September 29, 2010

Fair Weather

Nothing can be finer than a fair in Carolina. Even if it has been raining and overcast for two days.

Last year around this time I was a juror for the Mosaic Arts International exhibition held in Chicago. This year I was the juror for the Fine Arts Exhibition at the Orangeburg County Fair. The two jurying experiences could not have been more different. One was highly competitive, international and executed on line. The other was the real time exuberant expression of a local community where everyone wins a place. Although the international exhibition was more prestigious, the local one was more warm-hearted. They were both great experiences in their own way.

There is no greater joy for me in the autumn season than the fairs of South Carolina. The Orangeburg County Fair is a particularly fine one. Since Orangeburg County is largely agrarian, there are no shortages of exotic livestock, plants, fruits and prize vegetables on display. I saw rows upon rows of arfully canned fruits. There were painted goats, angora chickens, roasters with bold stripes of gold and black. There were chickens that sported long thin spikes of white feathers on top of their heads which made them look like Andy Warhol. There was a large deer-like creature which I could not even identify.

Of particular interest to me was the annual exhibition of fine hand sewn quilts. There are seven quilting guilds in Orangeburg County alone, so I was told, which might account for the quilt exhibition taking up one entire building. I have not seen such a fine exhibition of quilts even on the state level so Orangeburg County must be the place to go for afficionados of this art form. It was such a stunning display that I immediately went back to my studio and painted two examples of big cats in quilt form to see if I could manage the style. They could not compare with the great color sense of the quilt makers but at least I gave it a try.

What I found when I juried the fine arts exhibition at the Orangeburg County Fair was that there were more categories of art than there were submissions to fill them. This made some of my choices a little two easy; first and second place, for instance for the two submissions to the category of professional mixed media art. I did take an exquisitely painted miniature icon from the advanced mixed media category and put it into the category of miniature painting, for which there were no entries. I made a note to myself here to enter my own miniature paintings next year.

If the quality of the student art at the fair was any indication, then I was heartened by what appeared to be very hard working art teachers in this county. The oil pastels were especially well executed - with rich colors and details lovingly done.

What a feast of colors, sounds and sights the fair was as the displays were going up! I’m looking forward to going back at least twice with my camera and a sketch book.

No comments: