Scouting the BAYarts Juried Show

Gwen Waight, Where Are You From, mixed media assemblage, in the BAYarts Juried Show

Juried shows are gateways for artists to get a foot in the door and show their stuff. They cast a wide net, attract a range of artists, and create a buzz that draws large audiences to see diverse works on display at one time.  For this year’s Juried Show at BAYarts, artists Sarah Curry and David King were tasked to choose from over 350 submissions. Sarah and Dave are painting virtuosos, and their creative coupledom is equally powerful in their role as high school art teachers (from Chagrin Falls and Brush High school) where they have been nurturing talent for over thirty years.  Countless alumni from their programs go on to the Cleveland Institute of Art and Kent State University.  Dave and Sarah are incredibly dedicated to this region’s art landscape, and their tireless support of artists is celebrated in the joyful, curious, and playful selections they made for the show at BAYarts.

The other notable silent partner here is the keen eye of BAYarts Artistic Director Karen Petkovic, who presented dynamic and synergistic pairings from wall to wall. The salon-style hang in what can be a tricky venue for such a bountiful show was outstanding, fun, and filled the space with smart intersections not always easy with such a mix of 2D and 3D work. Her seasoned experience with retail display, exhibition design and telling a good story provided an enjoyability and shine that should be noted.

At shows like this, I play a game with myself, pretending I am a talent scout.  I gravitate to the first pieces that catch my eye and my intrigue. One of these show-stopper artists is Gwen Waight,  who creates 2D and 3D, found-object assemblages using  ice picks, vintage shoe horns, fortunes cookie messages, and ceramic Asian figurines.  Gwen, an avid thrifter and collector,  was raised in Iowa where her gutsy and determined statements were clearly a favorite with the jurors with four pieces represented in the show.

Gwen is a champion storyteller in Where Are You From?  She examines the racism and isolation of growing up rural Iowa, which she experienced as an Asian American.  Gwen uses a vintage California job case (type drawer) used to hold letterpress type as the substrate.  The type spells out repeatedly the word IOWA. The language and opportunity barriers are clear through these physical and calculating arrangements.  Plastic corn decorates the top of the drawer like birthday candles, and old water valves suggest unsustainable, arcane systems that are broken. Gold necklaces swag and drape near the bottom of the drawer, calling to mind the arcs of water from farmland irrigation. A porcelain Chinaman figurine is at the center standing isolated with stabbed ice picks aggressively surrounding him, fanning out like rays of an Iowa Sunrise.  Her work is a gut-punch of what must have been a daily reminder of the systemic racism felt blatantly through her  experiences, stifling growth and sustenance,  for someone raised in this climate. All her works, four in total, are really outstanding in this show.

Hollis Richardson, Starry Night, acrylic painting

Two other stand-outs are the acrylic paintings of Hollis Richardson that utilize floral and starburst patterns reminiscent of the stylized-decorative 1960s posters from Haight-Asberry Music era. A profile of two people looking deeply at each other in intimate quarters and another nearby, called Starry Night, has a trippy couple having a good time in a groovy interior space with orange marbleized bursts providing a mood for the couples melting into each other.  in his work, intimacy suggests a still, rare occurrence for many of us during the pandemic. 

Photography and Assemblage came out strong and the work of Cynthia Petry was outstanding.

Spoon Fed Lies, is a collection of antique Sterling silver spoons and photos of stoic Victorian women lining the wells that one would insert in their mouths.  Certainly, a wary symbol to show that women still have a lot to fight for, particularly during the month we celebrate women and how far they have come. One other photographer, who shares this kismet energy is a photo collage by Jann Dieringer called Once Upon a Time.  A beautiful woman’s face is depicted with her eyes cropped, framed with what appears to be sea foam from the tides entering the bottom of the portrait. It is both beautiful, melancholy and longing for another time from the past. 

Erica Dornbusch, Water Sluice

I will leave you with my favorite from the talent search game as I saw it from across the room and immediately wanted to get closer. Water Sluice, by Erica Dornbusch, was a large welcoming, brushy painting with an inviting style that anticipates warmer seasons ahead.  Dornbusch captures nature’s ability to heal us, soothe our bodies in cold glistening stream of sensation and retreat.  The figure depicted is wading at the river’s edge with sunshine sneaking through the trees, so relaxed is her mastery that she provides the viewer with a much needed hint of the coming days.

Sculpture by Benjamin Lambert

BAYarts Juried Show award winners

Best in Show: Victory Chair-A Survivor’s Journey John Scavnicky

1st Place: Folklore – Gwen Waight

2nd Place: Tea for Two, Kimberly Chapman

3rd Place: Encroachment, Benjamin Lambert

Honorable Mention: Now What, John Scavnicky

Judges Choice: Snowbound Dry Dock Maumee, Stuart Pearl

The opinions expressed on CAN Blog are those of the individual writers. Art is somewhat subjective. Well, somewhat. But yes, everybody's a critic.

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