This year’s Art Walk Awards featured ten talented artists representing various neighborhoods in our richly talented city and a large range of medium and style. The City Arts staff chose nine of the pieces and a tenth piece was a selected by popular vote. Guests at the event had a chance to vote again for their favorite of the ten, and cash prizes were awarded to the creators of the first, second and third place artworks, thanks to the co-sponsorship of City Arts Magazine and Blue Moon. The artists of the works were present, giving event-goers the opportunity to have a dialogue regarding the work.
The finalists were a mix of well-known and up-and-coming artists: Juan Alonso, The Collagemonauts, Dominique™, Anita H. Lehmann, NKO, Richard Morhous, Caroline Roosevelt, Deborah Stachowic, Jerry Wingren and Allyce Wood.
Juan Alonso’s piece for the Art Walk Awards captures the artist’s journey on his return to his native Cuba for the first time in forty-five years. The photograph, entitled “Lavamanos,” was taken in the artist’s childhood home and speaks to the progression of time and its impact on space. The artist explains that, “Humanity is the driving force in my work,” and here the presence of life and human experience is very much present. The radiating blue rectangle provides the viewer with a visual foothold by which they may explore the room.
The Collagemonauts are a collaborative group of collagists—Marty Gordon, Tim Manthey and Craig van den Bosch. The piece chosen for the Art Walk Awards is entitled “Magmadonna”—a work that seems to extol raw female power, juxtaposing modern and primal imagery. Each artist contributed to the piece in his individual way, but the work retains a sense of continuity and cohesion.
Dominique™ also works in a collage style, uniting images that flow seamlessly into one another. The piece chosen for the exhibition is entitled “Homo.” Its monochrome imagery plays with two identical male figures upon a seemingly female waistband—a sly comment on sexuality and identity beautifully executed. The softer shapes of the foreground contrasted with the more defined lines of the background create a rhythmic sense of movement.
Similarly, the receding lines of the telephone poles in Anita H Lehmann’s piece lead the eye to an unknown place within the work. The artist’s roots as an architect are revealed by her attention to structure and space in the artwork, but Lehmann’s use of color gives the work an organic quality. I particularly admire the softness of the colors as they meld into each other against the well-defined black ink lines.
You may have seen NKO’s entry for the Art Walk Awards on a trip down Broadway. His piece, “The Architecture of Endlessness,” is located on the wall surrounding Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail construction site, and is truly a showstopper. The mural utilizes traditional street art techniques and styles, mixed with geometric designs and prints. NKO worked in conjunction with Japhy White (aka Sign Savant) and the mural took five weeks to complete. “The Architecture of Endlessness” adds beauty and intrigue to an otherwise drab and unimaginative structure.
Richard Morhous’ painting, “Stroll,” is a bright yet veiled peek into an urban night scene. The stark shadows keeps the central figure and the space veiled in anonymity, but the quick lines and vivid colors create a pulsating energy that moves through the entire scene and keeps it intriguing.
Caroline Roosevelt’s piece, “Shannon,” was the People’s Choice selection. The loosely representational portrait re-frames a late night memory in the more coherent light of day. The eponymous subject is rendered with distinct angularity, definitively framing her ambiguous expression with her hands and creating a sense of direct engagement with the viewer. Roosevelt’s line work mixed with watercolor creates an appealing aesthetic.
Deborah Stachowic’s encaustic “Burst of Energy” uses broad brushwork and limited palette to illustrate movement in its purest form—an energetic abstraction of bold form and color. The piece is reminiscent of Asian artwork and script, but Stachowic is working in a language of her own. Wood sculptor Jerry Wingren also takes a unique minimalist approach in his cedar sculptures. The fine, natural elements of the wood are exposed in the hanging form. His work is described as “elegant,” and with this piece’s soft swooping lines, it is truly the perfect word.
Allyce Wood’s precision in printmaking is evident in her piece “Covering,” which is part of a larger exhibition entitled Microslimes that examines the layers of our natural environment. The precise use of black and white allows the viewer to become lost in the details of the depicted forms. The small size of the piece reflects these organic details of the world around us—the spores, the roots, the fungus—and their seemingly inconsequential impact on our natural environment.
The first place award went to NKO’s mural in Capitol Hill. The second and third place awards went to Dominique™ and Anita H. Lehmann. Though there could only be three winners, the event was a success for the community, drawing artists and a crowd of passionate enthusiasts into one room. It seems certain to grow over time and encourage positive participation in future awards events and art walks throughout the city.