WCAC hosts first regional juried show

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

A new and exclusive art exhibit hopes to celebrate the best artists the region has to offer. The Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center launched its first juried exhibition with an awards ceremony Monday evening.

“This is a pretty high caliber show,” said Janis Wood, WCAC president.

Artist and Williamsburg Art Gallery owner Gulay Berryman served as the judge for the show, perusing 81 works by 59 artists for the best of the best.

“She’s so talented herself,” Wood said, adding that Berryman is able to appreciate a variety of styles spanning traditional and contemporary approaches. “She appreciates all the other artists and their creativity. Every gamut is covered.”

Berryman said she used her experiences from traveling and living around the world, in places such as Turkey, France, Italy and Senegal, to help form her decisions.

“What I saw over there, I just absorbed,” she said.

Berryman recalled when she was younger, her parents would make sure to check out the art museum first whenever they went someplace new. She would move in for a more intimate look at the paintings, admiring the brushstrokes and other fine details.

As for judging the artwork for WCAC’s latest show, she said she factored in the composition, color harmony, technical ability, how the subject is presented to the viewer and what message or story the artist is hoping to convey.

“I usually prefer soothing, pleasing messages,” she said, adding that she tends to steer clear of darker content in favor of something one might enjoy with a nice glass of wine. But that doesn’t signify a lack of diversity in her selections.

Berryman selected water media artist Deborah Scott’s “Struttin’ Her Stuff” for the winner of Best in Show award. She praised the “attitude of the subject, who obviously knows where she’s going,” calling the piece “whimsical.” She also lauded the background colors for enhancing a sense of movement.

The first place winner was an acrylic still life piece, “Persimmons and Figs” by James Warwick Jones.

“I like that one. It’s very hard to present still life,” Berryman said. “The shape and the texture has been very well-executed.”

She praised Jones’ use of depth and space between the muted background, the fruit and its hanging leaves.

Other winners include Bob Carson’s acrylic “4 Painters” in second place and Julia Lesnichy’ oil-based “Blue Ridge Mountains in the Evening Light” in third. Honorable mentions and awards of excellence also went out to 10 additional artists, whose work included photography, ceramics and 3D needle-felted wool. The artists hail from the Williamsburg area and across the region, including Richmond, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

“This is one of the best ones that I’ve seen,” George Van Eron, a WCAC member artist who came out to see the latest offerings Monday, said of the show.

Berryman praised WCAC for its role within the community.

“They always promote and support the local artists and art in Williamsburg,” she said.

Want to go?

The show runs through Nov. 9 at the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center, at 110 Westover Ave.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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