Its members helped found the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences — now the Chrysler Museum of Art — in 1933. Nearly a decade earlier, they were staging regular meetings to develop local talent as well as frequent exhibits to promote it.
Hampton's Charles H. Taylor Arts Center.
In addition to the group's 2011 Juried Exhibition, the collection includes an invitational show featuring four prize winners from its 2009 exhibit and a solo show by Newport News painter Slavko Tirkajla — the winner of the group's 2010 juried exhibit. All told, it boasts more than 100 paintings, prints, photographs and other works, including many outstanding examples.
Most of the artists are represented by only one or two pieces, but some — such as 2011 First-Place winner Barbara Henning-Loomis of Chesapeake and 2011 Merit Award winner Gemma B. Wallace of Carollton — crop up more often as you explore the galleries.
What results is the chance to see some splendid individual images — such as Hampton artist Willard Gellis' Second-Place etching, "In the 'S' Aisle" — as well as groups of three, four and five works offering surprisingly deep and varied examples of artistic talent.
Henning-Loomis' arresting half-portrait of a nude man holding a fishing reel, for example, not only snagged the First Place award from juror Scott Howe —director of education and public programs at the Chrysler Museum — but also serves as the anchor for four other equally impressive works in a remarkable demonstration of skill and imagination.
Silhouetted against a raw unpainted canvas, the relatively ordinary yet imposing figure in "Reel" is punctuated by a vibrant red, sometimes lavender outline. Contained inside that boundary is passage after passage of pigment in which Hennig-Loomis uses mostly short, choppy brush strokes to model and animate the figure's skin.
A bald head, broad shoulders and big tanned forearms add striking elements of physical strength to the likeness — plus an interesting contrast to his pensive, noticeably detached expression. Then there's the muscular yet also deft way he holds the fishing reel in his large hands and noodles contemplatively at the crank with his fingers.
Together, these elements produce a very strong and distinctive portrait. Yet as you turn the corner to take in the next work, what you find is a clearly related yet also very different figure of a female nude. Reclining in a water-filled tub, the pregnant woman in "Robin's Egg" offers a great if unexpected companion piece in which Hennig-Loomis explores a definitively feminine experience with the same intelligence and skill as her masculine first-place canvas.
Just how deeply a group of three much smaller drawings will enrich your grasp of this artist's talent is probably better left to the individual beholder. Intimate, precise and mysterious, however, "I'm Not Wearing White," "Two Arrows" and "Ring Around" evoke almost as much by what they leave out as the meticulously rendered figures and details they put in.
Don't miss the chance to explore five scattered yet worthy images by Wallace, whose award-winning record as a portraitist must now be reckoned alongside her formidable strengths as a painter of interiors.
Whether it's the large, public space found in "Dinner at Clyde's" or the simpler, more intimate shrine conjured up from a tiny bathroom, Wallace knows how to distill color and near-abstract shape into impressive images of place and character.
Virginia Beach photographer Al Benas excels, too, in three large black-and-white landscapes depicting the rugged landscape and skies of the desert Southwest.
As simple and classic as they look, it's not until you try to capture something like "Cloudbanks, Sedona" for yourself that you realize just how elusive such deep, revealing views can be.
Erickson can be reached at email@example.com and 247-4783. Find him at dailypress.com/entertainment/arts and Facebook.com/dpentertainment.
Want to go?
Tidewater Art Alliance Juried Exhibition 2011
Where: Charles H. Taylor Arts Center, 4205 Victoria Blvd., Hampton
When: Through May 29
Online: Go to dailypress.com/taa2011 to see pictures from the show.