Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Still Life Painting Competition: The Results

The competition was fierce. 
The final day of the competition flew by. As the lunch break began the sounds of Eye of the Tiger echoed in the studios and to welcome the artists back for their final four hours we played Chariots of Fire. While the painters continued to add finishing touches and elements (an egg yolk, shrimp tentacles, a rose...), pizza was ordered from Slice, a keg was procured from our neighbors, Rockaway Brewing Company and bouquets of paintbrushes were arranged for the winners and finalists thanks to our friends at Trekell Professional Art Supplies.

The Competition Judges with the winning painting (from left):
 Tony Curanaj, Sarah Lamb & William H. Gerdts
As guests gathered in the gallery and the lounge, our three judges undertook the challenge of choosing the three winners. They returned to each painting several times, initially examining the painting next to its set-up. They first checked to make sure each composition had at least three of the mystery objects. They then evaluated the works based on the drawing, composition, perspective, light effect and paint quality. They also judged each as an overall work of art and whether it speaks to the aesthetic values of the classical still life tradition.

The Awards Ceremony at Eleventh Street Arts was packed and live streamed on Instagram.

Tony Curanaj thanked the artists for taking "the time to come here and do something that is incredibly intimidating...there's no safety net in what you did, getting in there, working from life and having a very short amount of time to do it - considering how long some of us spend on some of the work we do to get it to such an excellent quality. But hopefully we are all influencing each other to raise the bar higher and bring the artistic idea of what we are doing to a very high level. And maybe even down the road adding and contributing to society in a positive way -- so that our little part may be a very small whisper that could start something that could be very big down the road."

Sarah Lamb added that "every painting was exquisite and gallery worthy. There is something beautiful to be said about each and every painting - there were moments in each that were exquisite. The top three was the hardest thing for all of us. We went back and forth and narrowed it down and it was not easy."

The judges discussed and debated and ultimately reached their decisions. After thanking our team of competition monitors and staff at GCA, the winners were announced:

1st place winning $10,000: Alex Venezia aka The Milk Carton Kid
2nd place winning $3,000: Sam Hung aka The Postman
3rd place winning $2,000: Julie Beck aka King Chroma

Alex's Grandma was beaming the rest of the night!
The studios were then opened and everyone viewed the final paintings, set-ups and toasted all of the competitors on an incredible collection of paintings. The work ethic we witnessed all week was raising the bar inspiring. Congratulations!!!

We'll be sharing photos of the final paintings shortly after the July 4th holiday. Some paintings need to dry, get varnished and a few artists have decided to make a couple adjustments to their work based on feedback they sought out from the judges. We also want to take higher quality photos than our process shots. But we highly recommend that you come see the paintings in person. We'll have two more public viewing events during LIC Arts Open Third Thursday Gallery nights: July 20 & August 17th at Eleventh Street Arts.

In the meantime, enjoy the artists at work:

1st place winner Alex Venezia (The Milk Carton Kid)

2nd place winner: Sam Hung (The Postman)

3rd place winner: Julie Beck (King Chroma)

Liz Beard (Bristles & Coffee)

Lucas Bononi (Nollie-Tre)

Kevin Müller Cisneros (Mondavi)

Emma Hirst (Rupert Everton)

Brendan Johnston (Winckel Man)

Rodrigo Mateo (SNOC)

Ron Richmond (Dedalus)

Justin Wood (Mealy Potatoes)

Dale Zinkowski (Sir Mix-a-Lot)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Still Life Painting Competition: Day Five

We're currently in the last hour of the competition...even though we're posting yesterday's progress photos.

