Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2009 Dogwood Regional Fine Art Exhibit

The 2009 Dogwood Arts Regional Fine Arts Exhibit ~ Knoxville, TN
The Dogwood Arts Festival, in its 49th year, transformed downtown Knoxville into a month long springtime celebration this April with a "blue jean to black tie" festival offering something for everyone - dance, film, literary arts, music, theatre and visual arts. The Festival showcased the talented performing and visual artists, our fine art institutions, and the natural beauty of our region.


The Dogwood Arts Regional Fine Arts Exhibition was developed to showcase and award the finest artists in the region. Artists within a radius of 300 miles of Knoxville may enter. Fine art of all styles and genres from both emerging and established artists are selected for the exhibition by an established juror. Cash awards totaling $4,000 are awarded. Calls to artists begin in late November annually , and may be found at


The juror for the 2009 exhibit, which was held in the ground floor of Jo and Jimmy Mason’s spectacular loft residence at 128 Gay Street, was Karlota Conteras-Koterbay, director of Slocumb Gallery at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. From a pool of over 400 submissions from 4 different states, she selected 75 pieces (one being a 10-piece installation) from 66 Tennessee and North Carolina artists for the exhibit.

Dogwood Arts Director of Development Lynda Evans (center), and juror Karlota Contreras- Koterbay

First Award winner "The Pace of Our Feet", a 10 piece installation organized by Nashville band Quote
The range of work included a multi-disciplinary project installation developed by the Nashville band Quote. Eight artists produced ten works of narrative art that describe each of the ten songs on the band’s “The Pace of Our Feet” CD. The installation received the First Award of $2,000.
"Caspian Parade" by Casey Pierce from "The Pace of Our Feet"
"Until the Sunrise", by Amanda Ball from "The Pace of Our Feet"
"Repeat" by L.A. Bachman, from "The Pace of Our Feet"
Crystal Wagner received the Second prize of $1,000 for her multi-layer paper and print sculptures, "The Educe ofAesthetic Allure", and "The Butterfly Effect"
Detail of 2nd Award winner Crystal Wagner's "The Educe ofAesthetic Allure"
Crystal Wagner's "The Educe ofAesthetic Allure"
The $500 third award went to Melody Tienmann for “Butter Me”, and “Solitary Dinner”, mixed media sculptures utilizing ceramic, used coffee filters, and dogwood blossoms.
3rd Award winner Melody Tiemann's "Solitary Dinner"
Honorable mentions of $250 each went to Jorge Gomez del Campo for his 24’ x 6’ collage “War Cries”, and to David Underwood for his two composite photographs.
Honorable Mention "War Cries" by Jorge Gomez del Campo
Honorable Mention "Complex Structure" and "Cactus, Window and Doors" by David Underwood
Exhibit co-chair Denise Stewart-Sanabria, Melody Tiemann, Jamie Bennett, John Whitten, and Justin Tam from the "Pace of Our Feet" project, Crystal Wagner, Karlota Contreras-Koterbay, and Jorge Comez del Campo (photo Tinah Utsman)
The exhibit had a private Gala opening Thursday, April 2nd, consisting of the awards ceremony, two floors of catered wine, food, and music, and dancing. The Mason’s entire 20,000 square foot loft was open for touring by the 300 guests in attendance.
The exhibition opened to the public during Knoxville’s monthly First Friday Gallery Crawl. Quote performed live to a heavy stream of more than 1,000 people.

The exhibit ran for three more successive weeks, Wednesday- Saturday form 10-5. Though work is NOT required to be for sale, most was available for purchase, and sales were strong despite a weak economy.

