For the first time ever, the Triton Museum of Art has named two first place winners in the 2013 Statewide Painting Competition and Exhibition.
The exhibit, on display until Feb. 2, showcases the best of the best in painting throughout the state. There has always been a first, second and third place along with a handful of honorable mentions. However, this year the judges just couldn’t decide. And, instead of one grand prize of a solo show, there were two solo shows awarded.
Cuong Nguyen, who won the competition in 2011 with his large, incredibly realistic painting “Him,” took the top spot again. Nguyen’s winning oil painting, “Portrait of Paul as Leonardo,” uses his picture perfect painting precision and accentuates the light and shadows within the piece. As in other of Nguyen’s portraiture, the eyes are mesmerizing – drawing the viewer deeper and deeper into the canvas.
In a contrasting move, the jurors (Chief Curator Preston Metcalf, Curator of Education/Curator Ester Fernandez, and Registrar/Curator Stephanie Learmonth) chose Holly Van Hart’s “Possibilities Abound” as the other first place winner. Van Hart’s oil painting of three eggs in a bird’s nest impressed the judges. While Nguyen’s piece uses defined brush strokes to create a life-like image, Van Hart’s brush strokes are looser and the edges are softer, but the outcome is still eye-catching.
Christopher Olsen took second place with “Buddies: Guido and Ernest,” a multi-media on paper piece of two boys standing in water. The background is a bit abstract and the boys are also loosely defined. Their faces are seen, but many of the realistic details are lost (teeth, the whites of their eyes, one boy has fingernails and the other does not, etc.)
Third place went to Maura Carta’s “Rabbit,” an old, light pink stuffed animal (painted with soft edges to show the delicacy of the bunny to the viewer) placed onto a beautifully draped blanket.
This year’s honorable mentions were awarded to Farshid Namei for “Ariana in Red,” Yvette Brown’s “Michael,” Elizabeth Jimenez Montelongo’s “Red Earth,” Jennifer M. Blalack’s “Illuminated Manuscripts,” Nabeela Sajjad’s “Praise,” Ashlie Benton’s “Continuum,” Jim Smyth’s “The Villa,” Steven McDonald’s “Summer Skies,” B. Nicole Klassen’s “Abundance,” Mark Garner’s “La Noche, Cuenca” and Lynette Cook’s “Clothes Lines.”
One item in the exhibit, Jaya King’s “Familia Primero,” will hold a special place for many of the regular museum visitors. King’s gouache on watercolor paper painting depicts two young men, standing side-by-side. It only takes a second to recognize that the two men are Triton volunteer Myles Fenton and former volunteer Miha Sarani. (Sarani recently moved to attend art school at the University of Washington.)
Overall, the museum made solid choices, however, there will always be a few that viewers feel deserves more recognition or ones that a viewer may have not chosen for the awards or honorable mentions. Which are yours?
The Triton Museum of Art is at 1505 Warburton Ave. (across from City Hall). Visit www.tritionmuseum.org for more information.