There is something special about works on paper. The delicacy of the materials and the finesse required to manipulate them, renders these works all the more amazing, whether it requires the steady hand of a graphite artist or the patience and planning of photo processing.
Nearly 75 entries culled from 700, are on display in the 39th annual national exhibition at the Brand Library Art Galleries in Glendale. The show is titled "Brand 39, Works on Paper: Finished/Unfinished," and the artwork included is that done only on paper.
Juror Gloria Williams Sander had the daunting task of reviewing the body of work, refining to an exhibitable number and assigning awards. The resultant exhibition of paper sculpture, photography and oil pastels is resplendent with creativity that is really quite amazing.
The juror awarded 13 monetary awards from four categories; memorial awards, donor awards, patron awards and the Brand Associates Purchase Award. In addition, seven non-monetary rewards were bestowed in memory of Robert Brown, and 11 in memory of Howard Jacobson.
Just as the title implies, some of the artwork is completed, some not. To fully communicate an artistic expression with a minimum of information is an extraordinary skill. A renaissance sculpture with a figure still emerging from the block of marble was not considered unfinished but was actually considered "enough." According to Sander, these less-evolved works are equally as praiseworthy as those pieces brought forth to great detail.
Her choice for the ultimate award, the Brand Associates Purchase Award, is one of the more "evolved" works in the show and absolutely worthy. Ryoko Yokohama's "Self Portrait" (oil pastel on paper) is an energetic expression, from the bold yellow and red of her garment to the scribbled script that serves as background. Yokohama rendered her face in motion as though violently shaking her head, blurring details. Her arms are pinned behind her, stabilizing her torso, while her "brain" is vigorous.
The mental meanderings scribbled behind her suggest chaotic mismanagement of her thoughts. We have all been there. Though it is a self-portrait, it relates on a personal level. It is fun, charming and skillfully executed.
A paper sculpture titled "Zephyr" (West Wind) by Linda Serrao struck me as one of the most fascinating in a roomful of fascinating pieces. Were it not for the peaceful beauty of the facemask and the gravity-defying paper hair flowing gracefully behind, it would resemble the decorative maiden carved onto the bowsprit of an ancient sea-going vessel. It is, however, visually and physically delicate. It is a fascinating if not astonishing achievement.
There were, unfortunately, not enough awards to go around. I applaud Sander for her discernment. It is nearly unimaginable on one hand, to have been in a position to make these choices, yet quite an honor, on the other. Bravo to the Brand staff, donors and the Associates of the Brand Library and Art Center Executive Board for another wonderful event.
Terri Martin is an art historian, artist and art critic.
What: Brand 39, Works on Paper: Finished/Unfinished, 39th annual National Exhibition
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, until Nov. 5
Where: The Brand Library and Art Center, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale