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Water, paint a volatile mix
Gazette, The (Colorado Springs), Aug 19, 2005 by MARK ARNEST THE GAZETTE

The Pikes Peak Watercolor Society's annual Watermedia exhibit is like an art supermarket.

There's no theme besides the restriction to water media -- which is no restriction at all in terms of style.

There's no educational value other than the education your eye gets looking at a lot of good pictures. About 20 cash prizes -- with a $1,000 first prize -- ensure high-quality entries from all over the nation, and even from a few foreign countries.

Watermedia XIV at the Gallery of Contemporary Art maintains previous exhibits' high standards.

From 413 works submitted, juror Katherine Chang Liu selected 113 works by 111 artists. Her viewpoint, though not at all dogmatic, is resolutely contemporary: The top four prizes went to works that were abstract or surrealist.

Don Sayers won first prize for "Cavalli's" -- a semiabstract jumble of motion that conveys the energy of a city street. The urban feel is heightened by a basically black-and-white palette, enlivened with a few splashes of bold color.

Second place went to an utterly different approach to modernism. Darcy Scott's "Head in the Clouds," is a lyrical, Magritte-like sky scene with floating stools.

Liu also appreciates more traditional work, giving the fifth- place award to Al Zerries' "Aloof," a portrait with exquisite skin tones and eloquent body language, and sixth to Joel Johnson's "San Xavier," a church painting with beautiful modulation between its cool foreground to its warm middle ground.

Liu's wide-ranging eye is a major reason for the exhibit's success: No matter what you like, you'll find it here.

Works include the riot of energy and color in Sara Ware Howsam's "Asian Afternoon"; the monochrome minimalism of Sheila Downey's "Stick I"; Betty Bloom's "Lady Ashley," a cutebut-not-cloying bulldog portrait; the frankly weird "The Watchers," Wm. Kelly Bailey's series of men peeking out from behind a series of barriers; the flat, brilliant colors of Abby Lammers' cartoony "Free Parking"; and Cindy Brabec's exquisitely painted "Mocha Latte Espresso."

The show will be one of the last overseen by curator Gerry Riggs, who announced his retirement Wednesday.

Since becoming curator in 1991, Riggs has made the Gallery of Contemporary Art into one of the cornerstones of the region's arts scene. His succession of provocative exhibits has been especially impressive given the gallery's chronic shortage of funding.

It's not time to say goodbye yet, however. Riggs will remain on the job until the end of the fall semester and plans to open two more exhibits.


The Pikes Peak Watercolor Society and the Gallery of Contemporary Art at UCCS present Watermedia XIV

When: Opening 5-7 p.m. today; regular hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 1-4 p.m. Saturdays; through Oct. 14

Where: Gallery of Contemporary Art, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Admission: Free; 262-3567

Copyright 2005
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

Bibliography for "Water, paint a volatile mix"
MARK ARNEST THE GAZETTE "Water, paint a volatile mix". Gazette, The (Colorado Springs). Aug 19, 2005. FindArticles.com. 23 Sep. 2006.

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