The KSOA juried exhibition has always offered a visual feast, and 2021 is no exception. “I was thrilled by the number of artists and volume of wonderful art that was submitted this year,” says coordinator Nancy Ball. “Perhaps a positive side of the pandemic,” she concludes. Seventy-four artists entered 161 works in all sizes, of which 65 were chosen. Styles range from hyperrealism to abstraction, in a variety of media, with subjects that include animals, people, florals, landscapes, seascapes and city scenes.
Whimsical, serious, evocative and provocative, the artworks in this year’s show provide inspiration for her own art practice, remarks Su Sheedy, one of three judges. “I always find it stimulating to view art which inspires new thoughts about certain materials, colour combinations, composition, tone, restraint, framing …,” says Su.
As a judge, Su calculated her response to the pieces on first impression, then artist intention, material expressing technique, uniqueness, and risk factor. She and the two other judges—Christina Maclachlan and Maureen Sheridan—gravitated to different pieces but worked together respectfully during deliberation in order to choose three winners and nine Honourable Mentions.
Taking first prize this year is Nadia, an intimate oil portrait by Dan Hawkins. Nadia is clear-eyed and fearless. Her smooth, marble-like skin is flawless. “There are no attributes and objects to give us clues to the subject’s life, loves and history,” remarks Judge Christina Maclachlan. “Instead, the attention is directed solely on Nadia’s face and her expression.” But Nadia has also applied a hint of lipstick, encouraging the viewer to wonder if she is in a state of anticipation.
Second prize goes to Rocky Hillside by Alex Jack. This work in pastel and charcoal offers rich textured tones punctuated by small dabs of colour. The spare charcoal marks are suggestive: We see a rocky stepped landscape sandwiched between trees and grasses. No line is straight. The scene is recognizable, but begs the question, Where are we? “There is an element of restraint that gives this piece power, and it seems the artist knows that some things don’t bear much telling,” remarks Su Sheedy.
Rocky Hillside is also the recipient of the Hennie Marsh Award, presented in memory of an artist well known in the KSOA community. Hennie was born in 1949 in the Netherlands and came to Canada at a young age. She studied with André Bieler and later earned an MA focussing on the psychology of colour. After recovering from breast cancer, she retired early from teaching to devote herself to her art practice. Painting in acrylic, she developed a unique technique with this water-based medium, which she used to carry out many of her successful artworks. Her most treasured awards were those given to her for her work in the KSOA Juried Exhibitions. She died on June 21, 2020, while she was working on her submissions for last year’s show.
Sleepyhead, a large acrylic painting by Sheila Ballantyne, takes third prize in this juried exhibition. Four cows--two with that straight-on look that cows have—standing in dirty wet snow. “This painting really evokes a farm-related scene and the personality of the animals,” remarks judge Maureen Sheridan. The title of the work refers to the cow with eyes closed, uninterested, standing slightly apart. The cow bringing up the rear, head turned, keeps watch over the other two in this successful composition.
Following are Honourable Mentions, with excerpted judges’ comments.
The Meandering Path, oil, Rachel Legault
“There is a calming effect from all the greens and the delicate painting technique.”
The Sink at Hopkins Garage, acrylic, Estelle Greatrix
“This gritty but realistic portrayal of a much-used old sink feels familiar and real to the viewer. One can almost smell a bar of soap.”
Wish You Were Here, embroidery, Allison Cope
“It’s fascinating to see how the artist has used stitching techniques, materials and colour to evoke waves and splashing water.”
Lifelines, acrylic, Vivian MacDonald
“This piece speaks to the reliance people have had on their relationships with their pets during this difficult pandemic.”
Nuit de noces, assemblage, Danielle Ouellet
“The eye is riveted to the raw, rough fabrics that make up this torn, garment-like structure. There is darkness on the ‘Wedding Night’.”
Point of View, charcoal and acrylic, Carolyn Huff-Winters
“The strength of this piece lies in the artist’s ability to present a familiar landscape in a unique way.”
Untitled 5, 2020, mixed media, Rose Stewart
“The artist has created a strong visual labyrinth which keeps the eye roving and puts you in a dream state.”
Autumn Lakeshore, oil stick on paper, Julie Withrow
“For a small (almost tiny) painting, there is an enormous amount of textural energy barrelling forth.”
Sam, oil, Ineke MacNab
“It feels like Sam is engaging with us as much as we are engaging with her.”
The 2021 Juried Exhibition & Sale continues until July 29, with health protocols in place in the gallery.
Ulrike Bender is a former graphic designer, art director and ESL teacher who, in retirement, has ventured into photography. She is currently a volunteer gallery assistant at the WAG and a docent at Agnes.