American Watercolor Society: 146th Annual Traveling Exhibit

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Holcombe_13The Alexandria Museum of Art is hosting, among other shows, the “American Watercolor Society: 146th Annual Traveling Exhibit.”  For those who think that watercolors are limited to boring still lives and bucolic scenes in soft, pastel colors, think again!  This fine collection of works runs the gambit from the exquisite representational to the frankly abstract.  There are subject matters from the intimate to the grandiose, and everything in between.


Serge Hollerbach’s “Beach Memories,” demonstrates a combination of realism and abstraction, a mixture found in other works, such as “Deconstructing a Passing Reflection” by Mark Mehaffey and “April in Central Park” by John Salminen.  Several artists created works of pure abstraction, such as Elaine Daily-Birnbaum’s “Double Shadow,” or Ribert McIntyre’s “My Blue Chair.”


Other realistic artists, of which there are many, chose subjects as diverse as Chen-Khee Chee’s “Koi 2012 No. 6,” with its oriental sensibility, to James Maria’s “Meditation on Promise and Providence: Ashley, Pennsylvania,” an astonishing work portraying the rust and ruin of post-industrial American.  The luminosity of watercolor results in a Giorgio de Chirico-like landscape, “Bull’s Head, Six a.m.” by Bill Teitsworth, who also evokes Edward Hooper in his choice of a deserted street scene.


[caption id="attachment_1622" align="alignright" width="234"]Linda Baker "Afternoon Breeze" Linda Baker “Afternoon Breeze”[/caption]

Many of the artists remain realistic, but use a looser, more fluid technique, such as Linda Baker’s “Afternoon Breeze” or Stephen Quille’s coldly blue “Late Light Along the Ridge Trail.”  Such fluidity not only allows unexpected combinations of color on the work, but also invites the viewer to participate by using their own imagination.


These works contrast with Elaine Bower’s “Delta Reflections,” that, while being very tightly controlled and realistic, still allow the viewer the sensation of freedom while soaring above the California delta.  This work, both in subject matter and treatment, resembles the amazing landscapes of the California master, Wayne Thiebaud, who has influenced many West Coast artists.


The show is well hung, with obvious thought given to the juxtaposition and grouping of certain works.  The only suggestion would have been adding the dates of the works to the labels, since it helps to situate them in a historical perspective, despite the timeless aspect of many.


David J. Holcombe, M.D.


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Dr. David Holcombe has demonstrated a life-long interest in the arts.  Starting with art courses at U.C. Davis during the turbulent 70’s, he continued painting and writing for the next five decades.  His works have been accepted in many local, regional and state juried shows and are found in collections all over the world.


He is one of TicketCentral’s volunteer bloggers for the 2013-2014 season.