The Art Renewal Center recently presented the winners of their 2012/2013 International ARC Salon Competition. With an approximate 2,000 entries this year by over 850 artists, the competition was more competitive than ever.
Even with an additional category, and expanding their finalist cut from just over 500 works last year to the top 600 this year, the finalists only included the top 30% of works submitted.
The Art Renewal Center was founded in 1999 for the advancement of traditional representational art, and to present responsible opposing views to the Modernist art establishment. ARC is a registered 501(c) 3 non-profit educational foundation, and one of the Internet’s leading art resources.
The Purchase Awards include 17 of the top winning pieces, as it is usual that the best works are also the most desirable. The value of the paintings acquired totaled over $240,000. This is in addition to the $40,000 in cash prizes and the production of the first ever ARC Salon DVD which is being produced by Streamline Inc., the publishers of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine and Plein Air Magazine, valued at $25,000. The DVD is part of the Best in Show prize and it will be featuring a demonstration and interview with the Best in Show winner. The DVD will also include an interview with ARC Chairman Frederick Ross and include the works of all the winners and finalists.
The Winners, Their Works
Best in Show: This year’s Best in Show went to Orley Ypon, who took the grand prize with his painting of “Interregnum,” a massive work of 90 x 60 inches displaying an elaborate scene of hundreds of individuals struggling in the murky waters of uncertainty.
The title, “Interregnum,” means a period of discontinuity or “gap” in a government, organization, or social order.
Rene Guatlo, an art critic from the Philippines said, “The painting depicts a turbulent scene, the transition between kingly dynasties that divide and link conflicting interests and powers. Working on the universal theme of change, Ypon focuses on the struggle that is an inevitable part of the process, and the trauma that ordinary people suffer in battles that are not theirs.”
Orley Ypon is a proud artist from the Philippines. His work tends to be highly symbolic and many pieces use large groups of human forms poetically posed to depict themes, social issues, and the human condition. Ypon continues to paint his favorite scenes of life and culture while continuously evolving his traditional technique through study and awareness of contemporary art forms. He holds occasional exhibits in the Manila area and is based in Pasig City, Philippines.
William Bouguereau Award: This year it should be noted that the William Bouguereau Award Winner, “The Little Mermaid (The Rescue),” by Spanish artist Arantzazu Martinez, was also runner up for Best in Show, placing just behind “Interregnum.”
“The Rescue” is also a large canvas measuring 90 x 50 inches.
About the painting, Arantzazu said, “Throughout our lives, from time to time we find things that make us vibrate with an indescribable intensity. They fascinate us and arouse positive emotions, taking us out of our lethargy. We are filled with joy and strength. Feeling this emotional transformation at certain times in my life was what most influenced me to choose my profession; to give the best of myself, to offer something to provoke that emotional intensity in others and myself. There is something in the human imprint we perceive clearly in craftsmanship. Somehow it helps us to reflect on our own powers, which is a very important part of the value of an artwork. This painting is the biggest challenge I faced so far, not only because of the size, but because the image takes place in a weightless environment. Representing an entirely new space for me has been a very exciting challenge. Fortunately the male model allowed me to hang him from a scaffold in my studio.”
Plein Air Magazine award: Joseph McGurl is ARC’s first recipient of what will hopefully be a long line of Plein Air Magazine award winners who will have a featured article done on their work in an upcoming issue of Plein Air Magazine. This award was chosen by the magazine’s publisher, B. Eric Rhoads, though he was not the only judge to see the strong submissions by this talented artist.
Joseph McGurl also won first place in the landscape category for his painting “Creation in Time and Space.” McGurl, who lives and paints in Massachusetts, has been referred to as one of the acknowledged leaders of the current American Landscape School. This has been confirmed by his inclusion in several important museum shows and his successful relationship with some of the country’s leading galleries.
Additionally, he has been the subject of numerous book and magazine articles, and he conducts workshops and presents lectures throughout the country. The title, Creation in Time and Space, in combination with the muddy waters of a bubbling swamp, calls to mind images of primordial days when the first spark of animal life formed on the Earth; it conjures thoughts of the seemingly timelessness of nature and the bounty of life that can exist outside the perception of the naked eye.
