Now is the time to encourage out-of-town guests to visit The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown to view the 66th National Midyear Show, which runs until Aug. 18.
The Butler's 66th consecutive Midyear extends the museum's tradition of showcasing works by U.S. artists. This year's show was juried by Jerry Berger, director of the Springfield Museum of Art in Missouri, and underwritten in part by David and Diana (Catignani) Chappell. An exhibition catalog accompanies the show.
According to Butler Director Dr. Louis Zona, "One must be amused by the ongoing proclamation, by people who should know better, of the imminent demise of painting. Painting, it has been said, no longer retains its position as the primary mode of visual art expression. We need only walk through the galleries containing this year's edition of the Midyear Show to realize that painting ... could not be more alive, or more vital!"
The 66th Midyear exhibition features 99 juried and four invited paintings. Nine artists received Butler-sponsored awards. Top prize went to Gary T. Erbe of Union City, N.J., for "Southern Shadows," a masterpiece of fool-the-eye painting that simmers with social commentary.
Second prizes were won by Lynn Davison of Naples, Fla., who created "Tin Roof Sunday," a somewhat surreal portrait of two figures sunning themselves on a slanted rooftop; and Elinore Schurr of Long Island City, N.J., won for the murky atmospheric interior titled "Vodka Bar #1."
Honorable mention awards were given to Elizabeth A. Yarosz of Wichita Falls, Texas, Belle E. Moser of New York City and David Beyon Pena of New York City.
Three other awards were also given. Edward Beyer of Bay Village, Ohio, received the first Dianne B. Bernhard Purchase Award for his beautiful painting in pastels titled "Evening Clouds." It will become a part of the Butler permanent collection.
Steven Christopher Seward of Cleveland won the second annual Phil Desind Award for a stunning, John Singer Sargent-like portrait, "Caryn."
Robert Pengally of Sacramento, Calif., was granted the Allied Artists of America Award for an incredibly detailed watercolor, "Self Portrait."
The invited element of the 66th Midyear Show includes paintings by well-known realist painters Harvey Dinnerstein of Brooklyn, N.Y., Herman Margulies of Washington, Conn., Burton Silverman of New York City and Lydia Amigo-Spaulding of Cleveland.
Also on view in the Butler second-floor galleries is a retrospective of works by Joseph Sheppard. This exhibition presents drawings, paintings and sculpture by a master of realism who lives and works in Maryland and Italy.
In 2001, Joseph Sheppard marked 50 years as a professional artist. This golden jubilee is being celebrated with a traveling exhibit that started in Europe and will make three stops in America, starting with The Butler Institute of American Art.
The exhibition features 20 large-scale paintings, many portraits and drawings and 15 pieces of sculpture. The artist works in the tradition of the Old Masters, translating their style with a richness of invention that is honest and contemporary. He has been called "a reincarnation of the Renaissance artist."
Sheppard, a Guggenheim fellow, has written 14 books, including the hardbound catalog that accompanies the retrospective exhibition. The catalog is available in the Butler's gift shop.
Sheppard is represented in major collection throughout the world, including The Butler Institute of American Art; Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson; Columbus Museum of Fine Arts; Westmoreland Museum of Art, Greensburg, Pa.; Baltimore Museum of Art; Fine Arts Museum of the South, Mobile, Ala.; New Britain Museum of Art, New Britain, Conn.; and the Carnegie Institute Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
Still featured in Butler main floor south collection galleries are masterworks on loan from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla.
Included are works by master painters Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt. The show continues through Sept. 8.
George Segal's study for the monumental sculpture "Steelmakers," in the Butler's Dennison Gallery, is drawing much attention. The monumental sculpture was originally given to the city of Youngstown by the Youngstown Arts Council in 1980. It will be rededicated at 2 p.m. Aug. 21 at Youngstown's Ohio Historical Society's Center of Industry and Labor. The reinstallation is made possible by the United Steelworkers of America District 1.
New York trip
There is still time to join Zona and others who love art and New York City on a spectacular tour Oct. 9-13.
This year's tour includes a night in the Poconos and a visit to the Buck Hill Falls, Pa., studio of Peter Maier. (His realist works, which can best be described as "virtual reality in paint," have been exhibited at the Butler in two solo shows.) While in Manhattan, the group will tour the Beaux-Arts building housing The Hispanic Society of America to view its art collection and historic artifacts.
A stop to view the permanent collection of The American Academy of Arts and Letters -- whose members include painter Jasper Johns, architect Philip Johnson, writer Toni Morrison and composer Stephen Sondheim -- is also planned.
Visits to The American Folk Art Museum, the American Craft Museum, the Guggenheim Museum and behind-the-scenes tours of two well-known galleries round out the tour.
Great food, shopping and superb accommodations are included in this tour organized for the Butler by Burger Travel of Youngstown.
For information and/or a complete itinerary, call (330) 744-5035.
XButler hours in Youngstown are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. Hours at the Trumbull branch are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Butler Salem hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Admission to all three facilities is free.