In the last two days, several artists added some objects to their set-ups and paintings. But almost all of the artists had suitcases, boxes, and bags full of objects they didn't use. Here's a list of some of the things that didn't make the cut:
  • My white taxidermy mouse. His name is Napoleon. He has a big ego. He didn't make it in because he had an attitude and was reprimanded.
  • A bag of flour. It just didn't look right. I tried it out but it was too big and clunky.
  • I only brought one object and I used it. People were weirded out by it at the airport.
  • A $40 hunk of prosciutto from Whole Foods. It didn't seem to go with my set up. That and the pigs head (that I didn't buy).
  • A coyote skull. It would have dominated the composition both physically and thematically.
  • I brought variations on the objects that I used. But the mystery objects worked in my favor really well.
  • A candle holder. I really wanted to paint it but it just didn't fit.
  • I brought my bedside plant and didn't use it. But I when I walk into my competition space every morning at 9 my plant greets me with a feeling of home and all the growing we both have done. I didn't use it because the lavender fit better in my composition.
  • A fox figurine. I remembered how hard it was to paint the last time I painted it.
  • A peach branch. I was either going to go with a seafood theme or a peach theme. I went with seafood.
  • Well, I had a whole second set-up that I abandoned. I just didn't like it. It was too dark.
  • A portrait of Andre - a sculpture by Zoe. I had it in there on Day One but it distracted from the rat. It was a little too heavy on the right side.
Join us tonight in person from 7-9pm for our Awards Ceremony or watch the announcement of the winners live on our instagram feed. But since we're going to take higher quality photos of all the works, we won't be able to post the final images of the paintings immediately.

And now works-in-progress from yesterday, Day 5:

Day 5: Sir Mix-a-Lot

Day 5: Mealy Potatoes

Day 5: King Chroma

Day 5: Winckel Man

Day 5: Rupert Everton

Day 5: SNOC

Day 5: The Milk Carton Kid

Day 5: Nollie-Tre

Day 5: Bristles & Coffee

Day 5: The Postman

Day 5: Dedalus

Day 5: Mondavi

Monday, June 26, 2017

Still Life Painting Competition: Day Four

While NYC was buzzing with the Pride parade on a beautiful day, Day 4 of our competition started with some slow Sunday morning trains and ended with a competition within a competition: bowling. Fears of fingers getting smashed or wrists sprained did not manifest themselves but we did have some winners and well, some gutter balls. First, second and third place are revealed at the end of this post.

But first, let's unveil the mystery objects. I asked Competition Judge, Tony Curanaj to talk a little about his choices to inspire and possibly challenge our 12 painters.

"I wanted a little bit of variety but I didn't go so off the wall because I did really want to give everyone the ability to do their best work. I didn't want anyone to feel like they were shoehorned in by an object. They are all relatively common items -- a mix of manmade and organic. I played a bit with color and shapes that I thought would be interesting. They also have the ability to be manipulated and customized.

The outside of the tomatillos can be peeled, the fruit itself can be cut.
The tissue paper can be crushed, crumbled or shaped to be a little more creative.
Things can be put inside of the jar and/or the bowl including honey from the Honey Bear."

(Note: The honey bear is an homage to our Executive Director, Justine Kalb, who has previously commented that she would like a wall of Honey Bears in her office.)

Each competitor had to use three out of the seven possible mystery objects. They were guaranteed two eggs, two tomatillos, two blocks and a pack of tissue paper but if they chose one of these items as one of their objects, they could choose to use just one of them. If they chose the Honey Bear as an object, they couldn't just use the honey inside. But if they were already using three other objects, then they could also use the honey instead of the bear. If you look at the photos (excuse the glare) some artists did put honey in their glass jar. And as reported earlier, one artist did go around asking fellow competitors if there were extra eggs after knocking over his/her own set-up and breaking some eggs. Luckily, some competitors were able to oblige.

All seven of the objects are being used in at least one painting but none of the objects made it into all of the paintings.

The 7 Mystery Objects: Heirloom blue eggs, small glass jar, tomatillos, kids' blocks, small ceramic bowl, tissue paper in a variety of colors and a honey bear.

And now onto Day 4: Works-in-Progress. We really encourage you to see the paintings in person, because the iPhone is not an accurate substitute but the photos can at least give a sense of process.
Final Lunchtime Viewing Tuesday, June 27th from 12-1pm (note new time!) and the Awards Ceremony Tuesday from 7-9pm.

