Juried art shows are a great way to see what's new and exciting in the local art scene. The 2003 Juried Art Exhibit on display at the Kenai Fine Arts Center in Kenai offers an opportunity to do just that.
The show also serves as a good indicator of the state of the local arts scene in general.
"Kenai has a pretty flourishing (arts) community down there," said artist and teacher Graham Dane of Anchorage, who juried the show. "... There were a lot of people who were pushing and attempting new things. To push the bounds of ourselves is always a good thing."
The show was open to submissions from artists in any visual art medium, so there is a breadth of pieces to view, including fiber arts, painting, photography, sculpture and ceramics.
Since it's a a juried show, the pieces selected for display are representative of the cream of the local artistic crop -- or at least the juror's idea of what the best pieces are. In his juror's statement, Dane said he was impressed with the variety of media and quality of work submitted for the show. Forty-seven artists entered 122 pieces in the show, of which Dane selected 39 pieces by 26 artists for display. Several pieces not selected for the show were worthy of being added to the display, but space constraints forced Dane to make some tough decisions, he said.
"We had a lot of work, but not a lot of wall space," Dane said. "That's the sad thing about doing the show. The juror's job is to hang a show that hopefully reflects what's going on in the community and spotlights certain people and hopefully will get people talking."
Dane himself is an abstract painter, and many of the pieces he selected for the show have an abstract quality, but he said he did not choose them for that reason.
"I think good work is good work," he said. "I think that what really appeals to me is the subject matter itself as well as the gut reaction. Some pieces are like unruly children wanting attention and others are like the quiet kid in the corner."
Dane has curated and juried many shows, and said he never views the work with any preconceptions.
"I just wait and see what's going to be there because there's always stuff that surprises you and that's one of the joys of doing it," he said.
One of the surprises of this show was the abundance and quality of digital work. Dane singled out two of Clayton Hillhouse's three images with juror's choice awards, and said in his juror's statement that Hillhouse's digital images had an "ethereal and spiritual quality -- very evocative and mysterious."
One of Jay Barrett's three archival ink jet images, "Seat 24," was awarded an honorable mention, as was Marty's Hapeman's "Winter Laughter" transparency print and Natasha Ala Johnson's "Trunk and Torso" black and white photograph.
This stoneware piece by Erika Bronson is called "Wave."
"That's one of those revolutions that happens across the country," Dane said. "I'm pleased to see more digital art, it's one of the more democratic ways of working."
Dane selected Deland Anderson's "North Coast Waters" egg tempera painting for the juror's choice award, and said it "struck me as a truly Zen approach to painting but one that is also centered upon (Anderson's) experience of Alaska itself."
The other honorable mention awards were given to Marty Ames Ellis for a collage piece called "Cerca Del Cruce," Hapeman's "Untitled" mixed media and Johnson's "Embracing Fear" mixed media.
The 2003 Juried Art Exhibit will be on display at the Kenai Fine Arts Center, at 816 Cook Ave., through the end of the month.
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