Four winning works emerge from Black & White exhibit at La Jolla Art Association

By Will Bowen

Things are rarely black and white, they are usually shades of gray, as philosophers like to say … except, of course, at the annual Black & White Juried Art Competition, showing daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Oct. 7 at the La Jolla Art Association gallery, 8100 Paseo Del Ocaso in La Jolla Shores. Here everything, including paintings, prints and photographs, are composed of black or white hues exclusively.

This is the third Black & White show for LJAA. This year, the judge of the competition was Angelika Villagrana, a German printmaker, who has lived in the United States for 42 years. Villagrana is president of the Artist’s Guild at The San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. For the Black & White exhibition, she selected 40 works from more than 140 submitted to the competition.

At a reception on Sept.15, Villagrana, who has a studio in Gallery 21 in Spanish Village, announced the winners of the competition. “My criterion for evaluation was that the works should show artistic skill, tell a story, and speak to the emotions,” she said.

Villagrana was assisted by Janine Donston, a photographer and former flag twirler from Castle Park High School, who has only been with the LJAA for six months. Donston attended to the details of the show through an online computer process. “It was a great pleasure and a lot of fun to be involved, mostly through virtual reality!” Donston said.

A first-place ribbon and $400 in prize money went to a jubilant Tania Kelvin for her exquisite charcoal drawing of a pair of hands belonging to Merce Cunningham, the modern dance choreographer.

Kelvin said she chose to draw Cunningham’s hands from a photograph because “they were a challenge; although they were not pretty hands, they showed character, integrity, and poise, and they told a story.”

Villagrana said that it was immediately apparent that Kelvin’s drawing was the best piece in the show.

“The work created a powerful emotion. My eyes were constantly drawn to it as I tried to interpret what type of person the clasped hands belonged to.”

In accepting the prize, Kelvin said, “I am greatly honored by the award and find it to be encouraging. Charcoal is not my first medium. I most like to dabble in sculpture — metal, stone — and I am also a photographer by inclination.”

Second place and $250 went to Ginny English for an oil painting of five young African boys waving hand signs by the roadside, which she titled “Solidarity.” The children each seem to have a different personality, yet jointly stand for pride, strength, and the desire to build a new Africa.

“The children are from the new African nation of Burundi, which is on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. My brother went there to a help a missionary build a fence, and a friend of his took the photograph of the boys, which he sent me to paint.”

Third place and a cash prize of $100 went to Jill Rowe for a well-organized and clever surrealistic digital painting, called “Frame of Mind.” The painting depicts a floating tile floor in a hallway, above which is a mirror or a painting, which leads to an outside scene in the woods.

Honorable mention, which also had a cash prize of $100, went to Joan Niles for a monotype print called “Hidden Beach.” Niles carved out a scene in Plexiglas with rollers and dental tools of a beach scene silhouetted by a city, then pressed a piece of Rives 100 cotton paper to the inked Plexiglas for the final one-of-a kind product.

“I was more interested in the viewer feeling my painting rather than seeing it clearly. With this process, the press takes over at a certain point and you are not really sure what you will get.”

Renee Newman was one of the many people who came to see the exhibition. She called the show, “wonderful and magnificent.”

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