OJAI VALLEY MUSEUM AWARDS CASH PRIZES TO REGIONAL ARTISTS

by Myrna Cambianica on November 1, 2010

Ojai Day was drawing to a close at 4:00 in the afternoon of October 16th, but there was one more celebration in store for the day at the Ojai Valley Museum. A lively crowd, already in a festive mood from Ojai Day, gathered in the main gallery for the awards ceremony of the third annual Ojai Celebrates Art exhibit. This is a regional southern California exhibit, with media selected for high standards of excellence by an in-house museum committee. Out of 57 artists, eight were chosen for top awards by outside judges:  Tim Schiffer, Director of the Ventura County Museum, and Khaled Al-Awar, owner of Ojai’s Primavera Gallery. Standing in front of a group of dramatic paintings, Ojai Museum Director Michelle Pracy announced the awards and presented the cash prizes to the winners.

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The $300 first prize went to Herbert Rosenkrantz for his large-scale photographic print, “Bristlecone Pine.” Rosenkrantz, a recently retired attorney, illustrates the scope of the exhibit, which invited both emerging and professional artists in a great variety of media.  Working with newly acquired skills in digital photography and Photoshop, he converted a color photo to black and white, and then made an intricate series of enhancements and adjustments in every shade of grey.  The result is a marvelously textured expression of the tree’s convoluted surface, like the character lines in a human face.

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Dávid Sipos, custom woodworker, accepted the $200 second prize for his masterwork, “Cherry Coffee Table.”  Inspired by the timeless simplicity of Japanese aesthetics, Sipos has studied and practiced woodworking with heirloom tools and techniques since 1991.  He constructed the table from Eastern cherry wood using mortise and tenon joinery with remarkable skill – the legs fit into the base so precisely that no metal fasteners are needed.  This jewel of a table marries the Japanese design principle of “less is more” with virtuoso craftsmanship and artistry.

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The $100 third prize was awarded to Marsha Braun, whose “Altamont Pass” is an acrylic painting of a wind farm set in the midst of a pasture complete with cows.  Braun captures the juxtaposition of the whirling blades of the wind turbines and the peaceful bucolic scene. The ecological statement is further incorporated into the painting with the use of a salvaged piece of cardboard as the surface. Although the painting was developed in her studio from on-site watercolor sketches and photos, it has the spontaneous brushwork and irresistible energy of a plein-air. The artist’s innovative treatment of the turbines creates an effect of irresistible energy.

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The judges awarded five honorable mentions: Richard Flores, “Stacked Teapots,” Doris Gilbert, “Wishful Thinking,” Susan Guy, “Shelf Road,” Hanna Lore Hombordy, “New Growth,” and Jill Smith Shanbrom, “Fly or Fall.”

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Fred Kidder, the museum’s Artistic Director, along with Roger Conrad, Exhibit Designer, assembled many different media – painting, mixed media, photography, as well as ceramics, glass, fabric, metal, wood, and a light-box – so that similar themes are grouped together, making it easy to “read” the exhibit as one travels around the gallery.

All of the artwork in the exhibit is for sale, and 30 percent of the purchase price will be donated to the museum. The Otto and Vivika Heino collaborative collection of master ceramics continues in the gallery. There are new additions to the inventory, many of which are for sale.

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Ojai Celebrates Art III can be viewed through December 31st, so there will be many opportunities over the next two months to see this wonderful exhibit. The Ojai Valley Museum is open Thursday and Friday 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 12:00 Noon to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $1 for children 6-18, free for children 5 and under. For further information please contact the museum at 640-1390.

Writer/Contributor: Letitia Grimes
Photographer: Fred Kidder

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