Sunday, April 22, 2012

The San Diego Art Institute Regional Awards Exhibition Sparks Some Memorable Works

The San Diego Art Institute’s current Southern California Regional Awards Exhibition is a large display of ninety works, selected from 360 entries by judge, Deborah Klochko, Executive Director of the Museum of Photographic Arts. The exhibition is a combination of painting, sculpture, drawings, photography, monotype and assemblage. As it is with many open call competitions, quality and technical skill of the artists included varies greatly, but several works emerge as standouts.

Artist Diane Brunner’s sculptural work “Be Fabulous - Don’t Let One Thing Ruin Your Life”, is a charming mixed media piece portraying a ton of small paper maiche human figures, signs and messages, animals, boats, buildings and the ocean- all crowded into a small space. The work creates the sense of the bustling,lively activity of the San Diego harbor during tourist season - all seemingly sliding off of a somewhat vertical plane. The piece is protected by a clear acrylic frame. Warren Bakley’s “Relic”, a quietly compelling clay stoneware wall sculpture, portrays an abstract-like figure of a man in neutral gray-black tones. The face, which curiously has no features, almost seems to be melting or burning however the gesture of the figure appears stoic. The figure’s abstract forms create the feeling of a traveler dressed from an earlier era in time. “The Dream I Had Today”, an assemblage by artist Michael McAlister, is a wall piece - a small black chest housing a white skull-like object, stone, cork, photograph, and medicine bottle. A serpent-like head sits atop the chest leaving the viewer to wonder what personal story that snake might tell if he could talk. Cheryl Griffith’s “Hope”, a monotype with dry point which received a merit award, is a personal and charming tribute to the idea of “hope”. It portrays a young boy’s head looking out sideways with a bluebird perched on his head. A quote about “hope” by Emily Dickinson is printed prominently across the figure, seemingly indicating Griffith’s heartfelt thoughts about “hope”. The quietly present and smaller work “Floating City”, by Brandon Holmes, is a well crafted detailed realistic graphite drawing portraying Romanesque buildings, eighteenth century sailing vessels and three figures holding up some of the buildings. This fantastical drawing appears to be structured around the front end of a ship suggesting a mythological story that only the artist knows. Across a vertically painted gray wall, artist Judith Parenio exhibits “Pollen”, a well designed sculptural work made of several hexagonal wooden/encaustic elements referring to shapes in a honeycomb. Bats, birds, bees, and plants are the subject matter suggesting Parenio’s obvious love of nature. “Modern Woman Story” by Bhavna Mehta, is a black paper-cut work attached to a framed white background. As a traditional Indian art form spanning hundreds of years, this piece follows well In this traditions’ footsteps. Mehta depicts a personal journey of childhood symbols- kites, daisies, a girl playing basketball and reading a biology book. In the category of painting, there were three pieces of note by Eva D’Amico, John Brodie and Lauren Carrerera. D’Amico’s “Protecting Innocence”, refers to impressionistic painting whose subject of a young girl sleeping, intermingles with branches of a tree. This acrylic painting with a beautifully limited color palette expresses the artist’s love of movement and form. John Brodie’s “Fabulous Beast of Uncertain Returns”, is a boldly colored acrylic painting on clear polyester that seems to reference African masks and female symbols. Wildly expressed forms, brushwork and colors are curiously set against the backdrop of a formal abstract composition. Last, but not least, “The Audition” by Lauren Carrera, is a large abstract oil painting which is reminiscent of color field painting. It is a subtle mixture of turquoises, warm tones and burnt oranges in an overall tiny quilt-like pattern, like a blanket covering us in the fall season.

This exhibition runs through May 13th


Cathy Breslaw is a southern California visual artist, writer and lecturer who has had over 25 solo exhibitions, and 50 group exhibitions across the country at museums, art centers, college and university galleries and commercial galleries. Her work can be found in many private and corporate collections.

Her work and writing can be seen at:




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