Other than the odd drunken pirate or stupendously pregnant nude, the 94th Toledo Area Artists’ Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art is a pretty tame affair with a skew toward painting.
Of 642 works submitted, two judges selected 94 for the show and 23 for special honors with awards totaling $7,700. Continuing through April 14, the free show displays objects made by people living within 150 miles of Toledo; its female/male split is 55/38, and 15/8 among the 23 winners.
Of two full-frontal nudes on view, one landed best of show and $1,000. An aptly named oil painting, Threshold is of a blonde with belly and breasts thisclose to bursting with new life and food. Her luminescent mass was created by Brandon Briggs, who put her before a wall plastered with dozens of sticky-note-sized images of skulls. Life, indeed, is fragile.
According to his online page at Bowling Green State University where he teaches painting, Briggs’ aesthetic focus is “Representational drawings and paintings investigating the nature of human vulnerability as it relates to subcultural social structures.” Threshold also got a $500 prize in a painting category.
Second place ($500) went to Jessica Summers for her inviting Cooking in Pajamas: Portrait of My Mother: In a golden hue, a gray-haired woman cooks up a storm, but it’s not breakfast. Summers also won $500 for another oil painting, a retro-riff called Self Portrait as Domestic Goddess, in which the dark-haired artist is garbed in a lacy black cocktail dress, holding her casserole in the kitchen. It took second place in the Findlay Art League’s contest in November.
Both of the two fiber pieces received nods. Monica Edgerton-Sperry’s Self Portrait is a cluster of shells, buttons, beads, leather, and embroidery on linen. Look at the eyes, the hair holding a paintbrush, and the tiny red beads in the upper right.
Susan Krueger’s large Guilt Quilt disturbs with its female target and selection of knives ready for tossing: Are they her guilts or the tools with which to attack her guilt?
Winning no formal prize other than perhaps the “did you see...?” is William Barry Roberts’ 36-inch-square oil/charcoal/pencil painting, Drunken Pirate Scoundrels Manning their Cannons. A little lewd and absurdly macho, two big-bellied, bearded chaps lift their shirts and push their flabby breasts together. One’s hair sports a peacock feather, the other has a lit fuse on either side of his head a la Blackbeard the pirate (aka Edward Teach, he’s said to have put lit fuses under his hat to terrify his enemies).
A sweet number, Woman with Pigeons, by Gerry Brock incorporates her handmade paper and pigmented pulp, on which she used oil pastels.
Judges, who gave their choices great thought, were Kate Nissen, a fellow at the museum, and Brooklyn artist/author Joe Fig, whose work was part of 2012’s Small Worlds exhibit. Artists in this year’s TAA show will be considered for a one-person museum exhibition, a special award presented every other year.
Arguably the most prestigious acknowledgement of all is the special award given by the Toledo Federation of Art Societies, bestowed on a hard-working and talented pair. Jack Schmidt and Shawn Messenger are glass artists who are married to each other. They own a large building that includes several studios on the south end of downtown where they make glass and sculpture. Long active in and upbeat about Toledo’s art scene, they were leaders in last summer’s successful Glass Arts Society’s conference in Toledo, a group Schmidt helped form.
The TAA exhibition has been the project of the Toledo Federation of Art Societies; this year it was produced almost entirely by museum staff. It is in the Works on Paper Gallery, U-shaped corridors on the lower level. When the TAA exhibit is in these hallways, submissions have to meet smaller size limitations. Artists don’t like being here as much as in the airy, high-ceilinged Canaday Gallery upstairs where special exhibits are staged. The Canaday is being prepped for the upcoming show of Aboriginal Australian art.
TAA exhibition award winners
Twenty-four awards were given to 18 people at the opening of the 94th Toledo Area Artists’ exhibition Friday night. Winners are:
Best of show ($1,000) Brandon Briggs for Threshold, oil painting; second ($500), Jessica Summers, Cooking in Pajamas: Portrait of My Mother, oil painting; third ($500) Nicole Pelc-Church, Little Fingers, acrylic painting. Those three each won an additional award.
Seven honorable mention awards of $300 and $200 went to John Swihart for John, chalk/pencil drawing; Tom Marino, Crucible Series: Light Source, ceramic; Monica Edgerton-Sperry, Self Portrait, fiber/beads/shells on linen; Leslie Lazenby Hunsberger, When I Grow Up, giclee photo; Carolyn Barritt, The Polar Explorer, charcoal; Natalie McChessney, Tea Bags, pencil drawing; Anna Friemoth, You Shall Not Steal, photograph.
Additional honors went to Jessica Summers, Self Portrait as Domestic Goddess, oil painting ($500, Israel Abramofsky Award of the Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim); Branden Briggs, Threshold, oil painting ($500, Molly Morpeth Canaday Award); Tom Marino, Crucible Series: Event, ceramic ($200, Toledo Potter’s Guild); Charlyn Reynolds, Crab, hot sculpted glass ($250, Toledo Area Sculpture Guild/Rose M. Reder Memorial Award); Susan Krueger, Guilt Quilt, fiber ($300, University of Toledo art department award); Amber Whitenburg, Tear Catcher, metal ($250, Athena Art Society award); Andrew Kuebeck, We Barely Held It Together, necklace ($200, Lourdes University art department award); Janna Wheeler, Parrhasius Tricked Zeuxis, acrylic painting (Roulet Medal); Leslie Lazenby Hunsberger, When I Grow Up, giclee polaroid ($250, Toledo Friends of Photography); William Petruzzi, Messaggeri, ceramic (Edith Franklin Memorial Award for ceramics); Juliana Clendenin, Paulie, egg tempera on gessoed board (Bob Martin Memorial Award).
Purchased by the Toledo Federation of Art Societies were Andrew Kuebeck’s Nightly Life Saver (espresso server, $1,200), and Jane Vanden Eynden’s Opera House (inkjet-print photo, $350).
Nicole Pelc-Church also received $450 for a purchase award for her acrylic painting, Little Fingers. It will become part of the city of Toledo’s Art in Public Buildings Program, and was selected by the Arts Commission.
Contact Tahree Lane at email@example.com and 419-724-6075.