AVA’s All-Member show is a showstopper
I meandered around the AVA All-Member show opening a couple of Fridays ago, checking out the exhibit.
The quality of the art was outstanding—but even more excellent was an energetic feeling that radiated through the room; a vibration, a creative buzz. Looking at art is enjoyable and you can do it any time, but the real excitement happens when a bunch of artists and creative people get together in one room.
As we talked about her piece (a delightful nonobjective painting made with ink, salt, and water), Fennel Blythe said, “It’s really nice to have a local community-oriented organization to represent us. This show is well done, and it shows the members’ work in a visually coherent fashion. I’m grateful to be a part of this.”
Michael Largent mentioned, “It’s a good connecting point to meet other artists, exhibit work, and see contemporary art in town,” as we looked at his colorful digital image.
Avant-garde painter Brent Weston told me, “AVA is a longstanding thing that brings the art community together, like a nexus or focal point. When I first moved to Chattanooga, this was the first place I went. I’ve been a member for six years now.”
For over 25 years, the Association for Visual Artists has been providing Chattanooga-area artists with opportunities for advancement. The organization has a number of resources available to members, one of which is a professional gallery where work can be exhibited in a formal setting.
Through August, the AVA gallery is hosting the yearly All-Member Salon Show, an event that showcases a rich variety of local art. The 64 artists represented this year are Debbie Smith, Eric Greene, Fennel Blythe, Diana Edwards, Ellyn Bivin, Thomas Shaw, Juanita Greenspan, Clint Frenchko, Pamela Glaser, David Allison, Carrie Pendergrass, Bonnie Vetterick, Lauralyn Drake, Catherine Stetson, Scott Henshaw, Jillian Walther, Billy Weeks, Bill McCord, Jan Burleson, Paulina Cassidy, Lauren Goforth, Michelle Kimbrell, Sandi Waters, Maddin Corey, Madeline Gavin, Julie Turner, Freddie Brewer, Jaye Harris, Margaret Park, Daniel Swanger, Michael Smelcher, Miki Boni, Arthur T. Reddy, Wes Rehberg, Shelby Turner, Desucre Anzman, Evie Durant, Mamie Biven, Andie Qualls, Robert Schoolfield, Erin Hall, Sally Fleming, Laylee Schoen, Mary Haberkorn, Claudia Moore, Charlie Pfitzer, Carol Kimmons, Olive B “Lolly” Durant, Caitlen Dickens, Myles Freeman, Michael Largent, Greg Haynes, Laurie Jo Raymond, Neil Grant, Brent Weston, Khambrel Green, Renel Plouffe, Jillian Weathers, Heath Montgomery with Devon Kronenberg, Cara Halenar, Patrick Ironwood, Laura Cleary, and Mary B. Lynch.
Present in this show are a massive range of styles and mediums, including oil and acrylic painting, drawing, photography, ceramic sculpture and pottery, and mixed media that utilizes everything and the kitchen sink (Weston’s study of Velazquez’s “Las Menias” literally has a faucet adhered to its surface).
The processes that created each piece are as distinctive as fingerprints, and some of them are extremely specialized, like Patrick Ironwood’s electroformed metal, Juanita Greenspan’s carved alabaster, Freddy Brewer’s etched crayon drawing, and Eric Greene’s nail art.
There are many strong examples of representational painting, fine brush work, and impressionism. Jan Burleson’s stunning oil on canvas, Pamela Glaser’s majestic acrylic on canvas, and Daniel Swanger’s classy oil on canvas are a few examples of this trend.
Desucre Anzman’s “Bar Scene” looks like a refined Cubist masterpiece, and Wes Rehberg’s “Accordionist on the Walking Bridge” feels like a Van Gogh reincarnation.
A nice array of classic and experimental photography can be seen next to the paintings. Catherine Stetson’s “I Concur” is a futuristic-looking composition of reflections in glass that challenges some of the more conventional shots, such as the gorgeous landscape captured by Jillian Walther and the highly contrasted portrait of a cowboy by Billy Weeks.
Not to be outdone by a camera, Lauren Goforth’s photorealistic still life of a dinosaur toy is as good as graphite can get. Neil Grant’s ceramic sculpture is extremely lifelike, well composed, and quite impressive, but not as functional as the sweet pottery of Charlie Pfitzer and Carol Kimmons.
The show’s body of nonobjective work is stimulating, energetic, and revolutionary. Margaret Park’s marks truly capture the essence of spilt milk. Some of the most exciting pieces in the show are ones that incorporate elements of realism and recognizable images into abstract compositions.
Ellyn Bivin’s “untitled” is light, simple, and graceful, subtly echoing the feather that it depicts, while Heath Montgomery and Devon Kronenberg’s collaborative effort boldly catches the eye, yelling, “Look at me!!!”
This incredible collection of art will be on display until Aug. 28 at AVA, 30 Frazier Ave.avarts.org