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Works Speaking of Life : The Brand Library gallery show offers an eclectic mix of 80 pieces giving voice to serious notions about the state of contemporary society.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In recent years, the Brand Library Art Galleries has limited its annual National Juried Competition to watercolors. But this year the gallery’s 23rd competition was opened to multimedia work, to “make the gallery available to all different kinds of artists,” gallery director Cindy Cleary said.

“Brand XXIII” presents an eclectic mix of artwork--drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, collage, assemblage, watercolor--which conveys heartfelt, often serious notions about the state of contemporary life. Though there may be hot trends, the exhibit suggests that artists continually veer away from them to express their concerns in decidedly personal ways.

More than 1,000 slides of work by artists from around the nation were submitted for the competition, which is jointly sponsored by the city of Glendale, the Associates of Brand Library and Art Galleries, Home Savings of America in Glendale and several community patrons.

Cleary said she was “very impressed by the quality of work received from entrants.”

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“Brand XXIII” juror Sylvia White, a Santa Monica art consultant and gallery director, selected 80 works by 63 artists. The 20 prizes and awards donated by community groups and individual sponsors totaled more than $5,000.

“As difficult as it is to judge artwork from slides, I reviewed hundreds of entries in the same way I look at actual art,” White writes in her juror statement.

“There is no way I can define what I was looking for. Style, composition, content, artistic integrity all play a role, naturally. But in each case I was looking for the artwork to speak to me, to reach out to me in some way, to touch my inner spirit or to stimulate my intellect. It is only in this way that I can define the unifying theme of this exhibition.”

Yossi Gourin’s large sculpture, “Man with Stone,” speaks to the weightiness of living. With a boulder suspended at the base of the “Man” by a rope attached to the figure’s mid-section, one feels the downward pull on him as well as his resistance to it.

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A writer’s struggle is evident in Shoshana Brand’s sculpture, “The Writer.” Inserted in the middle of the female torso is a box containing writings. This writer’s work obviously comes from the gut.

There is an airy, calm quality to the background of Laura Corallo-Titus’ acrylic-on-wood painting, “Pierce.”

But surrounding one of the many colorful circles that seem to float in the piece are six bullet-like cylinders, pointing in all directions. Though they disturb the peace of the work, they also add a powerful energy to the composition. Interestingly, another piece in the show, “Six Cylinder Artifact,” an assemblage by Pat Cox, contemplates the same issues.

Mallory Cremin evokes the agony of being homeless in “The Last Resort.” From photographs printed on various fabrics that are then quilted together, we see the dismal nature of a shelter, and perceive the loneliness and pain a person would feel in such a place.

Stuart Caswell seems to suggest fragmentation or duplicity in the meticulously drawn graphite-on-rag board, “The Conversation.”

The drawing is really divided into two images. At first glance, they seem to be halves of a picture that match up, but they aren’t. Even though the halves don’t match, one tends to see the work as one image: that of a woman holding old, black telephone receivers up to both ears. This film-noir-like piece’s mystery lurks not only in its content but in its richly rendered shadows.

Richard Patterson has carved a delightful assortment of wood and lacquer shapes with anthropomorphic qualities that he calls “Personal Icons.”

Carol Bodlander gives us her “Thoughts” in an atmospheric oil-and-mixed-media abstract painting. Dotted with round glass marbles, it communicates a sense of joyful wonder.

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The long, beam-like pieces of Arlene Waxman’s and Jim Palmer’s large constructed sculpture, “Color of Day for Color of Night,” jut toward the sky. Adorned with colorful geometric forms, they emit a jaunty sense of life on Earth.

Norma Jean Squires explores the atmosphere beyond our physical selves in “Extropy.” The 90-by-90-inch square contains swirling images that suggest Earth and other aspects of our solar system. These images form energetic patterns and transmit a vital, optimistic view of the unknown.

Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly about art for the Times.

Where and When

What: “Brand XXIII.”

Location: Brand Library Art Galleries, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale.

Hours: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Ends Jan. 11.

Call: (818) 548-2050.

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