Art Commentary: Second National Juried Art Competition at East End Arts

"Que Sera" by Elena Burham
"Que Sera" by Elena Burham

East End Arts in Riverhead is a gem when bringing the arts (including exhibits and music/theater education) to both the local community and greater Suffolk County. The current art show, the Second National Juried Art Competition, now gives credence to East End Arts that reaches beyond our immediate area.

Among the 65 works in the exhibit, a great many are by local artists, although they do not constitute a majority of the participants. Competition jurors Peter Marcelle and Bruce Helander did a responsible job in selecting diverse work with a focus on theme and technique. Of course, there are probably people who may disagree with the final selections, but that’s to be expected. What’s also expected is the fact that the exhibits here are always well organized by Jane Kirkwood, located in a charming building and surrounded by an equally charming garden.We need to establish more environments like East End Arts.

The show’s theme, “H20” (Water), is an apt one and includes all kinds of fluids, ranging from the ocean and snow to perspiration and tears. One favorite of this critic is “Que Sera” by Elena Burnham where drops of water are positioned on a horse’s head. The black and white work and the worm’s eye view evoke an arresting compositional contrast. Beth Barry’s “ Beach at Louse Point” is another interesting composition created this time with an impasto technique. The paint forms what appears to be a body on the sand. Allan Teger’s photograph, “Seagulls,” literally shows a nude woman lying on the ground, a duck and sail boat in the background. The nude conjures up all sorts of fascinating configurations as does Barry’s work.

Other works where technique and composition are important include Anahi DeCanio’s “Washington Square Park” where a woman appears in silhouette against a white snowy background. The figure itself is blurred, and we are inspired to imagine all types of details. There’s a “twinkling” effect that predominates, also seen in Marcia Anderson’s “Tidal Pools 8.” The black background with gold shells thrown on the ground recalls images by Shelter Island’s Janet Culbertson. Harriette Tsosie’s “Blessed Rain” stresses effective technique and tile-like materials that capture the Southwest setting and perhaps Native American signs.

Win Zibeon’s “Best in Show” work (“Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear”) uses a “trick of the eye” frame, enhancing the image’s literal distortion. It makes us look twice at this unique configuration.

Best in Show by Win Zibeon
Best in Show by Win Zibeon

Conversely, Michael McLaughlin’s “Calm” (First Place Winner) has no distortion, its seascape composed of horizontal lines in perfect symmetry.

Two works that can’t be classified include Alfred Fayemi’s “Jamaica: Cooling Off,” a figurative photograph showing a woman under a waterfall. Her facial expression is particularly articulate; Jerry Schwabe’s watercolor, “Purple Pond,” is equally articulate conveying a spray of water reaching toward the sky.

“H20” will be on view until September 27 at Riverhead’s East End Arts, 133 East Main Street. Call 631-727-0900.

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