Gala Evening (photo Tinah Utsman)
artists Robin Surber (back to camera) and Alison Oakes (in

artist John Simms (left) leads the dancing

Knoxville Museum of Art Director David Butler

Lynda Evans with Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam and his wife Crissy (photo Tinah Utsman)

Jorge Gomez del Campo, Brigid Oesterling, Tinah Utsman, and Heather Whiteside

Sharif Harb's hand crafted chocolates from Coffee and Chocolate (photo Tinah Utsman)

Looking at "Steam Punk Anatomy"

Hosts Jo and Jimmy Mason (photo: Tinah Utsman)

front view of exhibit

exhibit side view

back of exhibit space

Randomly selected work from the exhibit:

"Painted nails" and "Self Portrait" by Alison Oakes (oil on porcelain)

"Pink Lady Slippers" by Andrea Wilson (copperplate etching)

"All in the Family", by Meredith Lewis (ceramic), and 3 mixed media snow globes by Robmat Butler

"Photo Booth", by Greg Sand (photography)

"Butter me" by Melody Tiemann (ceramic and dogwood petals), and Still Life" by Robert Conliffe (ceramic)

"Untitled #3" from the Attempting Contact Series, by Jonathan Bagby (photography)

"The State of Affairs" by Jose Robert (oil on canvas)

"Father: An Essential Part of the Landscape", by Laura Chenicek (mixed media and cement)

"Mother Oxygen" by Leslie Whitaker Evans (steel), "Torso" by Robert Conliffe (ceramic), "Crísto Redentor" by John Cole Neuhoff (steel)

"Me" by Michael Murphy (photography)

"Cathedral" by Robert Bruce Scott (mixed media found objects)

"Bird Worth Knowing" by Robin Surber (mixed media)

" Steam Punk Anatomy #1" by Chris Szaton (glass, steel)

"The Three Graces of New Orleans", by Virginia Derryberry (oil on canvas)

"Whatever" by Coral Grace Turner (screen print on canvas)
Complete listing of participating artists:

Robin Surber
Erin Kramer
Gay Arthur
Randy Purcell
William Kahn
Jorge Gomez del Campo
Andrea Wilson
Melody R. Tiemann
Donna M. Conliffe
Robert G. Conliffe

Quote: L.A. Bachman, Casey Pierce, Kuntel Patel, Amanda Ball, John Whitten, Sara La, Myles Bennett, Julie Lee

Allison C King
Barbara Stokes
Laura Chenicek
Virginia Derryberry
Faye Burke
Ronald BurkeRonald
Bradi Dosdall
David Underwood
Joy Deeann Carson
Robert Bruce Scott
Jose Roberto
Judy Lavoi
Mary Britten Lynch
Greg Sand
Michael Murphy
Lani Asuncion
Sarah Kyle
Elliot Coatney
Laurel Panella
Gordon Fowler
Meredith Lewis
Chris Szaton
Marilyn Avery
Coral Grace Turner
Matt Salley
William Bradford
Bobbie Crews
Alison Oaks
John Cole Neuhoff
Virginia Derryberry
Shirley Brown
Jonathan Bagby
Heather Whiteside
Leslie Whitaker Evans
John Simms
Jessica Bledsoe
Crystal Wagner
Robmat Butler

Juror’s Talk: Dogwood Regional Fine Art Exhibition
by Karlota Contreras-Koterbay
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is an honor and my pleasure to be part of the Dogwood Arts Festival 2009 Regional Fine Art Exhibition. I would like to congratulate the board of directors and festival staff on its 49th year of celebrating the distinct and outstanding arts in the region. I would like to thank all the artists who have participated, the board members, staff, friends, donors and sponsors who made this event possible, especially the regional fine art’s exhibition Co-Chair Denise Stewart-Sanabria and Dogwood Arts Director of Development Lynda Evans for inviting me to be part of this highly anticipated event.

Early this March, I received the submission packets from Denise. As soon as I opened the files, it was as if I was struck by a burst of visual energy. It felt like looking at various kaleidoscopes at the same time and, for a brief time, I was distracted by the multitude of color, forms, shape and texture, it was wonderful! I love jurying exhibitions! After this euphoria has subsided a little, I took a deep breath knowing the gravity of the task at hand… selecting an elite group of works from more than 400 images submitted to bring forth, to quote Denise, “a cool show”. I hope that I’ve achieved some measure of success with my selections.