Landscape Category (tie for second): For the first year ever we have not one, but two ties in the ARC Salon. The first is in the Landscape Category for Second Place between Erik Koeppel, for his painting “Revival,” and Mark Haworth’s work “Wall of Zion.”
Koeppel, from New Hampshire, is known as being one of only a handful of artists to recapture the feelings of the Hudson River School painters of the 19th century. He has hung beside Thomas Cole, Winslow Homer, Edgar Degas, John Frederick Kensett, and George Inness, and has had the distinguished honor of entering many collections that include artists of this caliber.
About “Revival,” he commented that it was his “attempt to capture the relationship between Humankind and the Universal.” And that “There is also a comparison between the humble efforts of humanity to create Beauty, and the power of Beauty created by Nature.”
“Wall of Zion” depicts an area in Zion National Park, Utah. About the painting, the Texan artist Haworth said, “I was there in the peak of autumn. The cottonwoods were in their full golden fall colors and the canyon walls were lit up brilliantly red-orange under the clear morning sky. I came around a bend and there across the river was this massive wall. The light on that weathered, etched and sculpted wall was at once awe-inspiring. The mood made me breathless. This is the spirituality that nature creates, which emotionally connects with me. I try to capture this emotion of light in my landscape paintings, hoping to inspire those who view my work.”
Brad Aldridge painted the Third Place winner, “Winter Afternoon.” This massive cityscape captures the impressive towering structures that make up the heart of Salt Lake City, his home capital in Utah. In the distance the major road systems seem to stretch to eternity, before finally reaching the desert at the horizon. The painting has a tremendous atmospheric mood of sand, dust, and intense light, which partly obscures yet intensifies the viewer’s perception of the vista.
Drawing Category (tie for second): The second tie was in the Drawing Category, also for Second Place, between California resident Julio Reyes for his “Black Veil,” and Canadian artist Juan Martinez for his piece, “That Woman from Sparta.”
It should also be said that for the second year in a row our First Place Drawing Category Award winner was a student from the ARC Approved Ani Art Academies. Roger Long, last year, and this year Jason Brady with his dark and intimidating charcoal titled “Just a Game.”
Jason Brady who is only 23 years old, is sure to have a promising art career in his future. As a quiet contemplative, he questions the pivotal questions of life and their meaning.
About his work he says, “This vanitas portrays just a game, yet a struggle for life. The player’s lone king stands against the reaper’s army. Checkmate appears to be inevitable. The board of life is itself quite bland, abiding by the rules with its monotonous predictable pattern. On the other hand, the reaper’s drapery is a chaotic whirl of beauty spiraling into the jaws of death. How will you meet your end? Is death a beautiful release from the shackles of life or just an utterly black void of nothingness? As an artist I will continue to create what I call muddled glimpses. These muddled glimpses are fragmentary visions of my somewhat convoluted reality. I hope my drawings mesmerize, even confuse the viewer so that they may question the symbols to discover their meaning and purpose. “
For the drawing “That Woman from Sparta” Juan Martinez was inspired by his reading of “Helen of Troy,” by Bettany Hughes. The book is an exploration of the known history of the early Greeks along with a speculation of who the “real” Helen might be.
Martinez depicts her as a seated nude, with face turned away from the viewer, an ancient urn peeking out from behind. About the piece, Martinez commented “Helen, in my view, represents the suffering and manipulation that half the human race (i.e., the female half) has endured over the course of human history. So for my part I wish to honor that sacrifice, which is still going on in the world, with some imagery, using Helen as the theme and the archetype. As an aside, in the drawing I made, the image on the pottery vessel seen behind the female figure is based on an ancient Mycenaean design known from the period when the “real” Helen would have existed (1600 – 1100 BC), although the vessel itself is an invention.”
Julio Reyes’ “Black Veil” depicts another nude, who faces the viewer with dark allegory; wearing only a short black veil that partially obscures the female figure’s face. She holds what appears to be a limp or deceased crow or raven, its wings spread open in her hands and its tail dropping to cover her below the waist.
