CCC Celebrates 5th Anniversary of Au Naturel

The Clatsop Community College Art Center Gallery is proud to announce that Au Naturel: The Nude in the 21st Century—CCC's fifth annual juried international art exhibition—will be on display at CCC's Art Center Gallery.

The Au Naturel exhibit is open February 17th - April 14, 2011. The exhibit will open with a reception honoring the selected artists Thursday, February 17th at 6:00 pm., and this year's juror, Jane Beebe, will be present. Awards will be announced at the reception, which will include cash prizes, purchase awards, a solo show award for a selected artist to be held during the 2011-2012 exhibition season, and a select number of workshop awards. Local guitarist Dave Drury will provide music during the event. A No-Host Post-Reception Party at the Baked Alaska, which is located at #1 12th Street in downtown Astoria, will immediately follow the reception.

This exhibit marks the competition's fifth consecutive year. Each year, the competition continues to grow, attracting a greater and greater number of entries. This year, over 840 images were submitted by 216 artists from 29 states plus the District of Columbia, in addition to international submissions from Japan, India, the Philippines, Greece, Denmark, Germany, and Canada. After extensive consideration, Juror Jane Beebe selected 56 works of art representing 52 artists from 19 states as well as international artists from Denmark and Germany.

This year's juror, Jane Beebe, is owner and director of PDX Contemporary Art, one of Portland’s leading galleries showing art that, as Ms. Beebe describes, “has a slight conceptual edge. It is personal work which is both intellectually and visually satisfying.” PDX opened in 1996 in a tiny and beautiful space designed by Brad Cloepfil, Allied Works. In addition to running PDX, Ms. Beebe initiated the PDX Window Project, a small exhibition space that may be viewed from the sidewalk 24 hours a day. In the fall of 2005, PDX moved into a much larger space also in the Pearl District and designed by the increasingly well-known and awarded Allied Works. PDX participates in “First Thursdays” and hosts other events—exhibiting works by PDX represented artists and continuing to present the PDX Window Project. In 2009, PDX expanded with PDX Across The Hall. With over twenty years in the art business, Ms. Beebe has participated in art fairs across the country among them the L.A. Art Fair International, artLA, Art Santa Fe, Art Chicago, San Francisco International Art Fair, Pulse Miami and Volta NY. Ms. Beebe states, “My goal continues to be the development of the artists’ careers, expanding their audiences and opportunities. I am proud of the number of reviews and awards the artists and the gallery have received, particularly of the artists for whom PDX is their only representative."

Ms. Beebe has been involved in a number of community activities. She served on the board of directors of Oregon College of Art and Craft, The Portland Art Museum, OHSU Marquam Hill Art Committee and Chaired the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Art committee responsible for placing art in and as part of the new construction.

Although Ms. Beebe does not often accept invitations to judge competitions, she made an exception in this case. "I am pleased to be involved with a community college," she explains. "Community colleges are so important in creating an educated population in our country. I am particularly pleased to be at Clatsop Community College where my daughter is a student and the school where an artist I represent at PDX was a student a few years ago."

The juror's task is extremely demanding and does not always go according to plan, as Ms. Beebe describes, "Initially, I had planned on selecting a few artists and exhibiting several pieces by each of those artists. But since there were so many applicants (over 800 images), I decided it would be most beneficial to include many artists. This would provide exhibition visitors the opportunity of seeing a variety of ways in which artists approach the figure and importantly, to provide a greater number of individual artists the opportunity to exhibit." In selecting work for the show, she explains that her primary consideration was evidence of what she felt was an "authentically individual expression of seeing and thinking about the figure."

Artists participating in the 2011 Au Naturel exhibit are drawn to the human form for a variety of reasons. As Mark Kaufman of Wilmington, Delaware, explains, “The human figure is something with which we are intimately familiar. It can evoke in us deep emotional, sexual and psychological reactions. These responses to the human form are personal, secret and yet universal.”

Laura Hamje of Seattle, Washington, agrees that the human form is a powerful subject. "The nude figure is the strongest visual vehicle for exploration of self and our physical manifestation in the world,” she states. “Even in a time when our culture is inundated with visions of sex and the naked body, the painted or drawn nude still stands strong as a method of depicting our vulnerability and enabling common ground.”

One of the international artists represented in the show, Susannah Martin of the Cologne area in Germany, speculates on the possible reasons for the sense of uneasiness that some people experience when confronted with the nude human form. “I have been quite surprised by many people’s discomfort with this work and I believe, considering the long history of the nude as an art form, that this discomfort reflects a lack of balance indicative of our times. I would like to encourage people to be aware of that lack of balance and discomfort and possibly to reflect on the causes of it.”

