The Arts Council of York County hosted an awards reception in honor of the 25th Annual Juried Competition on Thursday, August 14, where the winners were announced. Greenville-based artist and teacher, Marty Epp-Carter served as juror for this year's competition. She was in-attendance at the reception, where she presented each winner with their award, offering invaluable nsight into what drew her to each piece. The following is a transcript of her remarks:
I’d like to thank the York County Arts Council for giving me the opportunity to jury this show. And I’d like to thank Mike Gentry for making this as painless as possible through his timely communication and his organization skills. It was a seamless process.
Jurying a show, either from digital images or from the work itself, is for me an exercise in focus, judgement, and of course, personal aesthetics. It’s important for any artist, and I include myself in that group because I’ve been on the other side many times, to realize that juried shows are not necessarily a record of the best work in that particular area or region. Rather, they are a record of the intersection of submitted work and the juror’s taste and expectations regarding art.
So, I’ll talk a bit about my expectations, or rather what I am looking for when I jury a show. I can’t really list all this in any order of importance or preference; I’m looking for all of this at the same time, but not necessarily in the same piece.
I like work that surprises me by the way the medium is used.
I like obsessiveness and keen attention to detail. Sometimes the work shows these qualities, sometimes it demands it of me as the viewer.
I like work that shows a kind of transformation, changing a familiar space to create something new.
I admire and respect extreme skill in handling material.
I am excited by both sides of the same coin. One side is intentionality where I can almost hear the decision making process, and the other side is the moment of pause and observance when something unexpected happens and is allowed to remain. (Which becomes intention after the fact.)
In light of all this, choosing the work for this show was a difficult process. So many pieces could have fit into these parameters. I then erred on the side of surprising use of color and a few surprises that I had not set out to find. I am so happy with this show and the effort with which Mike Gentry installed the work. Seeing the 38 pieces in person, I sense that they are installed in a way that begs investigation on the part of the viewer and makes links between the works themselves. I think that every piece in this show is a strong piece of art sitting squarely in the midst of the contemporary art dialogue in South Carolina. It was my honor to bring this work together for this show.
With this in mind, then, here are the pieces that I feel deserve even more recognition.
The honorable mentions go to:
Coleman Tharpe for his photograph Franco Fontana Full Color. Tharpe captures a precise moment that many of us would miss. He points to these moments and says: “Look! Take this in, not just in passing but with attention and thought.” The painterly and gestural qualities of the graffiti exist in sharp contrast to the poster on the trash bin. (if that is what that is) The power of found-color is clearly expressed in this picture.
Rebecca Jacobs for her Van Dyke print from the series Torching Water. Jacobs uses a traditional photo technique to represent a timeless image of the human form. There is an eerie stillness to the pose that makes use of the technique. The form is still, the hands poised just about to move, but not while the atmosphere seems to hover almost like fog or mist.
Josiah Copley created a machine, Something About Mechanized Production, that is both funny and intriguing in it’s simplicity and quasi-functionality. This is a piece that invites the viewer to put it to use and it’s really not complete without the viewers’ participation.
3rd place goes to Will Johnson’s Tripenta a word that I looked up and found no meaning for, so I have to refer to the work for the meaning. This is a piece in which I could get lost, going on my own trip into the details. The mark-making that makes up the menagerie of objects, some familiar, some not, is obsessive and clearly time consuming. Johnson combines his own drawn world with what appears to be a digital version of the solar system, combining the vast with the minute in one fell-swoop.
2nd place goes to Lee Sipe, Vessel No. 362. This wire sculpture defies logic. At first glance it is solid and sturdy and aggressive in it’s redness. Upon closer inspection, the delicate manner in which it is made reveals the process and the hand of the maker. Sipe has taken a material, a lowly, thin wire, and transformed it into an object much bolder than it’s roots.
1st place goes to Mike Henry for Bryce Canyon. This work is small in size, but grand in idea and place. First of all, consider Bryce Canyon...we think large, deep, variegated natural rock formations, but Henry handles it as though it is a miniature, aboriginal painting, made to meditate on browns and greens. This painting gives the viewer a gift if you just give it enough time. Upon very close inspection, Henry has covered each distinct area of color with tiny dots of a nearly similar color. However, this is not a mindless covering of dots. Instead, his choices are clear, as some of the color block areas remain dot-free, and thus hold fast to the flatness that the dots disrupt.
Best of Show goes to Robert O. Keith IV, for his painting Findlay and James. Keith commands my attention, not only by the size of this piece, (obviously, I don’t pick only large work), but because of the space he creates within the piece. I am captivated by the suggestions of a room, of a floor and fallen timbers. The shadows, cast by a light source outside of the picture plane, create the illusion of depth without familiar tricks of perspective. Keith juggles colors and shapes, depth and flatness with a confidence and energy that hold together in this piece while holding my interest and curiosity as well.