Art Review

The 42nd Juried Exhibition offers a feast for the eyes and the mind  

Inside the Lyndon House Arts Center comes a wide array of artworks from the Athens area for the 42nd Juried Exhibition. Juror, Susan Krane, of the San Jose Museum of Art. Krane had the task of curating 797 submissions down to the 168 works on display with the goal of choosing art pieces that stood out above the status quo of just being visually appealing. After attending the exhibition, I can confidently say Krane achieved their mission. The artworks were infused with sentiment from oil paintings that told a narrative, to photographs offering interesting insights into the world, and even one person’s admiration for the film, Rocky, which, to be fair, is a great movie.

One artistic voice that caught my attention was Wade Sheldon through his work, “NOLA”, a color photograph print. The photo depicts a black man walking down a street in New Orleans wearing an all-white suit with a hat and tie decorated like the American flag. The man is holding onto a leash attached to a puppy that appears to have a cigar in his mouth, and the puppy is looking at a bucket with dollar bills attached to it. Meanwhile, the bystanders on the street are either staring at the man or are going about their day. From the outset, this photograph is just plain bizarre. However, I think it speaks to the spirt of New Orleans, in that I can’t imagine this photo taking place anywhere else. The multicolored buildings, the interesting character, and the strange scenario itself reflects a funny, almost festive atmosphere which fits a city that’s known for its Mardi Gras celebration.

On a more serious note, Cameron Bliss’ “I wish we could go back”, an oil painting, ask us to imagine a life. The painting features two teenage girls sitting on a titled bathroom floor and a blue titled background with each tile having its own design. One girl has long, black hair, is wearing a blue coat, fishnet stockings and gray boots. While the other girl has shorter hair in a bob cut fashion and is wearing nothing but a black dress with gray stripes. When looking at the girls, you notice how they have wireframe physiques giving the impression that they are malnourished. Also, considering the heavy use of makeup and the tight clothing, I imagined a scenario that these two girls are homeless and must sell their bodies to feed themselves. Perhaps, they are in the bathroom getting ready for another night. When staring into the eyes of the blue coat woman, you can’t help but imagine that these two women have a difficult life. They are wishing to go back to a simpler time before the world took their innocence away.

Finally, there was one piece that brought about a feeling of nostalgia from me. M Anteau, “It Came from Outer Space”, is an ink and photoshop piece that resembles two comic book pages. The story within the comic pages addresses you, as the viewer takes on the persona of a teenaged boy.  On the first page, the narrator makes the argument that you are trying to bury yourself into a world of light and sound to distract from your aimless life.  On the second page, the narrator basically tells you to leave behind the mundane aspects of life and embrace the unknown when it’s calling your name.

The colors in this piece are captivating as the world is saturated in cool colors like blues and greens except for the main character who is covered in warmer colors like reds and oranges. The characters are drawn in simple, geometric shapes with thick outlines giving them this cartoony look. The only thing I can compare this art style to is the work of Ryuta Ueda, the art director for the video game Jet Set Radio, a game I played in my youth. The work evokes a punk, rebel- against-the-machine attitude that permeated my favorite pieces of media in the early 2000s. Does a 22-year-old man have the right to feel nostalgic about the past?

The fact that I left the 42nd Juried Exhibition with my mind racing with different thoughts and feelings is a testament to the pieces on display and the hard work of Krane. This review only scratches the surface of what the 42nd Juried Exhibition has to offer. If you want to see work deemed worthy by Krane, then pay attention to any merit award winners, my personal favorites include Hannah Ehrlich’s “After & Therefore Because” and Phoebe Szymanski’s “Searching.” The Exhibition is running from March 23 to May 6 and it’s free to the public.