THE JURY IS IN: A successful blend of styles, media and skill
By the time the deadline for entries into the KSOA Juried Exhibition and Sale rolled around, the school had received 138 submissions from 65 artists. On Monday came the difficult task of whittling the entries down to 61—the 61 that will hang on the walls of the gallery from June 29 to July 29. On hand were co-ordinator Margaret Brackley, along with Mary Lou Jaansalu and Nancy Ball, who moved paintings from back room to hallway to gallery as the works were chosen.
Judges Bruce St. Clair, Evelyn Rapin and Lori St. Clair tackled the job with coloured dots in hand. The works that received three dots were automatically in the show. Those with one or two were further scrutinized until all of the choices were unanimous. Judges were looking for works that successfully expressed the artists’ intentions: important were colour harmonization, use of space, technique, originality, and authenticity in the case of figurative works.
All three judges have long careers as professional artists and all three work in different styles. Bruce, one of Canada’s foremost realist painters, favours representational subjects, but appreciates many art expressions; Evelyn’s work veers toward abstract expressionism—her paintings are often inspired by music; Lori, whose background is in graphic design, currently works in more than 10 different media--including brush markers--used for tangling, illustration and calligraphy. Grounded by experience, intuition therefore also played a role in how the judges assembled the final pieces for the show.
“In choosing works we are recognizing individuality. Each one represents personality, “ said Bruce. “A show such as this is a form of recognition and encouragement for artists in the region.” When it came time to choose the prize winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd and nine honourable mentions), the judges likewise took into account medium, support and mastery of technique. Prizewinners will be announced on Saturday, July 7, at 3pm, during the reception that takes place in the gallery from 2 to 5pm.
Final week to catch this show!
Ryan Monahan explores colour in the work he is showing at the WAG this month, but he also wears his artistic creations on his body, albeit in monotone. I spoke to him while he was hanging his acrylic paintings on Friday, and discovered that the tattoos are a reflection of his earliest interest in drawing. As a LaSalle high school student, Ryan liked to make patterns and geometric shapes. He created his first tattoo at the age of 18 and, after five sessions in a tattoo parlour, now wears his own designs on his arms: a series of thin, irregular and wavy lines encircling his upper arm and shoulder; a geometric Möbius strip-like shape; an Escher-like configuration that he calls Impossible Triangles; and an intricate circular pattern reminiscent of an old-fashioned doily. His most recent tattoo--a smaller and simpler creation comprised of parallel gently curving lines that bring to mind a shell or a fountain—is perhaps a more accurate indication of his current interests in abstraction.
For Ryan, who is employed at Sodexo (Queen’s hospitality services), painting is a hobby. It began after high school when he used watercolour to make landscapes and flowers. He moved into abstraction when he became interested in using a tablet to create digital paintings. One-and-a-half years ago he switched to acrylics and now, at age 22, his abstract expressionist canvasses cover a range of sizes, the largest, Cerulean, dominating the walls of the WAG.
With only 12 works on view, the paintings have room to breathe. And breathe they do, as each of them conveys a kinetic energy. Chroma, a blooming of reds into browns and golds, demonstrates deftly animated brushstrokes, as do all of Ryan’s paintings, in this case short, curved irregular marks. Radiant, on the other hand, uses longer, textured, sinuous strokes that evoke fire.
“How do you know when a painting is finished?” I ask the inevitable question that addresses one of an artist’s conundrums. “I just have a sense. I do a painting all in one day. I’ll take a break and then determine if it needs more work.” Torrent was the most difficult to finish, Ryan recalls. In contrast to the works in which paint has been added in thick, opaque layers, or work with overall colour, this painting is composed of bold, wide, red, black and beige brushstrokes on a white canvas. The starkness is alleviated by transparent drips, created when Ryan added water. Imagine the artist with paintbrush in one hand and squeeze bottle in the other. Torrent was his first attempt at this method and he says it was hard to know when to stop.
The paint/drip process is one Ryan has continued to use and then further exploited by hanging his paintings with drips appearing sideways or upside-down. Incandescent, as a result, feels more horizontally striated, while the upward-flowing drips in Cerulean conjure stalagmites in a cave-like setting that draws the eye to a central opening of textured blue light.
COLOUR THEORY continues at the Window Art Gallery until June 23, 2018.