About the work Reyes says, “‘Black Veil’ is perhaps my most symbolic picture. I think it’s a deeply intuitive piece, destined to engage the subconscious more than anything. I wanted to capture the vulnerability and awe of seeing the naked form, as if for the first time, and to juxtapose that with the majesty and power of something so wild and wounded as this giant crow with quivering wings and raven claws. The modeling session was electric – the sight of it resonated with a magic and power beyond understanding. It exposed a nerve in me: a kind of veneration and terror, rooted in my innermost feelings about life, death, the human form, and the natural world.”
Third Place went to Pennsylvanian artist Kierstin Young for her drawing titled “Necrosis,” depicting a blond child with half a masquerade mask on her face. The child has one arm extended out towards the viewer, accomplished with perfect foreshortening, while scarab beetles crawl and break through her dress and over her body. The child seems unalarmed and indifferent as she watches. This highly symbolic and disturbing work is perhaps a commentary on the destruction of childhood innocence.
Figurative Category: First Place in the Figurative Category went to Swedish artist Nick Alm for his painting, “Two Lovers,” of a young woman curled up into the arms of a statue of Poseidon.
The painting shows a masterful use of impressionistic paint handling and a powerful emotional thrust.
About the painting Alm said, “It is said that in ancient times women had a different relationship to sculptures, as they perceived them as embodiments of real entities. With this phenomenon in mind I wanted to tell a story of a girl, starved of love and human contact, so desperate as to turn to a sculpture for intimacy: it’s tragic and beautiful at the same time. My main source of inspiration comes from the contemporary world around me. I aim to communicate what is inherently and universally human, transcending cultural codes and specific trends … It’s not my goal to criticize or change society; instead my work addresses itself primarily to the inner world of the individual. Hopefully my work will offer the viewer a break from everyday life, evoking a sense of recognition that leads to a moment of reflection, or perhaps inciting a creative urge. “
Second place Figurative went to Pennsylvania resident Joseph Dolderer’s work, “Fumiko,” a strong psychological study of a contemporary girl, wearing a modern shawl with a traditional flare. The wild haired beauty stares directly at the viewer with a strong intensity. The expression of the look is up for interpretation, though it seems to be filled with teenage angst.
Third place, “Dreams of Ophelia,” by Carlo Russo of Pennsylvania, shows a modern version of this classic Shakespearean character. The subtle coloration of grey, beige, brown and white works well with the modern sensibilities, and is in direct opposition to the 19th century pre-Raphaelite color palette. Her expression is one of longing and captures the emotional feel of a young heart in love.
Animal Category: Julie Bell, also from Pennsylvania, should be singled out as winning the most awards in any one competition ARC has ever held, winning First Place in the Imaginative Realist Category, First and Third Place in the Animal Category, and two purchase awards. She also received Best Portrait Runner Up, two additional honorable mentions, and has emerged as one of the top artists of her generation. Her first place Animal Category Winner titled “Pride of Philadelphia” shows three lions, two male and one female bathing and resting in the sun. The oversized cats seem quite docile and domestic in this pastoral scene, though the viewer cannot forget the power these majestic creatures possess.
Her third place win in this same category is titled “Secrets,” a close up of a horse’s head, its mane flaring in the sun and wind. Its eyes make contact with the viewer as it turns to a fellow horse, its mouth slightly parted. It seems to be whispering to its companion, most likely about the viewer. This horse definitely knows something it is not sharing. All of Bell’s work is painted with an intense color palette and confident brush.
Second place in the animal category was awarded to Ami Badami, also from Pennsylvania, for the work “Three Chromatic Squawkers.” The two large bright blue and yellow parrots examine a trumpet, one looking quite intensely up at the shiny reflections and the other, who is perched on top, stares at the viewer. The whole painting is created as a trompe l’oeil, and gives the illusion of ripping away to reveal sheet music behind.
Imaginative Realist Category: This year was the first year ARC introduced the Imaginative Realist Category, which encompasses all fantasy, surrealist, historical and religious art.
