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16 AAG Members in BRAC Juried Show

The 2022 Juried Exhibition at the Blue Ridge Arts Center (BRAC) in Seneca opened on Jan. 21 and runs through Feb. 26. The juror was Steven Chapp.

Sixteen Anderson Artists Guild members had pieces selected for the show: Evelyn Beck, Larry Bennett, Debbie Bzdyl, Wendy Converse, Melody Davis, Diane DeMont, Michelle Fowler, Sharon Jacobs, Julie Lamp, Hamed Mahmoodi, Mary Cooper McDonough, Donna O’Hara, Yvonne Park, Karen Powell, Lori Solymosi, and Diana Walter.

Three AAG members won awards. Melody Davis won the $1000 Best in Show award for Dr. I Wenliang, Wuhun 2019. Lori Solymosi won the $500 second place award for Yesteryear. Wendy Converse won a $50 Honorable Mention award for Bot the First. Here are their reflections about their pieces:

Melody Davis’ Dr. I Wenliang, Wuhun 2019 (acrylic)

“This painting is one of eight in a series that has been accepted into the 2022 Artfields Competition in Lake City called “The First Surge.” The inspiration was based on selfies posted on Instagram by front-line health workers during the initial surge of COVID 19. One was Dr Li Wenliang, who blew the whistle about the burgeoning virus in Wuhan and was imprisoned in his home until he had to be transported to the hospital, where he ultimately died. I endeavored to present the physical and emotional damage that was sustained during this time period when vaccines were a dream and relief was not in sight for first providers. The eyes were the focus, and it was a continuous struggle to adequately convey the humanitarian impact of the pandemic in each of the eight portraits.”

For the juror, Davis succeeded. He said that this piece “tells an all too familiar story in which the scale and in your face presentation literally forces us to consider the reality of the scenario. The sheer scale of the large face and the expressive eyes communicate the sense of urgency. I cannot help but think what has been observed with those eyes.”

Lori Solymosi’s Yesteryear (mixed media)

“My piece was inspired by a vintage photograph of a milk bar in London from about 1954. (Milk bars were the Starbucks of the 1950’s.) In the U.S. they were ice cream parlors. I am drawn to narrative images that evoke thought. I imagined the universality of teens connecting after school and how through the years this has changed. I tend to do a good bit of research on imagery and forget if this image was part of my “milk metaphors” series or my “women in hats” collection. I love the hats these girls are wearing. I love to read about how fashion trends have evolved. For example, why did Yankee Doodle stick a feather in his cap? In other words, when the particular lyrics “stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni” were added to the Yankee Doodle song, the author was essentially saying that colonists were such low-class, moronic fools that they thought by sticking a simple feather in their hats, they were being extremely refined. I find it interesting that what began as an insult became national pride. I have been using the feather motif in my work lately juxtaposed to leaf images and enjoy substituting shadow images for leaf shapes. Feathers have such symbolism; they just add to the underlying interest of the image for me.

“One of the challenges I had in this piece was the dark background. I wanted it to be interesting and have depth. When I was 85% done, I masked off areas and taped stencils down and sprayed black artist spray paint on it, It was a bold move but just what I needed to make some darks very dark. I was then free to finish it with glazes and mark making to add the depth and mood I was seeking.”

Wendy Converse’s Bot the First (stoneware clay)

“This piece, which fired in an anagama wood kiln in Pendleton for three days, was a new direction for me. I had been making very organic, free-form work, so this gave me a chance to tighten and refine some skills. I have always loved robots and thought they would be a fun challenge. This piece was assembled from soft clay slabs, then textured, stacked, manipulated, and allowed to dry before firing, glazing, and firing a second time in a wood kiln. One of the challenges in this process is to know when is the perfect time for each step in the process. Too soon and it will slump or collapse. Too late and the pieces risk stress cracks. And even if you manage the whole build process well, there is always the chance the kiln will not be agreeable. So when a piece makes it through the whole process unscratched, it is time to celebrate!”

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