Noted music and restaurant reviewer Bernard Jacobson, show below viewing Everything All The Time by Harold Nelson of Port Townsend, gives us his review of the 2013 CVG Show.
Reminder: First Friday Artwalk is tonight
The CVG Show 2013
Reviewed by Bernard Jacobson
If the first question we ask ourselves, in judging the merit of a work of art, is "What was the artist aiming to create?" and the second is "How well was the aim achieved," the third may well be: "Was the effort worth it?" For myself, I am inclined to expand on that third question by changing it to: "Would the world be a poorer place if this work did not exist?" That is not to suggest that a worthwhile piece must necessarily deal with cosmic issues-simply that any painting, sculpture, photograph, or what you will, whether serious or light-hearted, needs to add to the sum of human enjoyment if it is to engage my enthusiasm.
Of the 127 works on display in the CVG Show, 2013 edition, there were twenty that had me answering my own portentous question in the affirmative, which may be taken to imply that, once again, this is a show well worth a visit-or even, if like me you can only absorb a limited number of artistic messages at one time, repeated visits. Interestingly, the success rate seemed to me highest in the category of "photo/digital art," where 27 pieces on display yielded eight that made my personal final cut. Of 72 exhibits in the other "2 dimensional art" category, it was similarly eight out of 28 that I really liked, and I picked four of the 28 "3 dimensional" pieces.
Interestingly again, none of my own choices coincided with any of the first-place winners selected by the various "official" choosers and listed on the gallery's web site-proof again, if any such be needed, that critical judgement is an essentially subjective business. Judgements, after all, are made by people, and echoing what George Bernard Shaw asserted in his music-critic days, I am happy to declare that "I never penned an objective criticism in my life, and I trust I never may."
So, then, what did this particular person enjoy most? Among the photographic entries, Janette Ryan's "Reclamation" and Pam Walker's "Ancient Doorway" are both skillfully composed and impeccably realized. Merle Jones offers a neat riff on a fairly familiar idea with "Constellations." "The Village Band," by Janthina DuSavage, is full of life. Damon Edwards's "Light (at the end of the tunnel)" and Matthew Worden's "First and Last Chance" both draw strong atmospheric effect from the core of the photographic medium, light itself. Jean Burnett's "Cat on a Fence," quite apart from its inevitable appeal to an ailurophile like me, is expertly shot and, apparently, "enhanced." And "Between the Lines," by Robert Dash, exploits contrast of visual textures with a mastery not evident in another photograph similar in conception.
My personal winners among the 3-dimensional pieces included C. Peltz's subtly imaginative "Agoraphobia" and Margaret Murch's well-observed "Glacial Expression"-artists' chosen titles don't always seem to enhance or even really fit the works they are attached to, but this one did. The other two entries in this category that I found especially attractive were Rachel Dorn's nicely imagined "Gears" and Anita Feng's no less witty and highly individual "Balding Buddha with Goatee," which takes an iconic subject and turns it on its (bearded) head.
Witty again, in the remaining "2 dimensional" category, were Deborah Scott's gently satirical "Postnuptial" and Naoko Morisawa's seemingly conventional but actually neatly subversive "Illusionist." For the second year in a row, I found William Walcott's work-this time "Fruit in a Crystal Bowl"-by some margin the best of the still-life offerings. I can't say I particularly liked Jonelle Johnson's "Self Portrait in Oakland," but its very personal and offbeat character compelled admiration.
Richard Fourbears, with "What's Inside?", Newel Hunter, with "Clandestine," and Janie Olsen, with her beautifully executed "Innocent Thieves," all brought impressive technique to bear on perhaps less individualistic subjects. And-again for the second year running-Harold Nelson bowled me over: his virtuoso (and aptly titled!) paper collage, "Everything All the Time," was preeminently the piece in the show that I could look at for hours on end, continually finding neat and amusing new details, while at the same time its overall composition has a clarity and rightness about it that seems but can hardly have been effortless.