With the current status of state funding for the arts, this could be the last exhibition of recipients of the annual Visual Art Fellowships from the State of Florida. Selected by a distinguished panel of artists and art professionals, the fifteen artists in this exhibition represent some of the most imaginative and significant art being produced throughout the state. The specific artworks for the exhibition will be selected by Daniel E. Stetson, Executive Director, and Todd Behrens, Curator of Art, from the Polk Museum of Art. . Following its showing at the Polk Museum of Art, the exhibition will travel to two other Florida venues: The Arts Center Galleries at Okaloosa-Walton Community College, Niceville from June 27 through July 22, 2004; and The Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables from August 7 through September 5, 2004.
Artists selected for this prestigious exhibition include:
- Miroslav Antich (West Palm Beach), painting
- Donne Bitner (Orlando), mixed media
- Gary W. Bolding (DeLand), painting
- Richard Heipp (Gainesville), painting
- Rebecca Sexton Larson (Tampa), photography
- Connie Lloveras (Coral Gables), mixed media
- Douglas Loewen (Sarasota), sculpture
- Allan R. Maxwell (Orlando), photography
- Jean Cappadonna Nichols (Fort Myers), sculpture
- John A. O’Connor (Gainesville), painting
- Raymond Olivero (Fort Lauderdale), painting
- George Pappas (Sarasota), painting
- Carol G. Prusa (Boca Raton), painting
- Karen Rifas (Miami), experimental
- Akiko Sugiyama (Ormond Beach), paper
- John Tilton (Alachua), ceramics
Together, the artists work in a wonderful variety of mediums: oil and acrylic paintings, mixed media paintings and drawings, hand-painted and digital photography, functional ceramics and ceramic sculptures, kinetic sculptures, and paper and organic sculptures. Two of the thematic and often material aspects that link many of these artists are layers of meaning and studies of the collision between the natural and the human-made. Artists including Antic, Heipp, Larson, and Olivero incorporate the idea of layering directly through their subject matter, as they investigate the impact of distance and context in understanding personal and general history. Bolding, Loewen, Nichols, and Rifas study our often unnatural relationships with our environment. Bitner, Lloveras, and Prusa use a wide variety of materials to create literal layering as they analyze our self-awareness and our relationships with broad, often spiritual ideas. Maxwell and O’Connor create layers of information through their techniques, leading our eyes and minds on visual journeys through their processes. Sugiyama and Tilton rely on some of the most basic natural materials of our everyday lives—clay and paper—to create colorful and sophisticated forms, the crispness of which seems far removed from that of the raw materials.
For an exhibition determined by two separate, relatively large committees, the forty artworks seem remarkably seamless in their quality and many of their themes. They speak well to the current state of the art community and Florida and are a powerful rebuttal to anyone who might doubt the quality and value of art funding at the state level.