Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Also-rans: You be the judge

Sometimes, the also-rans are just as nice as the big winners. Other times, they're even nicer.

Nobody but the faraway judges knows why some art is picked for the big Toledo Area Artists show at Toledo Museum of Art, and other items are relegated to the annual Salon des Refuses exhibit, again this year at 20 North Gallery.

Smart local art lovers don't see one show without the other. This year is the same: The Salon show fills in the blanks left by its more impressive sibling, and gives wannabe art critics a chance to question the “expert judges'” judgments. And those who wish can put their money where their heart is - most of the works are for sale.

Accidental themes show up in this year's Salon:

Pregnancy and birth: A triptych of painterly paintings by Heather Johnston, an elegantly framed nursing bra by Jennifer Sawchuckle-Hess, and Clone, a ceramic disc painted with zygotes, all touch on the Eternal Mother.

Nudity: Speaking of eternity, where would generations of artists be without unclothed bodies? Along with the usual drawings of perfect young women are some remarkable males painted by Paul Angelo LoGiudice, pictures kept behind curtains at the recent Guerrilla Gallery show. Daniel Holmes' Inspiration from the Uffizi combines elements of Mexican religious retablo, Mughal Kama Sutra, and gonzo cartoonist Roz Chast in a cross-cultural, bare-bottom bas-relief. And those compelled to cover innocent eyes should surely be warned about Elizabeth Price's fun, funky painting Shakespeare Never Did This.

Other themes include blindness, apples in two and three dimensions, birds in various states of realism, and still lives.

Aside from Michael McWhorter's wildly gesturing Plexiglas sculptures, this is a show of quiet, still things. Flowers in vases, a stone eye in a little cube, ice cream vans parked in a neat, snowy row. McCloud Wolff's Windsor Chair is a portrait of a pug and a lab, staring and still. Robert Yudashkin's P and Vogue are lovely photographic studies of light, rust, paint, and letterforms. Kim NaVarre's From Gestalt Fables is silent as the dead sparrow in the left corner.

The stars of this quiet show are three canvases by Janet Felton, vibrant abstractions of green, yellow, blue, and red. This kind of also-ran stepchild brings to mind all those borderline pieces in the “better show.”

Just what were those judges thinking?

The 12th annual Salon des Refuses, sponsored by Spectrum: Friends of Fine Art, is open from 9 to 11 tonight at 20 North Gallery, 20 North St. Clair St. The exhibit runs through July 25. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is free; a $1 donation will be collected at the door at tonight's opening party.

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