Art view       Paulette Thenhaus


Galex 43: The surprises


It's debatable whether the Galex 43 Competition/ Exhibition has as much variety as past years but it does have its own surprises. The first of which is that only twenty-seven artists were selected out of a lot of ninety. Most of them showed two or more artworks. Juror Sean O'Harrow, Executive Director of the Figge Museum, felt that fewer artists and more of their art established the "integrity" of the work. The effect on the walls is to create more of a gallery style look rather than a random competition look.

Other surprises can be found in the awards category. The Grand Award was given to local artist Rob Reed for "Sound of Ice." It is a massive alabaster carving. It's not surprising that it merits the best award but it is surprising that there were only three sculptures shown this year.

The actual Sculpture Award went to "Orange Crusher" by Evansville, Indiana artist Rob Millard­-Mendez. It's a wooden mini bulldozer/tank complete with bucket and topped with a machine gun. Bright orange is its color. Does it crush oranges?

It's no surprise that Galesburg painter Carla Markwart got the Merit Award, but it's not for her familiar representational style but rather for her new direction ... vibrating color stripes within architectural shapes.

It's also surprising to have local artists win two major awards in the Galex national. In fact, six artists from the immediate area are represented ... very unusual. Among them were several photographers, including Tom Foley, Galesburg, Roy Serpa, London Mills and Bridget Gray, London Mills. Nature entered the show mainly through photography, notably Bridget Gray's woodland and water imagery and Serpa's ocean images. D.K. Williams, Denver, Colorado, "Redwoods and light" presents a view of a majestic forest.

Roy Drasites, Chapin, South Carolina, a former Galesburg resident, won the Kent Leasure Memorial award. An odd surprise is that last year he won the Grand Award for a very similar print ... not exactly the same, but similar enough to make me look twice.

Surprisingly, many of the paintings are architectural and hard-edged instead of loose and painterly. An example is the winner of the Award of Excellence, Armin Mühsam, Maryville, Missouri, with a two-part painting on wood. It and the corresponding two paintings are about the geometry and perspective used in the building of architecture. All the lines are clean and precise and the colors are muted.

The last prize winner, Marc Leone, Erlanger, Kentucky, won the Purchase Award with "Crater 1919," graphite on paper. It’s mystery is how the egg-shaped holes were created within a rondo shape. The organic shapes seem to be pulsating in a large-scale petri dish.

A surprising crowd pleaser is a small painting by Mays Mayhew of Bloomingdale, Illinois. "What the F2" is a realistic illustration of an unpleasantly surprised young lady with a streak of red glitz flashing past her. Viewers are intrigued by the technical proficiency and originality in this small work. Sometimes gimmicky works!

So, though there are fewer artists selected to show, there is still plenty to enjoy at the Galesburg Civic Art Center till April 11, 2009.


March 26, 2009