The Bascom showcases work from local artists in member exhibition
By KAT FORD
Photos By ZACH ROGERS
2020 marks the fourth Annual Juried Member Challenge for The Bascom: A Center for the Visual Arts in Highlands, NC. For years, the challenge has become a treasured avenue for the organization's member artists to showcase their work. Members are sent a unique idea for artistic exploration in the early spring and given several months to complete and submit finished pieces in various mediums for consideration. This year's subject, “The Power of 10,” was based on a twelve-month theme of the same name, woven about the exhibition offerings in The Bascom's three gallery spaces. Juried by Jean McLaughlin, Penland School of Craft’s executive director from 1998-2017 and the curator for The Bascom's Narrative/Abstraction/Iteration exhibition, “The Power of 10” highlights work from local artists across the plateau in the Joel Gallery. “The Power of 10” will be open to the public through December.
Jean W. McLaughlin
“ “The Power of 10,” the exhibition theme for the Annual Juried Member Challenge, signifies for me the 10th anniversary of The Bascom in its current beautiful home. The Bascom has had ten years of growing its programming for the Highlands community; ten years of encouraging creativity through its classes, exhibitions, residencies and presentations; and ten years of expanding its membership and organizational strength. As a nod towards a more literal play with “The Power of 10,” I selected the ten works of art that spoke to me most strongly for this exhibition.
Some of the artists whose works were chosen commented on their interpretation of the notion of ten and others left it to one’s imagination. For example, “Standing Still” is a tribute to ten years of our native hemlocks struggling with the invasion of the woolly adelgid parasite. Without that explanation, I would not have added this understanding to my viewing of the painting. I was responding to the artist’s use of color to depict water and sky, time of day and ground cover, and I enjoyed the playful movement in the trees. “10 Petal Bloom” became a successful creative challenge for this artist who invented a flower design with multiple layers of ten petals. This work is a wooden bowl scored, burned and colored with India ink to resemble a woven basket. I was drawn to the illusion as well as the patterning.
“Corn Crib at The Bascom” responded to “The Power of 10” concept by calling attention to The Bascom’s location, its place history. Skillfully painted, “Corn Crib at The Bascom” was described by the artist as a tribute to the organization for providing a place where “the people of Highlands and beyond can experience history, community, nature, beauty, crafts, art, education, heritage, music and support.” “Sleeper” also responded to the role of The Bascom for its creative stimulation. The artist linked The Bascom’s 10th anniversary to ten years of the artist’s own “change and growth.” “Sleeper,” the artist writes, is also the tenth work in a series of family portraits “depicting same-sex parents and their children. …I chose this theme to recognize and celebrate the dramatic changes in American society over the past ten years…” As juror, I chose this work for its gestural sensitivity and line quality.
“Ten Mountains” very cleverly described the mathematical power of ten. This almost abstract depiction of a mountain landscape leads the viewer from what is closest to the most distant, playing with scale. What appears smallest in the distance is in fact largest. The artist also writes that the work represents the landscape as it increases in size… “the minerals that make up the earth, to a leaf, to a tree, to a mountain to the sky to the heavens and further.” “Elmamental” and “Joy” drew my eye for their uses of material, “Power of Hope” for its complex patterning, and “Ten Steps up to Heaven” for its combination of motion and stillness.
And, finally, there is “Zein.” Enigmatic in its relationship to “The Power of 10,” “Zein” was selected because I returned to it over and over as a strong work of abstraction. I could enjoy it for its color and composition without wondering what its title was meant to convey. However, if zein in biochemistry is the principal protein of corn, perhaps I am responding to the painting’s depiction of an energy source, perhaps a flower opening. If I had to link it to the theme of the exhibition, I would say the artwork could symbolize The Bascom as an energy source.
With this image of The Bascom as a center of community energy, I will conclude by congratulating The Bascom on its 10th anniversary and thank each of the artists who submitted work for consideration. ”