Tuesday, December 22, 2020

GASP at Artists in Middleburg


Earlier today I stopped at the Artists in Middleburg art gallery in Middleburg, Virginia (which is one of the nicest and cutest little towns less than an hour's drive from the DMV.

The Artists in Middleburg (AiM) is "a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Based out of a small art gallery in Middleburg, AiM hosts themed exhibitions each month for local artists as well as offers art classes, from Plein Air experiences to sculpting instruction."

On exhibition was GASP (GREAT ART SMALL PRICES), which features artwork under $500 and which runs through January 10, 2021.  This is a terrific show, loaded with exceptional art and clearly worth the short drive to Middleburg between now and Christmas if you're looking for that most super special of gifts: original art!

The show was juried - not sure who the juror was, but as readers of my writing know by now, I love to not only tell you who the prizewinners were, but also who I'd would have given the prizes to... this is always a healthy exercise (in my opinion anyway), as it is a great example of a Campellification of that well-established art saying: "art is eyes of the beholder... in this case "it depends who the juror is."

By now I have juried hundreds of art shows at all levels of the art cabal food scale, and I am always honored to be a juror, no matter for what of for whom.  I am also an opinionated juror, but that opinion always comes from a good place.

Best of Show was awarded by the juror of GASP to Greek Man, a stone, Smalti, 14k gold, and Swarovksi crystals mixed media piece (14.25 x 13 x .5 and selling for $475) by artist Charlene Sloan.

First place went to Winter's Day End, a lovely oil landscape painting by Laura Hopkins.

The second place award went to Hanging on the Vine, Mixed Media (20 x 25, $500) by Maribe Chandler-Gardiner, and third place to a spectacular sunset oil painting by Sharon Clinton titled (of course) Sunset (oil, 12x19 and $375).

Congratulations to all the prizewinners - well deserved!

Now... for my personal choices.  

First and foremost, I really, really liked all the paintings in the show by that same Sharon Clinton, including that prizewinning Sunset, and also After the Storm, a highly demanding and superbly executed small (8x10 inches) oil - I would have chosen either of those two as Best in Show.

That's Sunset to the right - showcasing the power of color when executed by a talented painter.

The paint application shows an exuberance of that certainty in applying and mixing paint that only comes after a thousand mistakes - each one a learning episode in the glorious path to dominance over the medium.

Another prizewinner for me would have been Jill Garity - her End of Summer (Oil, 16 x 12 for $485) was exceptionally well painted and clearly she has mastered also the palette knife . Garity writes that most of her paintings are "a combination of places that are both real and imagined.They are begun with rough shapes and a pattern of light and dark and are then developed with layers of opaque paint and glazes. Underlayers peeking through providing interest and visual texture. Use of the palette knife in places also provides a randomness that provokes creativity and often takes me on a path I had not planned."  Another winner would have been Contemplating Jackson Falls (Oil, 8 x 6 for $285).

Besides Clinton and Garity, an artist named Anne Reid also caught my eye.  Reid is what my art school professors would have described as a "painter's painter." Her brushwork is forceful and skilled, and it is the application of paint that makes her work stand out.  I quite liked Afternoon Drive (Mixed Media, 5 x 7 for $175) and The Farmer (Mixed Media, 9 x 12 for $450).

That's The Farmer to the right - note the way that Reid has decided to define the road just trod by the tractor.  Notice that colors, and shapes, and texture define the road, in an abstract way that once inside the entire composition becomes a highly realistic road! And yet, if you put a roughly square frame around that foreground road, you have quite an intelligent abstract work!

What else did I like?

I liked Margaret Cassidy's photos, Peggy Weed's Chicks (which was the rest of the Campello family's top pick!), Karen Merkin's Purple Onion, and a few others.

Some constructive criticism: I want several of the artists in this show - including some of my prizewinners - to read this article from over a decade ago: How to Sign Your Artwork.

This is a jewel of a small, intimate show in a memorable small town full of cool little shops and top of the line restaurants - the fried oysters at King Street Oyster Bar are really good, and the Thai food at Thaiverse Restaurant was among the best Thai food that our family has ever had.