Monday, March 27, 2006

Tale of two Jacks

Jack Boul Does The Art League

When I picked up the list of artists selected by juror Jack Boul for the Art League’s monthly juried exhibition, I was pleasantly surprised to read one of the shortest and most to-the-point juror statements that I’ve ever read.

Boul’s statement:

"In a recent review of the contemporary art at the 2006 Whitney Biennial, the reviewer said: ‘The state of our nation’s artists is grim.’

After selecting the show at the Art League, I disagree. Artwork is not in crisis. It is alive and well at The Art League. And I find it refreshing!"
Bravo Jack!

Boul reviewed 591 entries and selected 128 for the exhibition. His top award went to a very painterly oil by Nancy Tankersley titled Kitchen Pas de Deux. It is one of the rare times that I’ve agreed with a juror. It’s an intelligent and well-crafted painting. I also quite liked a pastel by M. McGurk titled "Corner Booth" that shows a Hopper-like, aloof blonde beauty, immersed in her own icy world of loneliness.

Sexy in a different way was M. Mitsuyasu's photograph titled "Night Blooming Cereus Portrait 16" and Jackie Saunders' always superb watercolor entry titled "Elena, Elegant." I also liked Isil Ozisik’s masterful wet-on-wet watercolors series "Rain." I know of no one in our area that can paint Washington, DC better than Ozisik.

Pippy Takes A RideBut let me tell you about the piece that took my breath away.

"Pippy Takes a Ride" is a magnificent oil portrait by Edward J. Reed, who goes by Ted, and who teaches portrait painting at the Art League in Alexandria.

In this work, Reed captures that immensely difficult wisp of essence that makes a portrait change from a painting of a person to a portrait of a person.

He has not only captured the pretty-girl quality of the model (who is one of the most popular and talented Art League models around), but also managed to catch her presence and spirit. This is just not a painting of a deeply sensual woman dressed in tough biker gear; this is a work of art that steals a little bit of the soul and presence of the model and embeds it in the oil and medium and visual weight of the work.


I was absolutely hypnotized by the work, and on a second and third view of the work, I noticed a clever hanging of the works around it. Right below the painting was a very sexy black and white photograph of a woman’s curled toes. The photograph is lined up directly below where Pippy’s legs end.

"Did you know?" I asked the gallerist at the Art League, "that those toes are the toes of the same model who posed for Pippy?"

The gallerist glowed. "Yes!" she smiled, "that’s why I put them there."

Jack Rasmussen does Target

While I was in Alexandria I dropped by the Target Gallery to see the show juried by my good friend Jack Rasmussen, Director and Curator of the Katzen Arts Center. He juried a show titled "Stretched Tight," with a fascinating set of works and artists, and like any group show, some superb selections and a dud or two.
Portrait by Holland
The piece that took my immediate attention on the first go-round was Brent A. Holland’s "Self-Portrait," a gorgeous oil on panel work that reminded me of the hard-core grittiness of harsh realists such as Gregory Gillespie was.

I also like Pat Goslee’s continuing exploration of the vast, moist world of odd, sensual vaginalism in an encaustic work titled "In Her Synaptic Gap."

Three works by Cara Ober were awarded the Best in Show by Rasmussen, and were all three intelligent choices.

Another piece that I liked was Anna Davis’ "Back to the Cradle," another one of her bright paper-on-canvas-that-look-like-mosaics works.

The dud in the show (in my opinion) was Laura Yang’s "Untitled 533" which was a fair enough of a painting, except that I’ve seen this sort of "quickie" Marsley-like thing a million times over the last few decades, and it never worked for me the first time, and not this millionth time.

Overall it was a top notch show, a nicely-done juried job by Jack, and another good exhibition by Target, which continues to do well thanks to a well-developed juror pool that uses the best in our area to select work for the gallery each month.

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