Art of emotion: Barfoot takes top award at DAC show, Durango Herald, June 12, 2007

ELI RUBEL/Herald photos

L to R: Rebecca Barfoot’s “Serena and Me 1917-2007” won Best of Show at the 31st annual juried art show “Emotion.” Prizes were presented at a reception at the Durango Arts Center on Friday, June 8. Judy DeVincentis Morgan received an Honorable Mention for “Chili Pickers.” Rod Craig’s pastel “Songs in the Evening.”

A stunned Rebecca Barfoot won Best of Show at the Durango Art Center’s 31st annual juried art show reception Friday night.

The young artist held back tears of joy as Exhibits Director Susan Andersen presented her with a check for $500 for “Serena and Me, 1917-2007,” a collage painting representing the artist’s connection to her female ancestors.

The theme of this year’s show (through June 23) is “Emotions,” and Barfoot’s sensitive depiction of women sharing inspiration through time was a likely choice, as was Mary Ellen Long’s “Bonnets of Aging.” Awarded the Juror’s Choice Award of $150, “Bonnets of Aging” is an installation of blue-and-pink satin baby bonnets trailing ribbons of handmade paper books filled with comments about life and growing older.

“It’s a work that showed tons of emotion and sensitivity,” said juror Gregory C. Gummersall, a contemporary painter and collage artist, who whittled down the 124 submissions to 65 with the help of his wife, Jenny Gummersall, a photographer.

The Gummersalls selected a quote by Josef Albers, the Bauhaus artist and former Black Mountain instructor, to summarize their approach to art.

“Art is revelation instead of information, expression instead of description, creation instead of imitation or repetition. Art is concerned with the HOW, not the WHAT; not with literal content, but with the performance of the factual content. The performance – how it is done – that is the content of art.”

The jurors selected work that spoke to them on an instinctual level. They also valued artists who did not let a lack of materials stop them from creating. Their merit and honorable-mention awards went to artists Marsan (Susan Andersen), who created “Feeling
peek-id” from found objects, bone, shell and porcupine quills, and to Karen McIntyre for her wire sculpture “Mis Hijas Roxie and Murphy.”

The most poignant moment came when Mike Austed was awarded an honorable mention for a pencil drawing called “The Actor.”

Austed has a disability and is part of the Kindred Spirits program at the DAC. His grin expressed the emotion he captured in his drawing. Austed told the crowd that the drawing was not for sale because he had given it to his mom for Mother’s Day.

Several members of the Plein Air Painters of the Four Corners have work in the show featuring people working in fields or figures integrated into landscape. Judy DeVincentis Morgan received an honorable mention for her oil “Chile Pickers.” And Sharon Abshagen reveals a completely different side with “Blue Line,” a painting that features several female forms, darkened faces and a blue line of barbed wire running across the painting, seeming to restrain the figures.

Barbed wire is literally wrapped around a canvas by Maryellen Morrow, who strapped bark over a painting of a figure. The effect doesn’t work for me, and I’d like to see Morrow create more abstracted landscapes as she did for the last juried show at DAC.

There is a playfulness to this show evident in work like “Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Ain’t No Moe” by Howard Searle that also received an honorable mention. A folk-art narrative is also evident as expressed by artists Thaddine Swift Eagle, Tirzah Camacho and Dave Sipe.

But it is the more serious work that stands out for me. Durango artist Rod Craig submitted three large, pastel paintings. “Songs in the Evening” hangs prominently at the entrance of the gallery. It features a repetition of angles, doors and walls, with light coming through into a room, each wall a different, vibrant shade. It’s a play of color and shape and form and light. The emotion? For me it seems to be inspiration. Leanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the visual arts.

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