October 23, 2015

The South Carolina State Fair Fine Art Exhibition: A Closer Look at a Few Works

The South Carolina State Fair this autumn hosted an art exhibition with an exceptional number of exquisite works of photography, paintings, drawings, mixed media works and sculptures. It was a joy to behold. What did not come as a surprise to me was that the special accolades accorded to the juror’s favorites missed most of my own selections. Of course, the sheer number of entries makes it difficult to truly evaluate the merits of the work. This is especially a problem when work is stacked one on top of the other or crowded too close.  When sculptures  that rely upon  negative spaces as a strong compositional component, such as Lee Malerich’s fantastic windows for instance, seen left, are placed in front of other objects, the purpose can be obscured. Imagine a sculpture like this in a setting with other sculptures in front of it and behind it and placed on the floor instead of at eye level.
 I do believe that in the context of crowded spaces, art that is subtle and complex tends to be missed. These are works that require undistracted time and focus in order to truly appreciate.

One such gorgeous yet understated painting was "A Collection of Heirlooms," by Jonathan Moore. At first glance it is merely an aerial view of a mass of tomatoes. But closer inspection reveals a subtle variation in color in every tomato. No two are alike. Any artist knows that sustaining that variation over a number of objects is difficult.

In photography, two works were especially memorable to me: Charles’s Hite’s color photograph "The Blacksmith’s Shop" and a black and white interior by Jo Robbins. Jo Robbins’ work is especially fine, with beautifully rendered textures and details. The work requires looking a while and observing closely so that the interior can reveal its many layered tonalities and richness of patterns. Is there a message to the book on the table that is emblazoned with the name of Rembrandt? And why is there no person napping in the chair when the photograph is entitled "Afternoon Nap?"

Perhaps the most memorable of the photographs in the State Fair exhibition was Charle’s Hite’s "The Blacksmith’s Shop," pictured at right. The photograph required much thought and technical skill to create and therefore requires just as much thought to observe. The artist tell me that the photograph was shot on a "camera bought in 2006, the Olympus E-500." In order to capture the complex scene Mr. Hite tells me that because of the high contrast he used "the HDR technique of capturing five images at five different exposure values ranging from +2.0 down to _2.0 to render the details inside and out as my esyles see it and the way I remember it..not as the camera tells it should look, as all camera systems capture differently."

What I particularly appreciate about "The Blacksmith’s Shop" is that it seems to invite a complex and detailed journey or narrative. The viewer enters the remnants of this architectural gem and is treated to a tactile sensation of rough boards and peeling paint. Traveling through the photograph further a doorway at the back frames a landscape, beckoning the viewer to a portal to another world. It is mesmerizing - almost dream like. This photograph within a photograph could be missed with a cursory view.

This is the last weekend of the South Carolina State Fair. Pick out a few favorites and look at them a long while.

1 comment:

Lee Malerich said...

Thanks for showing my work. This is such an odd exhibition every year. Artists have to close their eyes to the exhibition environment for the chance to win good money, and without a jury fee.