The ninth annual international juried exhibit Au Naturel: The Nude in the 21st Century will be on display from January 22 through March 5, 2015 at Clatsop Community College’s Art Center Gallery located at 1799 Lexington Avenue, Astoria, OR. Gallery hours are from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. The gallery is open on Sundays and holidays by appointment only. A reception honoring the selected artists will be held on Thursday, January 29, at 6:00 pm.
This year's juror, Barbara Shaiman, an independent curator and art consultant based in Seattle, will be present to give a gallery talk. Barbara Shaiman was the artistic and managing Director of the Seattle Art Museum’s SAM Gallery for 24 years. She left a year ago to spend more time on personal curatorial projects and art consulting as well as doing her own artwork. Among other projects, she currently is Curator at the Alexis Hotel. Barbara also devotes time to jurying community art exhibits, participating in public art panels, advising local arts organizations and helping clients with collection management. Before joining the SAM staff, Barbara taught studio art classes in NYC at Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Museum Art School, at Hawthorne Studio in Montana, and in the Seattle area at Seward Park Arts Center and Bellevue College. She was also a working ceramic artist and the owner/director of Shaiman Gallery, a local contemporary fine crafts and design gallery.
Awards to be announced at the reception include cash prizes, purchase awards, a solo show award to be held during the 2015-2016 exhibition season, and a select number of workshop awards. The Bridgewater Bistro and Dairy Maid are providing hors d’oeuvres for the event, and Erikson Floral Company and Bloomin’ Crazy Floral are providing flowers. This reception is free and open to the public. The College also thanks the Cannery Pier Hotel, the Commodore Hotel, and the Ft. George Brewery for their support.
A No-Host Post-Reception party at the Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro, 243 11th Street in downtown Astoria, will immediately follow the reception.
This year, artists from 28 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada, Turkey, New Zealand, and South Africa submitted over 500 images for consideration. The 2015 exhibit will represent 41 artists from 14 states in addition to an international artist from South Africa. Please note that the artist from South Africa will be represented in the online 2015 gallery only.
Juror Barbara Shaiman states, “It was a great pleasure to serve as the juror for 2015 Au Naturel competition and to see such a variety of compelling and high quality work interpreting the theme of the nude. It was difficult to narrow down such a large group to the 56 pieces I eventually chose in order to create a coherent exhibit. My task as I saw it was to choose work that was both excellent and representative rather than to attempt to create an exhibit with a particular point of view.”
Paring down the artwork from among the hundreds of images is an extremely difficult task. Each year, a different juror is invited to select the work for the show, and each juror brings his or her own unique perspective and approach to the selection process. "My curatorial approach is affected by my background as a working studio artist and instructor of studio courses, as well as the many years I have worked as a gallery director. For me the visual is primary, and then comes attention to concept and execution. When I choose artists for an exhibit or jury a show, I look for artwork that has strong visual appeal and is rooted in ideas I find compelling, stimulating and challenging,” explains Shaiman. “I also look for work that in some way pushes boundaries, reflects a unique vision, or pushes the medium in different areas. The work should be technically proficient, experimental and passionate about its subject matter. None of the works chosen fit all of these criteria of course, but they all meet at least a few.”
Seattle artist Cynthia Yatchman, who typically works with various combinations of acrylic paint, ink, papers, charcoal and canvas, was invited to exhibit her mixed-media piece called Carapaces. Yatchman enjoys the process of “creating a rich sensual surface by making layer upon layer of marks,” and describes her work as possessing “an unseen history within these layers as images are obscured and revealed.” While the subject matter of her work references her “experience with nature,” she explains that the content of her work often “speaks to issues of social justice, revelation and connection and how we are all one.”
Portland artist Reed Clarke, also a part-time resident in Gearhart, has been invited for the fifth time to exhibit his work in the Au Naturel. Clarke points out that while his two oil paintings selected for the show entitled Apparition Number Four and Woman Standing With Man may be considered by some to be portraits, the design elements such as line, tone, color, shape, and form are equally as important as the subject matter in any work of art. “It took me a long time to become aware of how painting people/figures sets up the need to solve certain types of problems encountered in the act of painting,” he admits. “I hope to find some solutions to these problems that I can feel are authentically mine. What I hope to achieve is work that transcends the fact that the painting has a subject and exists simply as a good painting.”
James McComas of Superior Colorado, who has exhibited in the Au Naturel several times, explores design concepts in his paintings from the standpoint of the fascinating relationship between visual art and music. “I perceive art as a visual melody, which can be as simple as a song, or as complex as a symphony,” he states. “Somewhere in the music - in the image - is an expression of the human condition, be it narrowly focused or grandly sweeping. Along those lines, I see the role of the figure in my art much as the role a dancer plays in a ballet: profoundly moving in and of itself, yet a cohesive part of a larger story.”
Seattle artist Chris Sheridan looks to the past for inspiration in “early myths, traditional folklore, the histories, and the classics.” At the very heart of his work is storytelling, which he describes as “the foundation upon which my paintings are built,” and further explains that in every one of his paintings that he creates, “every element has symbolic meaning that supports that story.”
Portland artist Patrick Kernan has also been selected to exhibit his artwork in the Au Naturel multiple times. Kernan creates all of his work from observation directly from life, and counts painting the human figure among one of his greatest passions. Rather than focusing on accuracy as his main goal, he believes his work is successful if the artwork “becomes a journal of my observations, emotions and reactions to the model, at the specific, shared, moment in time.”
The rigorous discipline of drawing and painting from figure models in the studio directly from life has also been a passion of artist Patrick Deshaye of Hillsboro, Oregon. Deshaye maintains that for him this practice embodies everything worthwhile about the process of art-making, which includes “centuries of tradition, an endless array of media and techniques, a subject of overwhelming expressive potential...what's not to love?” He describes his oil painting entitled The Model, Death and the Inferno as a “playful hommage to the figure studio model and her inevitably ironic environment.”
On the other hand, Nicole Jeffords of Austin, TX works from a photographic reference since for her, “a live sitter’s energy would be too much.” She describes her process as a slow and silent dialogue that progresses “until bit by bit a picture emerges, almost as if a channel opens and the person steps forward, allowing me to see some part of them that is real and true. In that way, hopefully, the painting becomes revelation.”
Further information about the 2015 exhibiting artists will be available online at the Au Naturel website after January 22nd.
In addition to the CCC Art Center Gallery exhibit, for the fifth consecutive year, other venues in downtown Astoria will be exhibiting nudes in a collective show entitled Nudes Downtown: A Compendium of Art Inspired by Au Naturel. A gallery walk will be held on Saturday, February 14th. Among the galleries and venues hosting this year’s event are RiverSea Gallery, Imogen Gallery, Tempo Gallery and Artist Collective, Lightbox Photographic Gallery, Old Town Framing, and KALA@Hipfish.
Direct inquiries to: Kristin Shauck, 503-338-2472.
Attached images from the 2015 Au Naturel Exhibit (6):
Chris Sheridan Seattle, WA: Beyond the Boundary of the Hedge: Margarita and His Errand, Oil on Canvas, 54x40
James McComas, Superior, CO: Diana, Oil on Linen, 24x18
Cynthia Yatchman, Seattle, WA: Carapaces, Mixed Media, 12x12
Reed Clarke, Portland, OR: Apparition Number Four, Oil on Canvas, 42x42
Patrick Kernan, Portland, OR: Amanda, Watercolor and Pastel Pencil, 21x14
Nicole Jeffords, Austin, TX: Arden, Oil on Canvas, 28x22