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Jane Allen Nodine is Professor of Art and Director of the Curtis R. Harley Art Gallery
It has been a pleasure for me to judge the national exhibition of the Colored Pencil Society of America, Explore This 8, 2012. I enjoyed viewing works by artists from throughout the country and getting a brief glimpse into their world of visual interpretation. I would like to thank Paula Parks, CPSA administrator, for her attention to preparation of the entries and making my job easier.
In making my selections for the 2012 exhibition I gave particular attention to the medium of colored pencil and noted eligibility criteria in the prospectus. As a visual artist I am concerned with the visual impact of work that may include intrigue, mystery, awe, satisfaction, tension, discomfort, challenge or surprise. Execution and craftsmanship are integral to the analysis process, along with the content or subject matter of work, originality, innovation and personal expression. Ordinary subjects need not render ordinary art, and I rejoice in seeing the intuitive, innovative, and inquiring artist venture beyond common ground to redefine mundane subjects with a new vantage point or technical expertise. It is a pleasure to see established yet modest materials used in technically proficient ways to redefine and raise subject matter to levels beyond their original intent, and I admire exploration of new techniques mastered and then filtered through the artist's perspective into a contemporary world. While a mixture of media was encouraged, I found some works were overpowered by the inclusion of materials that drained significance away from the basic premise of the work. Some works were weakened by the obtrusive use of extraneous materials that were not fully integrated into the work, and in some cases an artist's signature interfered and detracted from the work.
Regarding awards, I made selections I believe met the criteria of both the competition and the CPSA as it relates to the media of colored pencil. First place and Best in Show, "Sweet Seduction," by Linda Lucas Hardy, was visually and technically exquisite. A simple bowl of grapes is transformed into an image that entices our senses with light, color and translucence. Proficient with the medium, the artist pushes beyond the standard to create a visual pleasure that conveys a magical warmth and energy. Second place "Falling Water IX" by Erwin Lewandowski, captured the ambiguity of reflection, transparency and motion in the rushing waters of a stream. The third place award to Scott Williams for his still life “Apples on Plate with Knife," takes ordinary subject matter presented with a mastery of the medium and interpretation of the material that echoes Dutch Masters of the 17th Century. Simple yet proficient, the viewer is drawn into the detail and surface of this common but classic subject matter. In Fourth Place, Ester Roi's, “River Odyssey," gives the viewer brilliant saturated color with a rich surface using a technique the artist developed with a heated palette and wax media. I applaud all who have participated in this year's competition, and my congratulations to the artists selected for the exhibition and to those recognized with awards.
Jane Allen Nodine