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Best of the Best in Watercolor

Best of the Best in Watercolor

To wrap up 2012, the Triton Museum of Art is exhibiting the best pieces from its 2012 Statewide Watercolor Competition in a display running through February 3.

There was nothing new about the way the competition was judged. Each submission was placed into a PowerPoint slideshow and the jurors – Chief Curator Preston Metcalf, Curator of Education Maria Ester Fernandez and Curator Stephani Learmonth – assigned a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” to each slide. All paintings receiving three “yeses” and two “yeses” and one “maybe” were also included. A winner was chosen among the best of the best in watercolor.


This year, the winner, much like last year, will receive a solo exhibition at the Triton during the winter of 2013. And, in a bit of an odd choice, the jurors came to the conclusion that Kay Russell’s “Hat I/Rain” was the best piece submitted. On first glance, it looks like a hat on a splattered background.

With beautiful landscapes and paintings that look more like photographs, this particular piece doesn’t stand out like some of the others. But, as always, the jurors see something the glancing viewer does not, and it takes some time to value the intricacies of this painting. The background isn’t a mess of splattered paint. It’s the rain. Water streaks flow down the painting. Then there’s the hat – an old fashioned hat with feathers. Each of the feathers is detailed with frayed and worn edges. The hat remains in tact while the blue and pink background is drowned by the rain. The question the viewer is left with is: Why does the hat stay intact while the background washes away?

Second and third place went to more traditional paintings. Ruth Miller painted a rain-soaked city street with cars stopped at a light and umbrella-holding pedestrians scurrying from one corner to the next. But, in the top right of the image, walking along the crosswalk is a single umbrella-less person – a person who looks to be strolling instead of scurrying. The subject, someone in a “Yellow Slicker,” is also the namesake of the piece.

And, in third place, a piece drenched in sunlight instead of showers. Peter Carey’s “Stillebed Med Vagn” depicts a cleaner, or possibly a homeless person, reading a magazine while standing next to his shopping cart outside The Ritz-Carlton Club.

Honorable mentions included: Jacqueline Boberg’s “Venice After the Storm,” Mark Garner’s “Cotswald Market,” John C. Haynes’ “7 to 4 1/2,” Patricio Jimenez’s “Hunting Lodge” and “Resting Place,” Maureen Langenbach’s “Solitary Confinement,” Kay Russell’s “Evening Bag I/Rain,” Thomas W. Schaller’s “Italian Morning,” and Claire Schroeven Verbiest’s “Treasure.”

The Triton Museum of Art is at 1505 Warburton Avenue in Santa Clara, and open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The museum is open until 8 p.m. every third Thursday of the month and closed on Monday. For more information on the 2012 Statewide Watercolor Competition and Exhibition visit


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