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November 02, 2012
Vol. 54 No. 8

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Gallery welcomes artists to annual competition

FIGURE IT OUT
The Crusader/Kacy Reece
FIGURE IT OUT - Mississippian Aynslee Moon's oil painting "The Garden," which won second place in the Figurative Painting and Drawing Competition.
The Crusader/Kacy Reece
Onlookers take in the numerous entries entered in the fourth annual Figuartive Painting and Drawing Competition during the Oct. 27 opening reception.
The Lore A. Degenstein Gallery's fourth annual Figurative Painting and Drawing Competition exhibition opened on Oct. 27. This year's juror, Amy Freeman, handed out the awards and spoke about the various pieces during the opening reception.

The Figurative Drawing and Painting Competition is a national competition open to two-dimensional figurative artists over the age of 18. Artists submit contemporary figurative paintings, drawings and print-makings to be selected and judged.

Freeman, a figurative painter who currently teaches painting and drawing at the University of Florida, said that she struggled with the prize placement decisions. "Artists have a lot of bias," she said, "I tried not to be biased."

The first place prize went to Kelly Blevins, of Pittsburgh, for "Self III." The charcoal on paper drawing could be seen as potentially controversial, Freeman said, because it is a nude self-portrait drawn on a large piece of paper.

"That's really gutsy to do a portrait this big," Freeman said. The portrait was placed on the back side of one of the walls, and Freeman said she thought it was placed there because if it was on the front side, the people walking by "would stop, stare and never leave."

Mississippian Aynslee Moon's oil painting "The Garden" took second place. It shows two young women, one standing and one sitting, in the middle of a garden. "It has a strange mood to it," Freeman said. "This is very obscure. What the heck are these girls doing in the garden?" Freeman praised the vibrant color palate and the use of the two women, placed close together, as the focal point.

Third place went to "Loretta Marble" by Emily Blocker, a charcoal drawing of an older woman sitting in a chair in her house. Freeman liked how Blocker used the entire space to define the character. She said this piece moved her because the woman in the painting was a stranger, yet she felt welcomed into the woman's home.

Freeman also spent some time discussing some of the other pieces. "I could talk about all of them," she said. "There's a lot of work I'm moved by because I could never have done it."

Other paintings caught Freeman's interest because the artists did things with their pieces that Freeman herself said she wouldn't have. These include using colors straight out of the tube, using only two figures as a focal point and including a cell phone in the artwork.

"There are formal things you try to teach people for good painting," Freeman explained, "and a beginner, an amateur, will try to do things they shouldn't. So you tell them 'don't do it.' There are rules. In education, there are sets of rules and you break them. They broke them, and they did it well because they knew what the rules were."

Some of the artists whose work was selected attended the opening reception, including Ohio native John McKaig. McKaig said he was "pleasantly surprised" to have his charcoal and pastel drawing, "Elegy for Andrew Witkin 6," chosen for the show.

"For me, the figure has the best sense of empathy," he said of figurative painting. "Everyone has different experiences and different baggage attached to the figure. It's something I've always been interested in, even on a nuts and bolts level."

Senior Emilie Reed said she thought the gallery featured some "pretty strong pieces." Her favorite, she said, was Candice Flewharty's "Hot Busy People."

"I like the use of color and the brush strokes are really impressive," she said of the piece. "It uses the more abstract brush strokes but it's very realistic."

The Figurative Painting and Drawing Exhibition will be open from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily through December 7 in the Lore A. Degenstein Gallery.

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