Friday, April 28, 2006

Duffy Juries The Art League

My most recent visit to the Art League was to see the All Media Show, which although subtitled "Emphasis on Sculpture" was anything but that.

The show was juried by sculptor William Duffy, who according to the Art League, "has neither juried for The Art League before nor been to the Torpedo Factory since the early 1980s. When asked whether he had any expectations, he said he had thought the art would be 'sentimental' and 'crafty' but it was not. Duffy said he was surprised by the level of fine art, and liked the mixture of fine art, academic art, and 'funky' art."

Mr. Duffy’s surprising ignorance of the level of artwork shown at the Art League, and his even more surprising lack of visits in over 20 years is endemic of artists and critics who often have a wrong sense of things in the art scene around our greater area because of their own artistic apathy to what goes on around them. Get out more often, and see things before you say anything about them.

Duffy also said, "I went into the selection process with a very open mind. I was looking for the unique, self-discovery or expression rather than a duplication of other styles, artists, or periods."

This immediately alarms me as well, as (in my mind anyway) it places Mr. Duffy in the immediate camp of "it must be new to be good."

This academic and most traditional belief that "duplication of other styles, artists, or periods" is an immediate bad thing, is these days itself a sign of an artistic mind not in tune with the ebbs and flows of the postmodern art scene, where anything and everything is art.

In fact, one could submit that the most influential artists on the planet today (according to Sotheby’s anyway), Gerhardt Richter, is nothing but an artist who duplicates "other styles, artists, or periods."

Also according to the Art League (and despite this outdated commentary):

"Duffy frequently commented that the artwork reminded him of a particular artist. Emily’s Dilemma (by D. Smith), a collage box was, according to Duffy, reminiscent of Joseph Cornell’s psychological boxes about his psyche. Precarious Positions (by C. Levin) reminded him of Jeff Koon’s ‘kitschiness.’ And the acrylic, My Space (by G. Murrill), had a crudeness and symbolism reminiscent of the work of French artist, Odion Redon."
Also according to the Art League:
"Duffy looked for art where he felt the artist saw art as part of them, where there was quite a bit of ‘uniqueness and depth of expression.’ The Newlyweds (by G. Lockhart), a bronze sculpture, was ‘very honest and expressive.’ He liked the ‘simplicity’ of the terra cotta sculpture, The White Dress (by J. Legg). Rhino (by C. Romano), stoneware displayed ‘lots of artistic experience with the medium, drawing, sculpture, and composition.’ Monet’s Garden (by G. Rando) was like ‘stained glass and I suggested it should have a light behind it.’ Configuration I (by A. Becker), a wood sculpture, which on initial touch one is afraid will fall apart, but one can play with it and it holds together. Nested Waves (by N. Falk), a glass sculpture made of two pieces of glass, had ‘interesting shapes’ and reminded him of public art.
But enough on Mr. Duffy, who should get out more often, and more on the show itself.

Watercolor by Jenny DavisHaving visited nearly every monthly Art League exhibition since the early 90s, and having juried it myself, let me say that it is very, very difficult to select a bad show.

Such is the immense talent pool that is the Art League’s artist membership.

My favorite piece in the show was another stunning watercolor by Jenny Davis. This piece, titled "Hands with Bangles," continues to establish the young Davis (daughter of equally talented watercolorist Tanya Davis) as one of the prime watercolorists in our area. Completely self-taught, the young Davis, who has just finished High School, already masters the most difficult of mediums in her obvious mastery over transparent watercolors. While I was there staring in rapture-like ecstasy at her watercolor, I was informed that Jenny had recently been accepted to the Torpedo Factory as one of its newest (and youngest) artist members and will soon have a studio there.

I also liked "Mother Sara" by Nancy Reinke, which has a slight dark attraction to the piece, and "Sunset" by Peter Ulrich, which is a most traditional watercolor of boats and ocean, etc., and yet proves that in the hands of a talented artist, sometimes the subject matter doesn’t really "matter" and we are seduced by the skill and facility of the artist.

The exhibition goes through May 1, 2006.

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