Saturday, February 02, 2013

Review: CPSA's 9th Explore This! Exhibition

I'm extremely impressed with the quality of the artwork in this year's Explore This! 9 Exhibition.  It's the best exhibition I've ever seen by CPSA.

Eileen Sorg, CPSA, CPX of Kingston, Washington has won the best of show “EXPY” award of $2,000 (sponsored by Prismacolor) with her intriguing narrative piece in a panoramic format.  

Eileen Sorg, CPSA, CPX (WA) 
“Foiled Again” 
Colored Pencil,Watercolor, Ink 12 x 27 inches
Not for Sale

The Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA) organises this juried competition of mixed-media artwork which focuses on the main medium of colored pencil - and how it can be combined with other art media and surfaces and supports to create fine art.  It's an online exhibition which is available on the website until January 31, 2014.

This year 298 entries were submitted to the exhibition of which 53 were selected for the exhibition and 13 were awarded prizes.

Overall, I noted more originality, more creativity and more artwork which looked like the type of contemporary art which one might expect to see in an art gallery than I think I've ever seen before in any CPSA show.  All the artwork was interesting and went way beyond technical competence in the laying down of colours.  Very little is 'straight' realism, which to my mind swamps the summer show.

It left me wondering whether this is a sea change or whether in previous years more traditional jurors have picked more traditional pieces.  I'd like to hop it's the former.

One thing which struck me is that since the change in rules, it's also very clear that some artists are very likely to focus on this exhibition as Neocolors are now no longer eligible for the International Open in the summer.

The Awards

I think I'm right in saying there are more awards than ever before.  This show is now for certain rivalling the main International Open show for the quality of awards on offer

I took a look at the artwork before reviewing the award winners and I have to say I wasn't at all surprised by either of the two top awards as these were both pieces which prompted me to stop and look longer.  I think it's also very interesting to see how big an impact can be achieved through the use of understated and almost monochromatic colour - particularly when there is a level of content to the artwork which goes beyond keen observation and impeccable technique.

It's also worth noting that both pieces contained humour - and I'm always keen to applaud those who meet the challenge of including humour in a subtle way.

The juror

The juror was Mana Hewitt, the Director of the McMaster Art Gallery and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Art Department of the University of South Carolina. I note she stated
As juror I view myself as an art patron. I asked myself which of these artworks moves me aesthetically, emotionally, viscerally as well as meets the criteria of the CPSA in terms of colored pencil. In selecting the award winners I found that First place and Best in Show, "Foiled Again" by Eileen Sorg, was exceptional in process and content. Sorg skillfully pushed beyond the expected to create a wonderful visual pun. Second place "Spirit Stones" by Deborah Friedman, manipulated transparency, light, and reflection with exceptional skill and good humor. Could those rocks be smiling?
The award winners

The award winners are as follows - the link in the name and the title of the piece is to the artwork.  The artist's website is listed in italics.

EXPY Award and the Prismacolor Best of Show Award $2000
Eileen Sorg, CPSA, CPX - "Foiled Again"
12 x 27 inches colored pencil, watercolor, ink NFS
My work is a visual representation of the stories in my head. I enjoy collecting old objects and weaving a tale around them. Birds are the main conduit for these stories but insects, amphibians, and mammals are also frequent players. The story is really the subject matter of my work, supported by a solid structure of composition and light.
Eileen Sorg
CPSA Great Explorations Award for Exceptional Achievement $1500
Deborah Friedman, CPSA - "Spirit Stones" 
17.5 x 13 inches colored pencil, graphite

Deborah Friedman, CPSA (MA) 
“Spirit Stones” 
Colored Pencil, Graphite 17.5 x 13 Inches
You can see more of Deborah's artwork involving stones in the "Stones" gallery on her website plus you can read about her rock still life drawings on her blog Debbi Friedman's blog

CPSA District Chapters Award for Exceptional Merit $1225
Brenda Raub, CPSA - "The Artist's Thumbprint"
16.5 x 21.5 inches colored pencil, watercolor, ink ground $1,800

CPSA District Chapters Award for Outstanding Recognition $1000
Scott Williams - "Blue Hydrangea in Glass Vase
14 x 18 inches colored pencil, retouched with gouache $4,000

Seattle WA District Chapter 207 Award for Outstanding Recognition $500
Ranjini Venkatachari, CPSA - "Let There Be Light"
18 x 24 inches colored pencil, Neocolor II NFS

Legion Paper Award for Outstanding Recognition $500 product
Arlene Steinberg, CPSA - "Paradise Dreams"
12 x 12 inches colored pencil, Neocolor II, computer, Stonehenge paper $1,800

The Creative Art Materials/Caran d'Ache Award for Excellence $420 product
Amanda Sales - "Courtyard"
20 x 16 inches colored pencil, black, white pen on illustration board NFS

The Derwent Fine Arts Pencils Award for Excellence $350
Daniel Rosen - "Here Are Strangers Near at Hand"
26 x 20 x 2 inches colored pencil on paper collaged on birch panel NFS

The Brunzeel Award for Excellence $300 product
Sherri VanSchaick - "BFFs"
13 x 15.5 inches colored pencil, ink $5,000

The Canson Paper Award for Excellence $300 product
Laura Fantini - "Similar Features (11)"
38 x 29 inches colored pencil, ink background, on illustration board $8,000

Dixon Ticonderoga/Lyra Award for Excellence $300 product
Elliott Everson, CPSA - "Steppin' Out"
8 x 8 inches colored pencil, colored grout on sanded Travertine stone $450

The Staedtler Award for Excellence $300 product
Brett Strother - "In through the Outside"
19 x 25 inches, colored pencil, gouache, micro pen $600

The Tombow Award for Excellence $300 product
Cristina Iotti - "Gravitazione Universale #6"
19.7 x 19.7 inches, colored pencil, graphite on paper $1,500

PS I don't I've ever seen two Italian artists (as in Italian websites) in the awards list for a coloured pencil exhibition before.

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1 comment:

  1. Oh what a fabulous painting that just sings to me! Thank you for showing it, Katherine!


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