All-Member 2020 Awards

Awards for the 2020 WVWS All-Member Exhibition were announced on Friday evening, Nov. 6, at Holler Gallery, 900 Mercer St., Princeton, WV.

The annual All-Member Exhibition will be on display at Holler through Jan. 9, 2021. The gallery is open Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Best of Show award, selected by judge Ellen Elmes, was “Maddie” by Jan Van Egmond of Charleston.

The Joe Sweeney People’s Choice Award can be voted on until December. The gallery has a ballot box in which visitors can place votes, and the gallery is also taking votes via the show gallery that they have posted on the Holler Gallery Facebook page.

Video of awards

Holler Gallery interior images

Click HERE to open the slideshow of gallery photos

Award Gallery (judge’s comments at bottom)

Paintings that won awards in the exhibit are featured below:

Best of Show — Jan Van Egmond — “Maddie”
Award of Excellence — Jamie Lester — “Leicester Light”
Award of Merit — Katy Crim — “Autumn Afternoon”
Honorable Mention — Jane C. Michael — “Fragmites and Fences”
Honorable Mention — Rita Montrosse — “Along the Fault Line”
Jean Whistler Call Memorial Award — Nancy Maunz — “Of the Earth”
All-Member First-Time Exhibitor Award — Kathleen Snoderly — “He Lived His Dreams”
Joe Sweeney People’s Choice Award — John Coffey — “A Monument to Days Gone By”

Judge’s Comments

It has been a pleasure to serve as judge for the West Virginia Watercolor Society All-Member Exhibition 2020. As a watercolor “traditionalist” of sorts, I see in the overall high quality of the works submitted that many member artists are skilled in the application of the watercolor medium in its pure essence. By that I mean allowing the transparent quality of the paint to bring light, layered depth, and atmosphere to the composition and content. These are what I call “clean” watercolors, unfettered by too much paint and opaqueness.

A good example of such a painting is Jan Van Egmond’s “Maddie,” to which I awarded Best of Show. It appears at first sight as a very simple painting in subject matter and composition, but it is just that less-is-more aspect of the painting that makes it so extraordinary. As a fellow watercolorist I know, as many of you do, the scary feeling of holding your breath while working wet-on-wet magic to achieve such satisfying results as Jan Van Egmond has here: the soft and light-filled blended values of baby skin; the carefully composed, yet simplistic shape – clearly a hat – filled with sky-like washes (a world in itself!); the crisp, brightly lit edge of the sleeve left untouched by blended, patterned shadow in the wash of the baby’s dress. And, of course, the white gleam in her eyes is capable of stopping in their tracks any grandparent, gallery viewer, or seagull passing by!

Other paintings I chose for awards exhibited similar technical skill and expressive ability to produce dynamic artworks. Jamie Lester’s “Leicester Light,” to which I gave the Award of Excellence, and Katy Crim’s “Autumn Afternoon,” given the Award of Merit, are two other wonderful examples of infusing such atmosphere into a subject that it becomes a “walk-in” painting. These paintings invite our senses to feel the deep contrasts in the air and terrain, squint from reflected light, and hear the distant church tower bells or rift of wind in the trees.

Jane C. Michael’s Honorable Mention “Fragmites and Fences” notably achieves sound vibes of rustling grasses and distant breaking waves due to a skilled textural mix of soft sand and sky contrasting against rough, jumbled movement of grass and sea. For the other Honorable Mention I chose Rita Montrosse’s “Along the Fault Line,” also remarkable in its sense of time and place, but in a much more abstract realm of heart and mind and gut. As in van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” where one can choose to focus on the suspended doom of a chaotic sky or on the promise of joyful celebration in the same chaotic sky, it’s up to the viewer of Montrosse’s painting to believe in the “bridge” to a hopeful blue-sky box, or to fear the fragility of that same crossing, and hence, a fall into a chasm of despair. At least, that’s my interpretation against the backdrop of our precarious time!

And last, but not least, the Memorial Award I chose to give to Nancy Maunz for “Of the Earth” and the First-Time Exhibitor Award I have given to Kathleen Snoderly for “He Lived His Dream”: the first painting because of its unique combination of watercolor glazes and organic line used compositionally to swirl us in wonder around nature’s small gems; and the second painting by a new member because of its narrative skill in visual storytelling that provides the viewer with enough representation of a real life, but also enough left to the viewer’s imagination to invite personal speculation on that life and those dreams.

In conclusion, congratulations to all of you in your exploration of the wonders and possibilities of water media. Thank you for inviting me to discover new pathways of painting with you!

– Ellen Elmes