Twelfth Musing: “Reflections: A Word with Many Meanings“
As Debbie Smith begins her twenty-fifth year as owner/operator of The Smith Gallery & Fine Custom Framing, in their 190 Reno Avenue, New Cumberland, location, she wanted the celebration to be worthy of this milestone. It was celebrated in style with a juried exhibition opening showcasing the work of thirty- seven artists taking part in the show entitled Reflections.
Reflections seems as though it would be an easy theme for creating a piece of art, but when you look at the word reflect, just by adding different endings it can be a noun, a verb, an adjective, or an adverb. Which avenue does the artist use to create his or her work of art for this exhibit? Is it the reflection one sees in a mirror, a body of water, a glass window? Or is it the meditative form of reflection as a verb in which we look inside ourselves and reflect upon our life? Could it perhaps be portrayed as someone else reflecting into another person via esoteric or spiritual means? The creative artists who took part in this show came up with varied themes for Reflection, including the ones mentioned above.
Even more difficult, how does one even begin to judge this creative assortment of ideas? The artists were told to ‘Create a painting which, to you, is an example of Reflection.’ In the canvas, paper, and paint of each of these creations, lives the soul of the artist who created their piece. And, indeed, thousands of famous thinkers, writers, and artists have been quoted regarding what reflection means to them and each one is different; some are a world apart.
As I write the various musings regarding the world of art and its inhabitants, I always speak to the truth that art creates a personal response in not only the viewers but also within the artists as their truth and soulful emotions become one with the canvas or paper.
So, back to the original question of how can one judge various pieces of art and pick a winner or winners – I don’t believe it can be done through studying techniques, brush strokes, interesting use of mediums, or even style. It comes down to each viewer, studying the pieces and opening his or her soul to the story that they see emerging from the art. Each story will be different and each viewer will respond differently from other viewers looking at the same piece of art. Reactions will vary according to the viewers’ life experiences, emotional makeup, ideas, and maybe something as simple as their particular mood in that particular moment. This means that even the judging becomes subjective as I’m sure various judges and viewers would choose differently than the choices made at many openings.
The paintings are as varied as the mediums and styles used by the artists. The first painting you may notice as you enter the Drake Gallery is the large painting on the far wall. It is a painting of a fortune teller looking into her crystal ball, seeking what is reflecting outward. In viewing it you may imagine you are also seeing the reflection of her client sitting opposite her. Maybe you can even picture yourself as that person sitting in front of the crystal ball. There are a few paintings in this exhibit that have used the theme of the esoteric in relaying the idea of reflection.
Some artists chose to reflect upon themselves and their world through memories, experiences, thoughts, and news worthy events. A few artists used shadows along with reflections to create the tension of blocking light and bouncing light between these two opposite occurrences.
Other artists used bodies of water as the reflective tool in their paintings creating beautiful landscapes, skyscapes, and seascapes. Another artist created a collage from mixed items that created the reflection of ‘hope’.
Various color palettes are used in this exhibit from a black and white done in India ink and another in black and white acrylic to varied bold combinations of colors creating energetic canvases. Other paintings are done in subtle colors creating quiet and serene works. The theme of reflections runs the gamut of ideas in this show.
Take a morning or afternoon to visit Smith Gallery and view this beautiful show, let your mind wander and then settle into what reflections means to you and then pick your own favorites.
The following are the results of the judging announced at the opening. Talk with the staff at Smith Gallery and let them know what paintings are in your top four and why.
First place: Reflections on an Autumn Night, watercolor by Donna Berk Barlup: The focal point for me are the two larger shapes reaching up from the soft yet vibrant leaves into the strong blue background. These shapes reflect off each other in tones of bronze and silver, which brought to mind the idea of tempering through time; silver is the new, which in time is tempered into a bronzed and aged patina.
Second Place: Where Flowers Bloom, So Does Hope, pastel by Karen Ferrick: The red flowers create the energy that drew me in toward the water. The rest of the painting is subtle but forceful as my eye meandered through the curving waterway and whatever the rest of the landscape held, knowing I could return at any time to the flowers, and the hope.
Third Place: Stand By Me, mixed media by Sarah Drum: Such a lovely, quiet painting but the message for me was powerful. I see new life and older life, the large bird perhaps watching over the baby but contemplating the time when those roles may be reversed. I see a meditative reflection of holding the space while another prepares to take over.
Honorable Mention: Reflecting Pool, oil by Jule Riker: The strength of the small building sitting quietly in a sunlit field, the pond reflecting back the beauty of the day. I knew the ripples in the water could possibly change the reflected image, perhaps even distorting it causing it to waiver. But, the pond will become calm, the reflected image will change again, and the small building will remain strong and only the reflection will change.
A brief history of The Smith Gallery & Fine Custom Framing: The Smith’s Framing was started by Debbie’s parents, Polly and Sig Smith and run from their home at Good Hope Farms in Mechanicsburg. It was later moved to a beautifully restored Victorian home in New Cumberland and renamed The Smith Framing and Victorian Galleries. In 1998 the business moved to its current location, Debbie became the owner, operator of The Smith Fine Custom Framing and Gallery. As Debbie began her quest to “Put art and artists forward,” the newest rendition of this more than thirty-five-year-old staple has metamorphosed to become The Smith Gallery and Fine Custom Framing. Reflecting back to reflect forward!