Art association judged show features surprises

By Page H. Gifford

After 44 years of judged shows, the Fluvanna Art Association (FAA) has evolved into a creative force of varied artists, styles and mediums. Once a vehicle for a few local artists to display their paintings, it now features photography, 3D, drawing, mixed media and is still growing. The expanding number of artists makes the work difficult to judge, as it is all so varied, creative and executed in different ways.

“It was difficult to choose in each category,” said judge Laura Foussekis of the Louisa Arts Center.

Every year the members are surprised by the praise their work garners, yet they indulge in praising their fellow artists. One such artist is Virginia Plisko, who won first in Intermediate. After disappointment in past shows and little recognition for her work, it almost felt as if Plisko would give up trying to win an elusive ribbon. Her Summer Shower was revolutionary, breaking Plisko out of her comfort zone. Foussekis admitted she was so taken by Plisko’s piece she almost got Best in Show.

“I love the detail; it is more abstract and creates movement,” said Foussekis. The soft watercolor figures with umbrellas in the rain faded into an impressionistic calm much the way people feel in a warm summer rain. Plisko certainly nailed the mood with her choice of medium and colors, turning it into a stunning piece.

Three dimensional (3D), which is a relatively new category, is usually dominated by men, but high school senior Adora Gamage sneaked by them to win third for her wire spider. “Interesting use of wire,” said Foussekis.

In first place Tom Ellis won for Citation 1948,the Triple Crown winner and jockey in vivid color and glory. Todd Mathes won second for his Organic Mechanical, an imaginative offbeat piece flawlessly executed. Honorable mention went to Luke Mathes, Todd’s son, with his soccer balls made out of various woods.

Novice was a small category so no one lost out on a ribbon. Guinevere Gamache won first and third in the category for her musical notes floating in air and Stripey,which is based on the rhythms in music. Second went to newcomer Cindy Stenz for Extreme Doodling,full of detailed patterns and colors.

Moving on to Intermediate, following Plisko’s win was Janet Rugari for her scratch board of Ginger. Foussekis commented on the realism of the piece seen in the detail of the bristling hair and the wetness of the nose. Rugari talked about the painstaking detail.

“After I completed it I had frozen shoulder,” Rugari laughed. Anyone who draws often or does this type of detailed work knows it is possible. Linda Mullin followed in third with Floating, done in alcohol ink with abstract pops of color glowing into one another.

Others who received honorable mentions were Brenda Aluisi for her Sleeping Fox, Nancy Shaffer for Serenity, and Carmen Gonzales for Bluebird.

In Advanced, Betty Scholl took first for her abstract impressionistic Dusk in Shadows. “Her dark and lights move your eye around the painting,” said Foussekis.

In second place was Page Gifford for Geishas. Foussekis commented that like Scholl’s work, the eye moved around the work without settling on one focal point. She added she liked the artist’s sparing use of bright color and the attention to detail.

Windy Payne won third with her landscape Afternoon Sky. Thesoft colors and puffy clouds had a serene effect. Maria Carter received an honorable mention for her abstract dragonfly. Carter continues to experiment with abstraction and different ways to paint with great success. Newcomer Nance Stamper also pulled out a win with Uncle Eddie’s Shed, impressing the judge with her vibrant colors and deep shadows. October by the Channel,a pastel by Kathy Scott, also got a thumbs up from the judge and an honorable mention. “I don’t work in watercolors and pastels and love to see what other artists create in these mediums,” Foussekis said.

In the Master’s category, Linda Bethke took first for her watercolor on canvas,Song of Ascent. Foussekis commented on Bethke’s soft edges and shadows, which allowed the eye to fill in areas. Second was Debbie Burke with Morning Light.Foussekis pointed out the subtle background and highlights and her skill at painting transparent glass, which can be difficult when creating realism. Paul Stams took third for his photograph of a butterfly in Tenacity.Foussekis, unlike past judges, was able to choose winners among all competing mediums. If a composition was worthy of attention then it didn’t matter if it was photography or watercolor or colored pencil, she said. How the subject was represented mattered.

Foussekis liked the detail in William Snow’s Rough and Reddy, a watercolor featuring an old pickup truck, and gave him an honorable mention. Janie Prete also got an honorable mention for her Runaway Soul, done in her signature abstract blended and faded watercolors, featuring half a portrait which Foussekis found unique. “Interesting technique for a portrait, leaving some exposed,” said Foussekis.

She liked Shari Cook Schlickbernd’s Farming Hills for its spot-on skill in perspective and architecture of the farm buildings and awarded her an honorable mention. And last but not least was another newcomer, Christine Kidd, whowon an honorable mention for her realistic celestial fantasy portrait of performer Laura Daigle.

Pastel artist Lorraine Momper finally won Best in Show for her beautiful garden scene Color Burst. Foussekis chose Momper’s work for its diagonal lines that draw the eye into the picture, its clean and well-executed perspective, and its interesting details. Momper’s work evokes a peaceful moment in the garden. The onlooker feels the sensation of climbing the steps toward something unseen but lovely.


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