The CVG Show 2012
Reviewed by Bernard Jacobson
The range of quality, in this year's juried show, seems to be considerably wider in the field of painting than in other media. That is to say, while most of the three-dimensional pieces and most of the photography maintain a high standard of both technique and communicative content, the two-dimensional work on CVG's walls reveals a considerable gulf between really impressive pieces and others that I frankly don't understand the juror's having selected. This, actually, harmonizes with the feeling I've always had when viewing television programs like Antiques Roadshow: why is it that paintings of very moderate quality are always tagged with prices out of all proportion to the relatively modest amounts that even the finest pieces of furniture are expected to fetch?
Still, I don't intend to waste your reading time by enumerating the works I didn't like. It's more important to celebrate the beauty, skill, and often depth of feeling the best artists in the show have brought to their work and to our eyes. My favorite painting was William Walcott's "Outdoor Still Life," a study of pitchers and the like painted with stunning skill, and flooded with the sort of luminous quality that makes it seem illuminated from behind. Another top entry for me was-perhaps not surprisingly-one of the smallest paintings in the show: Jennifer Frohwerk's "Anteroom," just nine inches square, but evoking in its graceful portrayal of a young woman gazing out of a window a real sense of character that grew on me the longer I looked at it. The other two-dimensional works that spoke to me most winningly were "Perpetually Coy," a characteristically elegant graphite drawing by Anna Hoey; "Tightrope Walker," an economical and playful exploitation of mixed-media resources by MaLynda Poulsen-Jones; and, as an outstanding source of sheer fun, Harold Nelson's brilliantly conceived and executed paper collage, "Building the Museum of the Color White." Two-dimensional also, though grouped in the separate "photograph art" category, was another fascinating small piece, a digital color photograph illustrative of the principal that the less color you use the stronger, often, is the result: this was "Stone Staircase," by Paula Suter, a powerfully atmospheric study that was almost Rembrandt-esque in its dark intensity.
The stand-outs for me in the three-dimensional field were Ned Block's superbly smooth and elegant resin, steel, and bronze "Lorelei"; Robert Gigliotti's cast bronze "Cyclist," with its amusing subtraction of just those elements that would actually hold both bicycle and rider together; Maureen Wall's "Heads of State-Karl," compounded of cedar, sea sponges, and found metal, which on sustained contemplation exerted a baleful fascination appropriate to the nowadays somewhat downgraded segment of humanity it portrayed; Marilynn Gottlieb's clever little "Lost Art," which revealed charming vignettes, digitally transferred to metal, when the viewer lifted a series of frames from a box; and Margaret Murch's ceramic and acrylic "Leda's Daughter," the long neck of its subject wittily alluding to Jupiter's impersonation of a swan when he came to woo the lady.
Aside, then, from half a dozen paintings and one or two photographs that I thought were in over their heads, this show was another absorbing demonstration of the artistic talent that is evidently flourishing in all corners of Washington state.