Julie Bell’s first place win in the Imaginative Realist category entitled, “Leap,” is a life affirming work about seizing the day. The naked figure of a woman hovers on a rock far above the earth, appearing as though she is about to leap, hurling herself into the world below. Her eyes are closed as she reaches toward the heavens, the sunlight on her skin and the wind through her hair; she experiences the joy of life. Twisted around her is a fiery colored dragon that appears to be her protector as he stares and snarls at the viewer. Perhaps the dragon represents the dangers that can come with being a free spirit or is a warning to those who would try to inhibit the freedom of another.
Second place in this category went to a stylized yet dramatic painting, “Turbulence of Time,” by Agita Keiri of Scotland. This highly thought-out and carefully placed composition uses curved surrealistic lines and shapes creating violins and bows interlaced with two women with intensified and emphasized feminine muscular structures against a dark, yet moonlit sky. The painting is a perfect mix between realism, surrealism and 21st century sensibilities; a piece that appeals to any audience.
Third place went to a familiar name in the ARC Salon, Marina Dieul, a French Canadian with a flare for the unique. Her painting, “Bacchante 2,” shows a young Bacchus crawling out of a brass, rusted pipe, holding a small bunny. The child deity stares at the viewer and is clearly up to mischief as pipes are no place for a child to play. And yet, of course, Bacchus the elder was often accompanied by pipe playing pans…a different kind of “pipe play” altogether. The round life size painting will surprise any viewer who comes across it, as for a moment it will appear as though one has come face to face with a real child.
Still Life: First Place Still Life went to a Brazilian artist, Gilberto Geraldo, for a very traditional scene titled, “After Hunting.” This work is painted with the confidence and rendering of the best 19th century still life artists, and is of a subject matter not often tackled in the 21st century.
The painting depicts a dead pheasant and rabbit hanging from the ceiling with another bird, mushrooms, and a basket of berries below. When asked about his work, Geraldo said, “I’d like to take this chance to emphasize the importance of the traditional classic school and its foundations. The work done by the ARC is very special, presenting laurels to a new generation of classic artists, their works, and their ateliers. Gift, artistry and inclination, if they’re not nurtured every day with wisdom and knowledge, they create a hiatus between the artist and his work. For my painting, ‘After Hunting,’ the scene takes place in a typical hut built in the forest to give shelter to hunters, with the atmosphere of small rustic scenery and low lighting. For the coloring, I chose a restrictive palate that is in consonance with the season of the year: autumn/winter.”
Second place went to CW Mundy from India, for “The Train Station.” It is unlikely to mistake Mundy’s hand with another artist as it has a strong angulating quality to it that is all of its own. Mundy’s canvases appear to be filled with flying particles of light, not easily captured in a dark painting with a predominant use of brown and grey.
About the painting the artist says, “The two antique toy diesel train engines pictured in this painting are the famous early 1950′s Santa Fe and New York Central models. When I was a child, these were the two most sought-after engines that Lionel produced, and to this day, the most collectible. Children imagine and make up themes when they play with their toys. I did the same, at 67 years of age. Interacting antique toys with the typical antique Still Life accessories was the intent of this painting.”
Third place went to Jeff Legg from Colorado for “The Fallen.” The painting is a memorial to every soldier who has lost life in battle. An old-fashioned metal helmet lies where it has fallen, among the rocks and autumn leaves, the forgotten and lost remnants of an ancient war. The cold dead metal is juxtaposed with an unspoiled apple, the fruit of life, reminding the viewer of the fleeting quality of existence.
Sculpture: The final category in the ARC Salon is the Sculpture category. The First Place win went to Joseph F. Brickey of Utah, for his life size piece, “Manifestation.” The elderly man, naked except for rags, appears gripped by anguish, a tragic figure of Ugolino, Oedipus, or an elderly Orestes pursued by Furies. The sculpture is an embodied manifestation of desperation.
