2018 Exhibiting Artists
The Gloucester Arts Festival Committee takes great pleasure in announcing the artists selected to participate in our 2018 Juried Show. We owe special thanks to all who submitted work and to our juror, Jeff Harrison. We had 74 artists apply for consideration and the following 25 were juried into the exhibit.Congratulations to this year’s exhibiting artists!
Michele del Pilar
Holland Wentz Etheridge
James Warwick Jones
Theresa Wells Stifel
2018 Juried Show Award Winners
Best Body of Work: Holland Wentz Etheridge
$2,000 Award and Opportunity for solo show at Arts on Main
Awards of Excellence $1,000 each:
‘NOTE TO SELF’ by Tommy Fox
‘RED OR WHITE’ by Robin Harris
‘STORIES TO TELL’ by George Jennings
Certificates of Merit for Body of Work:
Nancy Topping Bazin
Judge Jeff Harrison’s Remarks on the Show
June 1, 2018 – About Jeff Harrison
First of all, I want to thank Adrianne Joseph and the Cook Foundation for asking me to serve as the judge for this, the second annual celebration of the Gloucester Arts Festival. My thanks, too, to the members of the Festival Committee, who made tonight and so much more possible. And a special thank you to Mollie Stewart, who patiently walked me through the electronic minefield of my preliminary online selection process.
As you probably guessed from my resume and appearance, I am by training and inclination a traditionalist. I devoted my career as an art historian and museum curator to art largely produced before 1900, which means that all the artists I dealt with were, to be blunt, dead. And that meant I could interpret, or misinterpret, their work to my heart’s content. They couldn’t object, they couldn’t talk back, they couldn’t set the record straight. And I couldn’t call or text them questions when I was skating on thin ice. I could only speculate about why they did what they did when they did it. The critical component of the creator’s voice was missing. The show tonight gives me a rare and really wonderful opportunity to engage with the work of living, breathing artists, and even more interesting, with artists who are in the daunting, but at the same time thrilling process of perfecting and expressing their own voice and vision. Finally, I’m looking at the work of artists who can talk back, who can direct and advise and guide the eye, and I hope those artists who are here tonight will talk back (not now, but later in the reception). I’d love to talk with you about what you’re doing.
And about what you’re doing, I have to tell you how impressed I am with the consistently high quality of the work in the show. I mean really, really impressed. Just in the realm of landscape alone — that is, views of nature — I was stunned by the phenomenal technical mastery they revealed, the variety of styles and interpretive range. And over all, throughout the show, artist after artist, I was stunned at what could be achieved in a mere 8-by-8-foot format.
I had an extremely difficult time assigning the awards tonight; there were so many worthy candidates for what soon seemed to be too few prizes. So before I begin all that, I want to congratulate all of you on your work, and more importantly, I want to salute you for pursuing the artistic path, for choosing to bring your creative power to bear on explaining the inexplicable, to struggle to give shape and meaning to this very strange and often beautiful experience that we call, for want of a better term, life.
Now, while I have often said that a judge can never be completely free from the pitfalls of personal aesthetic preference, I assure you that I’ve tried my best to keep a set of “objective” criteria uppermost in my mind as I worked through the process. Above all, I have looked for authenticity, modernity, and directness of artistic expression, for breadth of feeling, visual wit, and even poetry when the subject might invite it. I’ve also looked for compositional unity and balance, and for the considerable technical skills required in mastering any artistic medium.
So, here we go. I’ll start with the Certificates of Merit and work my way forward to the final award. I’m doing this to keep your blood pressure elevated as long as I can. That’s just my job as a judge.
The Certificates of Merit carry no dollar stipend, but they give me a chance to pay tribute to at least some of the really wonderful works on view tonight.
Mary McCormack - I salute her for her series of small, poetically spare seascapes in acrylic on canvas, where sea and sky are boiled down to the very basics — two horizontal bands of color and light separated by an unbroken horizon line. They are the soul of simplicity. It’s extremely hard to pull off this kind of reductive landscape composition without sacrificing the visual poetry that should come along with the subject, but she does it, giving us all the light, color and atmosphere that we desire.
Nancy Topping Bazin - Creating an entire world is an uphill battle for any artist, but Nancy Topping Bazin has done just that, populating a whimsical realm of fantastic feathered creatures, a world of brilliant color and bold, semi-abstract patterns. It’s a charmed place of pure imagination that offers hours of joyful contemplation.
Victoria Martin – Her minutely worked pen and ink drawings lend remarkable dignity and personality to her animal subjects. Her technique of spidery, hair line loops and S-curves is also amazing. A wonderfully personal and inventive approach to the typical pen and ink method.
Kathleen Noffsinger – I was especially impressed by her two oil and wax shore scenes, which really capture the wind, dry heat and sandy grit of a stretch of tropical beach. They are beautifully done.
Moving on to the three Awards of Excellence, which are given for specific works of art on display, and carry a stipend of $1,000 each.
George Jennings – In the midst of a very strong field of landscape artists here tonight — both studio and plein-air artists — one painter really spoke to me. George Jennings lends real dignity and even poetry to what is the fairly traditional landscape repertoire of old houses, abandoned sheds, and fishing boats. His palette is evocative and his painting technique is “fireworks” dazzling. There isn’t a slack image in his entire display. Though every work is a gem, I was really taken by the pure expressive power of “Stories to Tell.”
Robin Harris – I love the playful risk-taking of Robin Harris’s work. She brings what is normally the fairly staid photo realist style to bear on a range of dynamic, unstable pop still lifes — tumbling doughnuts, crashing wine glasses. She is especially adept at capturing the reflective halflights and highlights of transparent and translucent materials, like ice, cellophane, glass and liquids. Her painting “Red or White” shows a pair of wine glasses colliding in a raucous toast as wine cascades down. It captures the boozy exuberance of a final, late-night toast.
Tommy Fox – Tommy Fox’s “Note to Self” is a little bit like wandering into a Hieronymus Bosch painting, where myriad fanciful creatures and other strange phantom forms collide in a kind of cosmic soup – a melange of scratches, doodles and found objects that, given the title, all have some reference to the artist himself. I mean, whose mind hasn’t at some point scanned like that? I love the edgy comedy laced with anxiety, something that plays out in all his works on view — which, incidentally, show an impressive mastery of a range of subjects, styles and techniques. A versatile guy!
Finally, we come to the ultimate prize for Best Body of Work, the award the recognizes the overall exceptional quality of an artist’s entire installation, which carries a $2,000 stipend and the even more coveted opportunity to mount a future solo show of her or his work here at Arts on Main.
Holland Wentz Etheridge – She demonstrates an absolute mastery of the watercolor technique, which is a tricky, unforgiving medium for any artist to attempt. And, even more remarkable, she uses watercolor to depict a wide array of subjects, not merely landscape or still life, where watercolorists tend to cluster, but much more complex and ambitious figure subjects. And her figures aren’t staid and motionless portrait studies, but dynamic, emotionally vibrant human beings, full of the joy of life. Just look at her large watercolor, “Helen Darian at 101,” which captures not only the wrinkles on a hand or the gleam on a coffee cup, but the momentary magic of a shared laugh between generations, a rare glimpse of the essence of the human condition. Well done!