It is always difficult to avoid, but inevitably unavoidable, imposing one’s aesthetic judgment on the nature of juried exhibitions. While, perhaps, there might be some objectively verifiable aesthetic standards, to judge a show means, at its very root, to bring a set of subjective inclinations into the decision-making process. How do we justify the act of attributing value judgment? For many years, I have been on the other end of the table, having been an organizer of national juried art competitions for almost a decade in the Philippines and the United States, and I always start with a mission and an establishment of aesthetic criteria. Is this selection for the exhibition merely going to be a buffet, of sorts, of personal likes and dislikes? Or, more productively, is it possible to bring together, and bring out of, from such a wide variety of artistic manifestations, a cohesive vision? And, if so, what do we want to achieve and how are we going to materialize this vision?

As juror, the first step I had to take was to look at my discipline as a curator of contemporary visual art and use that as an anchor. Through the years of art management and working directly with artists, funding agencies, the public and private sectors, I have kept my sanity by upholding a curatorial philosophy that looks at ‘art’ as contextualized forms of communication or as forms of agency constructing individual and communal identities while employing diverse conceptual and aesthetic manipulations. Or, to put it another way, art has always been, for myself, in all of its variety, a product of its time while simultaneously a means of shaping its time; art is not merely a means of creating visual pleasure, but a powerful means of acting in the world.

For the Dogwood Regional Fine Art Festival Exhibition, 3 criteria guided me in the selection process in the hope of making a cohesive narrative out of the diverse styles, subject matter and technical prowess that are, indeed, rich and varied. Knowing, of course, that I could not include all work, I was hoping to achieve a representation of works that is consistent with the festival’s aims of celebrating the excellence and vitality of the arts of East Tennessee and the surrounding region. As part of this process, it was a conscious decision to select at least two of each artist’s work to encourage a more in-depth look rather than a mere glimpse for each artistic contribution.

The first of the three main aesthetic criteria that I have employed focused mainly on the successful union of concept and execution, finding a balance between the idea and technique resulting in a art object that is fundamentally true to its specific manifestation. As curator, it is paramount that I see masterful handling of media which executes an effort to visualize a conceptual reality that is often complex and profound; looking at art as forms of agency, the works I selected demonstrate the element of being visual narratives, as constructed forms that delve into the complex nature of social relations and identity, exploring the sense of place, reclaiming history and memory, and it is only in manifestation of the fullest capabilities of the specific medium that such efforts can be both admired as well as effective. What this means, in other words, is that, for myself, each specific example of a type of art (whether it be a painting, sculpture, photograph, et. cetera) brings its own set of problems and solutions, and many of the works herein display an acute awareness of the potential involved in the particularities of the individual type.

The second criteria is related to the audacity in conceptualization, giving merit to the experimental pursuit that is self-aware of the traditions of art history with a conscious effort either to refer to it as starting point or to subvert it. Again, to put it another way, I want to see art that interacts with art history, that is aware of its traditions and its contexts, but which, at the same time, strikes out in obvious or subtle ways to be different. The absolute need for originality on the part of the artist and their creative process is something that has been debated in recent years, but I, for one, still believe in its central role.

Last and equally important is the superior handling of media and technique that privileges the relevance of artistic skill. This is the easiest to absorb, in that technical skill and the creation of objects that are manifestations of such, is something that I find important, no matter how much or how little this is a fashionable position. For myself, evidence of technical skill is not simply the creation of something precious (though it can be that), but is also evidence of how serious the artist takes their responsibilities as artist, as individuals who shape and make the world.

