Winning, One Year Later


Submitted 4 months ago
Created by
Susan B. Apel

The wait is over. A year ago, Hood Museum Director John Stomberg selected the work of 3 artists at AVA Gallery’s blockbuster (103 displayed entries) 2017 Juried Summer Exhibition. (Click here to see the art works that garnered the awards.) The 3 winning artists--Helen Shulman, Bruce Blanchette, and Susan Wilson--were given their own future shows at AVA, with a year to work on their art and to put together their own individual exhibitions.

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The year has passed. Shulman, Blanchette, and Wilson opened last week with an artist panel discussion and reception. (Click here for artist bios.) The wait has been more than worth it. 

Bruce Blanchette was once a sculptor but transitioned to wall pieces, a form of mixed-media assemblage art with intricate, often geometric, patterns. He cites his artistic influences: abstract expressionists, Cy Twombly, and Eva Hesse for her innovative use of materials. (I share his intrigue with Hesse. Learn more about her by clicking here.) Asked about his favorite tool in creating his art, Bruce responded "power tools." You can see why. 

14 Degree Drift by Bruce Blanchette

Helen Shulman uses cold wax and oils to produce light-filled and layered abstract landscapes. She draws inspiration from the Hudson River School painters, and credits a squeegee and a blue bowl scraper as her most important tools. She commented that AVA "creates an environment that invites people to enter, pause . . . shoulders drop down . . . “ to foster an internal space. It's a luxury to survey the whole of her exhibition from the middle of the room and then to attend to each individual piece with a closer inspection.

Just a sampling of the work of Helen Shulman

Susan Wilson has an eclectic list: a fork, a tooth scraper, pencils, molds, and her two hands, that she uses to produce her clay sculptures. Her creations populate one of AVA's galleries. Upon entering, one doesn't so much observe them as dwell among them. Wilson views her work as reflecting life's "stress, struggle, conflict and pain." Her inspirations come from reading the New York Times and her years of teaching high school students. After 50 years, she still delights in working with clay.

Part of a “village” of Susan Wilson’s sculptures of heads and hands.

All three exhibitions are free and open to the public, and will continue through August 24, 2018. For hours and further information, go to AVA Gallery's website.

Featured photo, top, is of the work of Susan Wilson. Photo below is Helen Shulman’s All A-Board.

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