By Rebecca Sloan
The Butler’s 72nd National Midyear exhibition opens today.
YOUNGSTOWN — Browsing the Butler’s 72nd National Midyear show is sort of like sampling delicacies from an award-winning smorgasbord.
Bold and spicy abstracts neighbor fluffy yet filling pastels, and sweet, sunny acrylics flank raw and edgy oils.
There’s something to satisfy every palate, and the polar opposites make your senses tingle with wonder and imagination.
It’s no surprise that the National Midyear exhibition is filled with such quality and variety.
The creators of these works of art come from every corner of the United States and possess starkly different styles and visions.
There are artists from the deserts of Arizona and the green hills of Massachusetts and the bayous of the deep South.
And there are artists from right here in the Mahoning Valley.
Butler Director Louis Zona is particularly proud of the Butler’s 72nd National Midyear show, which opens today and runs through Aug. 24.
“This is one of the oldest juried art shows in America, if not the oldest juried show in America,” Zona said. “It has been going on for decades, and we are very proud to have it here at the Butler.”
During a juried show, an appointed judge evaluates entries and selects a certain number of winners.
Zona said there are typically about 1,000 entries in the National Midyear and 100 winners chosen.
This year’s judge was renowned New York City painter Don Eddy, something else Zona is proud of.
“Don Eddy is a major artist, and we are very pleased to have him as this year’s judge,” Zona said.
“Eddy is represented here in our permanent collection and is a photorealist painter who works from photos in traditional oil paint,” he said. “His work is amazing.”
Zona said the Butler strives to select judges from all corners of the art world and all walks of life.
“Each year we try to run the gamut of personalities represented in the art world,” Zona said. “It mixes things up and helps make things fair for those entering their work.”
Artists can enter work in any medium, but the work of art must be flat – no sculptures allowed.
Entries are accepted during March, and artists can download applications from the Butler’s Web site.
The competition is open to anyone in the United States 18 years or older.
Zona said the National Midyear exhibition is an excellent opportunity for unknown artists to get recognized.
“Many of the artists who end up being selected for this show are not well-known artists,” he said.
“This is a chance for people to get professional encouragement from someone well-known in the art world. It is a very prestigious show that any artist in America would be proud to list on their professional record,” said Zona.
Although the National Midyear has been going on for decades, this is the first year digital drawings and photography were permitted in the show.
Zona said he is pleased to see these included in the 2008 exhibit because it is an indication of how technology is shaping creativity.
“This show is an indication of the wide range of things going on artistically in America,” he said. “Artists are doing amazing things with these mediums. In fact, our first prize winner this year was in this category.”
A digital drawing by Martha Jane Bradford of Brodeline, Mass., claimed first prize.
Bradford’s work is titled “Sheepscot Village Trees” and depicts a dreamy, black-and-white landscape of open fields, rolling clouds and clusters of trees.
A digital inkjet print by Stuart A. Pearl of Lyndhurst won Best of Show. It is titled “Coming up the Cuyahoga,” and features a freighter moving along the river with the jagged Cleveland skyline in the background.
Several of this year’s artists are from the Cleveland area.
Zona said the Cleveland Museum of Art used to have a juried show called the May Show, but that show was discontinued.
“The National Midyear has really filled a void for that show,” Zona said.
The Butler will be open today from noon until 4 p.m.
Zona encouraged the public to come out for the opening day.
“It’s a chance to meet some of these artists who come from all over the United States,” Zona said, adding, “And some of the artwork is also for sale.”
The public is also welcome to attend a 3 p.m. art talk and book signing by artist Timothy J. Clark.
Clark is a master of watercolor technique and teaches at the Art Students League of New York.
His book, “Timothy J. Clark,” was published in association with the artist’s midcareer retrospective exhibition, which opened at the Pasadena Museum of California Art in January and is now on view at the Butler.
The book features more than 120 color representations and traces the stages of Clark’s career.
XFor more, visit www.butlerart.com.