About himself as an artist, Brickey had the following to say: “I am a classicist in an anti-classical age, an optimist in an age of cynicism, a believer among the disillusioned, a conformist among droves of non-conformists. As a contemporary artist, I am incidentally unique and accidentally different…Yes, I believe I have found the old masters in part because I would not follow the pied piper… I wish to earn a place among that class of artists who transcend their time, who share not an age but an aesthetic, from the great masters of Antiquity to those of the Renaissance and beyond. In short, I wish to be counted among the Classicists. Not simply for matching their style, nor even their excellence, but for sharing their motivations, the ideology that begat classicism.“
Second place went to James Shoop from Wisconsin, for his “Struggle of Progress (Study for the National Monument).” Two figures joined at the back battle to wrench each other in opposite directions. One figure, determined and resolute as he charges forward, the other grasping to hold him back. The figures are stylized in a very American fashion, resembling marvel comic super heroes at battle.
Third place went to Connecticut artist Ira Reines for his multi-figured tower, “Transcend.” Five female figures, mostly nude, climb and twirl into the sky. The piece is a tour de force of engineering and composition, and brings to mind images of William Bouguereau’s “Oreades” or Gustav Vigeland’s “Obelisque.”
In addition to all this there were several ARC Staff awards and Chairman’s Choice Awards given to works that were felt to be under recognized by the judges as a whole. Also, several other awards were given out, such as Most Ambitious Work, which went to Michael C. Hayes; Best Portrait, which went to Scott Burdick; Best Nude which went to Shane Wolf; Best Social Commentary which went to Cesar Santos; and best Trompe l’oeil which went to Marina Dieul. To see a full showing of the finalists and winners go to www.artrenewal.org
About the quality of this competition as a whole ARC Chairman Fred Ross said, “My confidence for the future of the fine arts of painting, drawing and sculpture is surging in a manner and to a degree beyond what I ever dreamed would or could have been possible in my lifetime. This new era of art is now happening as we enter the 14th year of ARC’s history as an organization devoted to the preservation, appreciation and resurgence of Traditional Humanist Realism. After a hundred years of denigration and decline, a century of ridicule and suppression, when all art’s true potential was squelched, inhibiting the most talented of our fine artists and summarily excommunicating them from the art world; while mind numbing iterations of Modernism with blotches and splotches and dabbles and dribbles, blips, blobs, smears, tares, were called glamorous creations and lines and angles, circles and squares were called original and powerful imagery; where con-men and artists were joined at their mercenary hips, and all knowledge of the 500 years of Western Art were in full decline; suppressed, de-accessed and banished from the halls and walls of societies supposed centers of civilization, we now have returned to great art. Apparently the creativity of talented young people lay right below the surface, like a coiled spring waiting for someone to come along and release it. The Art Renewal Center is honored to have been a key player in doing just that.”
The ARC Salon continues to grow every year with greater and more diversified publicity and a continual increase in the number of artists entering. They are approaching the start of their 10th annual ARC Salon Competition, scheduled for 2013/2014. This is sure to be their largest competition yet with the largest amount of cash awards and publicity to date. Placing as a top winner will certainly give an artist his or her big break in the field. They will be accepting entries from the fall, 2013, through the beginning of 2014. If you are an artist, don’t miss out on your chance to compete.
Kara Lysandra Ross, the director of operations for the Art Renewal Center, is an expert in 19th century European painting.
Image List (in order)
First Place, Figurative Category:
Nick Alm, “Two Lovers,” oil on canvas, 29 1/2 x 39 1/2 in.
Best in Show:
Orley Ypon, “Interregnum,” oil on canvas, 60 x 90 in.
William Bouguereau Award:
Arantzazu Martinez, “The Little Mermaid (The Rescue),” oil on canvas, 90 x 50 in.
Plein Air Magazine Award and First Place Landscape Category:
Joseph McGurl, “Creation in Time and Space,” oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in.
First Place, Drawing Category:
Jason Brady, “Just a Game,” charcoal and white chalk on paper, 23 x 13 in.
First Place, Animal Category:
Julie Bell, “Pride of Philadelphia,” oil on linen, 36 x 24 in.
First Place, Imaginative Realism Category:
Julie Bell, “Leap,” oil on board, 40 x 30 in
First Place, Still Life Category:
Gilberto Geraldo, “After Hunting,” oil on canvas 62 x 37 in.
First Place, Sculpture Category:
Joseph Brickey, “Manifestation,” clay 50 x 37 x 32 in.