In response to the first criteria, the power of visual images to stir deep psychological issues were manifested in various works such as the mixed media work by Laura Chenicek in “Father: Essential Part of Landscape” and “Siblings: Know Your Place” employing text and texture to schematize its meaning. While the feminist agenda is brought to the fore on the works Alison Oakes’ “Self Portrait” and “Painted Nails” with its fragmented body parts that provoke questions about concept of beauty as well as Virginia Derryberry’s oil painting entitled “Three Graces of New Orleans” featuring three women figures that engages the audience with their empowered gaze. Derryberry’s other large-scale painting “The Feast” makes us appreciate the traditional figurative painting and semiotics. In the work, gender relations and various symbolism alluding to it comes to mind, the dichotomy of light and dark, bounty/harvest and death/knowledge, female and male. This outstanding display of technical skill in the figurative painting tradition is also evident on “Cigar Boy” by local artist Bobbie Crews.

A few of the photographs included in the show either intrigues us with fragmented images of life stages such as (Greg Sand) “Photo Booth,” (Sarah Kyle) “How Am I Supposed to Feel” and (Michael Murphy’s) “Untitled I & III” or elicit some a sense of affinity to a place such as (Ronald Burke) “Col. Champan’s Place in Elkmont,” (Brandi Dostall) “Forgotten Farmhouse” and (William Kahn) “Dry Valley. Similarly, the paintings (Gay Arthur) “Industrial YMCA,” (Elliot Coatney) “Biltmore Laundry,” (William Bradford) “114 Cumberland” and

( Heather Whiteside) “Where State & Church Meets” are narratives of a nostalgic past, kept alive by the memory of its inhabitants.

The second and third criteria are mostly evident on the mixed media and three-dimensional works such as ( Chris Szaton) “Steam Punk Anatomy #1”, (Robert Bruce Scott) “Cathedral“, and the miniature snow globe sculpture (Robmat Butler) “Collision.”

Before I proceed with other works of art that have been selected for the top prizes, I would like to thank all of you again for this wonderful opportunity to be part of the Dogwood Arts Festival 2009 Regional Fine Art Exhibition.

The Honorable Mention award goes to the artist whose work is a composite of photographic images of places and architectural features that arouse a certain sense of place and belongingness with acute manipulation of media.

David Underwood, Honorable Mention, “Cactus, Windows and Doors” and “Complex Structure.”

Also noteworthy of an honorable mention is a very poignant mural collage work not just for its mere scale but for the juxtaposition vibrant color and raw texture that epitomize Latin art characterized by the passion and struggle of its people. The work grapples with the audience’ collective angst, pain and resolve. Jorge Gomez de lCampo, Honorable Mention, “War Cries”

The third prize goes to a sculptor ceramicist whose work are almost self conscious in their reference to art history, reminding us of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party and the surrealist Meret Oppenheim’s “Object in Fur” also known as ‘fur teacup and spoon’. Consistent with the employment of humor in the questioning of social norms, here, the artist offers more with the display of the technical prowess of the ceramicist. The concept is indeed justified by the masterful handling of material, a proud example of the craft-based fine art production in the region.

Melody Tiemann, 3rd Prize for “Butter Me” and “Solitary Dinner”

The second prize has a title most apt in the Kantian, disinterested definition of ‘beauty’. An excellent example of contemporary art, it employed simple and ordinary materials like cut-out paper and created a complex sculptural relief of organic shapes and texture that truly brings forth an aesthetic reaction. This highly formalistic work deserves the recognition for its virtuosic bravado in an origami-inspired way.

Crystal Wagner, 2nd prize, “The Educe of Aesthetic Allure” and “Butterfly Effect”

Finally for the Best of Show, I would like to express my appreciation to the multisensory aesthetic satisfaction that has brought the visual arts, music and literature in a beautiful concerto. My personal background working closely with community-based art and social activists shares an affinity with the collaborative work, mixed media installation. However, its merit should not only be measured by its production process but should be given credit to the individual contributions and its cohesion. There is always the danger of hodge podge on interaction art projects but this interaction piece is indeed successful in visualizing their subject in diverse styles while inviting the audience on board to appreciate the music of this region.

Quote (collective of 10 artists, represented by Justin Tamm), Best of Show, “Pace of Our Feet” installation.

We gratefully acknowledge:
ORNL Federal Credit Union
Pilot Corporation
Clayton Family Foundation
Michael McCoy DDS
Stokely Foundation