Portland artist Joseph Besch describes the challenges and rewards of working with the figure. "Painting from life takes time, and it’s difficult to paint an object as it changes through time. This struggle fascinates me. Painting from the figure is even more difficult. Through time spent together to capture a ‘likeness’ as well as capture the ‘spirit’ of someone, the artist and model both work to keep the painting from becoming too academic. It’s a hard recipe to master, but when it works, it’s the most rewarding."

Armin Mühsam, originally from Romania, educated in Germany as well as in the U.S., and currently Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri, will be exhibiting his work in the Au Naturel for the third consecutive year. As an art educator, Mühsam believes in the importance of the study of the human form as means to develop students' ability to "learn how to see," which increases visual awareness, "an indispensible requirement for all further artistic endeavors, regardless of the medium and discipline." Mühsam was selected as a Workshop Award Winner in the 2010 show, and will be conducting his drawing workshop “Figure Drawing Matters” from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. in the CCC Art Center on Tuesday, April 12.

As in previous years, this year's exhibit will feature a range of approaches to the figure in a wide variety of media. Local Astoria artist Charles Schweigert enjoys working in mixed media, which “means that each new piece is a fresh challenge, a chance to combine different materials and visual elements in ever-evolving ways.” He combines drawing inks and dry pigments on a variety of paper surfaces, “especially very old paper from Japanese books, paper that is torn, soiled, and tattered, yet full of character.”

Surprisingly, Robert A. Weibel of Fresno, California, uses the unusual medium of gunpowder to create his artwork. “Gunpowder is typically and historically used to destroy, but in my art I use it to create. Rendering a nude with a series of small explosions and flares is both dramatic and transforming. Cai Guo-Qiang is the father of this process. I am fortunate to continue to explore and refine this unique form of contemporary artistic expression.”

Local artists have a strong presence once again in this year’s exhibit. Northwest coast artists represented in this year’s show include Lisa Ackerman, Janet Bland, Nicholas Knapton, Joan Masat, Charles Schweigert, Noel Thomas, and Penny Treat. Penny Treat continuously develops her artistic skills by taking drawing, painting, and printmaking classes at CCC and extends her practice working from life by attending the Friday afternoon open studio that the College offers throughout the year. “I feel very fortunate to have been selected for the second time to this prestigious international show. It is an affirmation for me to continue to focus on the figure and to explore all the exciting opportunities for expression.”

This year will be the third time for Astorian Joan Masat to exhibit her work in the Au Naturel exhibit. Her work tends toward the whimsical, with a touch of humor. “The entry that I painted for this year’s competition is called The Long Hot Summer (wishful thinking on my part). It did make me feel warmer, and was fun to paint. It’s all about going to bed without wool socks.”

In celebration of the Au Naturel’s fifth year, other venues in downtown Astoria will also be exhibiting nudes in a collective show entitled Nudes Downtown: A Compendium of Art Inspired by Au Naturel, opening for the second Saturday artwalk and running throughout the month of February. The participating venues are RiverSea Gallery, Old Town Framing, Astoria Coffee House, and Salon Vervé.

The Au Naturel exhibit and opening reception are free and open to the public. Special thanks to the Cannery Pier Hotel and the Baked Alaska. The CCC Art Center Gallery is located at 1799 Lexington Avenue in Astoria and is ADA accessible. The gallery hours are from 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. The gallery is open on Sundays and holidays by appointment only. Please note that special Spring Break hours between Monday, March 21 and Saturday, March 26 are from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For more information, please contact Kristin Shauck at 503-338-2472.

Clatsop Community College is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution.

Drawing of woman seated.

Armin Mühsam, Erin Seated, ink on paper, 16" x 15".

Artwork made from gunpowder.

Robert A. Weibel, Fetish Dance, exploded gunpowder residue embossed print
40" x 26".

Drawing of woman lying down.

Penny Treat, Irish Lady, conte crayon, 22" x 28".

Mixed media artwork.

Charles Schweigert, Shun, mixed-media on rice paper from old Japanese books
54" x 26".

Painting of nude woman.

Joseph Besch, Elona, oil on linen on panel, 12" x 9".

Black & white oil painting of nude.

Laura Hamje, Sara, oil on paper, 12" x 8".

Postcard advertising exhibit.


Poster advertising exhibit.



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