic, but explores ideas and communicates those ideas to the viewer. As Chancey said of Bruvel’s work: “He has such a unique vision. I’ve never seen anything like this and the execution is excellent.” Me either.

Given the name of the show, “Gateway to Imagination,” I was hoping for more works that challenged existing ideas. I think that is why I like the work of Ha Rhin Kim, because I’m not sure how the artist achieved the technique. The best photography in the show is “Fish Wanting to Fly” by Jeffrey Jue, Oakland, Calif. The most whimsical is two plastic fish made from recycled plastic containers: “Bluetail Reef Cruiser” and “Goggle-Eyed Swallow Tail” by David Edgar, Charlotte, N.C.

However, I felt Chancey’s focus on immigration, a hot political issue, influenced her choices more than the aesthetic resolution of the work. Perhaps immigration is on many artists’ minds or perhaps in the difficult challenge of trying to rank diverse works of art, she grabbed at a theme and used it to award prizes.

editor@artsperspective.com or lgoebel@centurytel.net

Pagosa Springs writer Leanne Goebel is an arts journalist and editor of Arts Perspective

“Gateway to Imagination” is on show through July 15 at the Farmington Museum and Visitor’s Center at Gateway Park, 3041 East Main Street, Farmington, (505) 599-1174. Hours: Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Contents copyright ©, the Durango Herald. All rights reserved.

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