National Competition: Works on Paper 2019 at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences

By PAT JOHNSON | Jun 05, 2019
Artwork by: Linda Whitney ‘Red Fancy Shawl Dancer’ mezzotint by Linda Whitney.

Long Beach Township — “The 800 lb Gorilla” painting on paper by Jon Goldman may be a reference to the chilling effect on political discourse in our divided country since the contentious 2016 presidential election, or it could refer to any subject that is difficult to discuss without raising an argument from a friend. However, a close look at David Avery’s “Mendacia Ridicula (The Wheel of Ixion)” etching cuts right to the bone. In the center of the wheel is a KKK-robed Donald Trump spinning into a whirlwind. The warning around the wheel states: “Let the fool absorbed by meaningless fame, whose wildly beating heart lusts after popularity, Take heed from Ixion who, fooled by Zeus, coupled with a dark cloud and bred monsters.”

It’s a wonderful political cartoon in the best tradition of free speech.

The “National Juried Competition: Works on Paper 2019” exhibit at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences through June 23 is sprinkled with a few issues of national commentary – but most of the works are concerned with the inner workings of creative artists from all 50 states.

This is the second Works on Paper exhibit at LBIF for Jill Lear, an artist from Iowa. Last year she won a prize for her abstraction of a tree in landscape, a series she has been successfully working on for a number of years. She titles many of her works with the GPS coordinates of the tree’s location, so “3812’55.25” N 122.15’ 03.25” W” is her title for this year’s selection. Lear’s work is intriguing as she brings to her consideration the history of the tree and the landscape around it. Her beautifully thought-out abstraction includes sensitive lines and sparse color blocks to appeal to contemporary tastes.

R.H. Levinson’s “The Beach House” is a digital drawing including appropriated photo images. It has the same spare architectural feel as Lear’s piece, with much less effort.

Many of the selections made by Louis Marchesano, guest curator of the exhibit (Marchesano is the Audrey and William H. Helfand senior curator of Drawing, Prints and Photography at the Philadelphia Museum of Art), are qualified as “digital works displayed as prints,” in recognition of the computerization of the arts – artists using Think Pads, drawing tools and printers to create images. Ben Cricchi’s “Charity Having a Smoke” appears to be a photograph but has the above disclaimer, as does Jim Pearson’s photo montage “Anonymous Bone Noise Hallowed.”

Susan Baus’ “Rail Riders” combines scanned objects to make a digital collage that is printed.

An illustrator, Richard Chandler Hoff, takes us to a drive-in movie playing “Casablanca” in “One Summer Night,” original done in pencil on paper – but this one has the disclaimer “DWDAP.”

Traditional works on paper include “Who Are You Comparing With?” by Mei Fung Elizabeth Chan. This is a hand-pulled print (not digital) that is an etching in dry point and aquatint. A race by young women is joined by a rabbit and chicken. Above the racers are drooping trumpet lilies. It has the feeling of an illustration for a book but could be a personal narrative meant as a fable for adolescents.

“Red Fancy Shawl Dress” mezzotint by Linda Whitney is a stunning work by a master of the mezzotint. Whitney is professor emeritus in printing at Valley City University in North Dakota, and her series of works celebrating the Native American pow wow has traveled around the country and internationally.

“El Domonino en el Pasada” (The Devil in the Past) intaglio print by Kansas City artist Marco Hernandez is from his series comparing old Mexico and contemporary attitudes about migrants.

Barbara Simcoe’s pastel on paper takes a page from the Surrealists as she dislocates faces and hands in “Who Listens Intimately.”

Traditional painter Jospeh Zapytowski used wax pastels to create “Lake Near Bennington, Vermont.”

Yikui Gu’s mixed media piece, “Feel the Shine,” incorporates a Wonder Bread wrapper and aluminum foil on the paper surface.

A drawing by Christine Miller, “Who let the Dogs Out … Dog Park Hi-Jinx” is a tour-de-force of minute pencil work. What appears at first glance as mounds of lumpy dog poop, on closer inspection includes dog faces and bodies.

“A Stitch in Time” ink drawing by Jane Springwater gets the award for steadiest hand as she has drawn what appears to be a loosely knitted fabric in ink! And an exercise by Jan Urso, “Lines Left Hand and Right Hand,” is a not-so-subtle joke on our presumptions on what art is. If it’s in a frame in an art gallery, it must be.

The opening reception for “National Competition: Works on Paper 2019” is Sunday, June 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

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