Day 4: Mondavi

Day 4: The Milk Carton Kid

Day 4: Rupert Everton

Day 4: SNOC

Day 4: The Postman

Day 4: Bristles & Coffee

Day 4: Dedalus

Day 4: Mealy Potatoes

Day 4: King Chroma

Day 4: Winckel Man

Day 4: Nollie-Tre

Day 4: Sir Mix-a-Lot

Bonus Round: The 2017 Still Life Painter Bowling Competition

Liz Beard bowling the form.
Just around the corner from GCA, there's now Gutter Bar bowling alley. We took over lanes 5 & 6 and after some technical difficulties, lane 6 was computer scored while lane 5 had to go really old skool with pen and paper but competitor Julie Beck was on it.

Over in lanes 3 & 4 were some rowdy local brewers including our neighbor, Chris Cuzme, of Fifth Hammer Brewing. Chris and some friends have played jazz at several of our gallery openings. We're really looking forward to their own grand opening - hopefully before the end of the summer.

Over pitchers of beer, everyone showed off their own finely-tuned techniques, as Emma Hirst catapulted the ball down the lane with both hands, often with great success. But even with years of training, sometimes our painters felt like the pins were being uncooperative on purpose, because all but one would get knocked down. Justin Wood took some time warming up but then struck out ahead with back to back strikes. He swooped into second place with a score of 125 just beating out Brendan Johnston at 123 and Kevin Müller Cisneros at 122.

And the winner...with the speed of lightning and rumble of thunder...Ron Richmond, took home all the glory with a score of 132. Alas, winning The 2017 Still Life Painter Bowling Competition doesn't add any bonus points to the judges' scoring tomorrow...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Still Life Painting Competition: Day Three

At the end of Day 3, the competitors had a meeting to discuss the timing of the final day of the competition. While each spot is roughly the same, there are some variations since the studios are natural light. A few experience some hot spots in the morning, which they deflect with foam core but then in the last stretch each day, it gets darker. Therefore, the artists will start and finish an hour earlier on Tuesday, in order to provide judges with an experience that is more representative.

Revised Tuesday's hours:
Morning session: 8am - 12noon.
Lunchtime viewing:12noon - 1pm
Afternoon session: 1-5pm
The judging will then commence in private.
The Awards Ceremony hours remain 7-9pm. We plan to make the winners announcement at 7:30pm. Please also join us in the gallery for the final viewing of Self Portrait at Eleventh Street Arts.

After the meeting, the artists again relaxed in the lounge and shared a little of what they've been listening to while they work. Here's a compilation:

Mac DeMarco - "He's very chill."

80's Rock n Roll - "There was some Hall and Oates in there today."

Norma Jean, Simon & Garfunkel, The Birds "Oh, I had some Birds in my playlist too."

"A talk on postmodernism in Spanish - it was a Mexican critic talking about art."

Górecki - "He's a Polish composer." "Classy."

Cosmo Sheldrake - "He's got like 6 songs that I've been playing."

Deathcore - "a sub genre of death metal, it's slower and very Los Angeles. The chaos, the white noise, makes the process very soothing. The pace is the same as classical music and I get the same energy with both."

"I tried listening to some Bon Iver at first but the feeling of something over my ears made it too hard to concentrate. So now I hear some noise in the room, coughing and chairs moving."

True Crime Podcasts, Beyoncé, Mobb Deep "RIP Prodigy"

"A lot of sighing from me and the other people in my studio."

And two artists said they can sometimes hear Tony Curanaj who is teaching a workshop in one of our studios. They joked that "I'm trying to gain some advice" and "I've learned three different ways to transfer."

As a judge, Tony's not allowed to enter the studios, view the progress online or discuss the competition with his students, participants or other artists. The students can attend the lunchtime viewings and their workshop ends the same day as the competition. Be sure to check out the podcast Tony co-hosts with GCA Instructor Ted Minoff: Suggested Donation

And now works-in-progress photos from Day 3:

Day 3: Winckel Man

Day 3: Dedalus

Day 3: Mealy Potatoes

Day 3: Nollie-Tre

Day 3: Mondavi

Day 3: Rupert Everton

Day 3: SNOC

Day 3: Sir Mix-a-Lot

Day 3: King Chroma

Day 3: The Postman

Day 3: Bristles and Coffee

Day 3: The Milk Carton Kid