Sunday, August 3, 2008

Columbus Dispatch review

Visitors to the Ohio State Fair might want to take a break from elephant ears and kettle corn for a special treat: the Fine Arts Exhibition. With more than 300 pieces in virtually every medium, the exhibit in the Cox Fine Arts Center offers something for everyone (without calories).

The roster of jurors alone is impressive: Works in the professional division were selected by New York artist Michael Ferris Jr. and Philadelphia media artist Tim Portlock. Ceramist, author and editor Anderson Turner of Kent State University chose works in the amateur division.

All three sought pieces with a clear vision. Some works are conceptual, others straightforward and traditional. Painting and photography dominate, but sculpture and craft-based works are equally well-represented, contributing to an exhibit with surprises around every corner.

Among the best: Josh Foy's trio of ceramic sculptures (Out of Sight, Out of Mind; Catch; and 43078). The large, cylindrical columns resemble scientific core samples examining the debris of human life. Trash, bricks and machine parts are presented as sedimentary-rock layers. At the top of each column, grass grows. The sculptures address the environmental consequences of consumption and how nature tries to heal itself.

Confronting issues of materiality and value, Jaime Bennati's untitled relief sculpture transforms the ordinary into something unexpected and magical. From the front, the piece resembles a large formation of coral. Closer examination reveals that it is constructed of newspaper and glue.

Ardine Nelson's series of three untitled photographs focuses attention on the walls and ceilings of abandoned buildings.

Christopher Werkman's hyper-real still life Artifact With Internally Combustive Capability is a meditation on the reliance on fossil fuels.

Derrick Velasquez's A More Perfect Union looks like a blank wooden plank sealed with clear varnish. As viewers move around the piece, the words "a more perfect union" appear and disappear across the surface. Deceptively simple, the work emphasizes the fragility of democratic ideas.

A critique of the war in Iraq, Joan Tallan's woodcut Mr. Bush's War VI mixes images of soldiers and weapons with the specter of death.

Standout paintings include Robert Tavani's expressionistic still life Heat, Kirill Novikov's impressionistic landscape Winter, Frederick Foctman's intimate interior Black Shirt, Rick Akers' industrial landscape Train Yard, Jeffrey Knick's abstraction A Tangled Mess and Monica Achberger's colorful landscape Road Less Traveled.

The craft-based works are strong as well. Featuring a series of four water towers with different colors and textural patterns, Andrea Stern's quilt Marilyn pays tongue-in-cheek homage to Andy Warhol.

Cynthia Vardhan's porcelain vessels Pink and Red Vase and Blue Fan Bowl are studies in simple beauty and decorative harmony. Exploring natural structures and podlike forms, Carol Snyder's Ravine and Fall combine porcelain with woven patches of grass fiber.

Other strong pieces: Danielle Rante's mixed-media drawing Voynich Secret History, John Freiman's sculpture Anatomy of Saint Paul and Helen Hoffelt's digital photograph Untitled 4 -- Water Memory Series.

• The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition continues through Aug. 10 in the Cox Fine Arts Center of the Ohio Expo Center, I-71 and E. 17th Avenue. Fair admission is $10, or $8 for ages 60 and older and 5 to 12, free for age 4 and younger. Call 614-644-3247 or visit www.

1 comment:

  1. Who were the award winners of this year's exhibition? It was not listed in the article and I would love to know.