95th Annual Spring Show Opens April 21st and 22nd

The Erie Art Museum will open the 95th Annual Spring Show with a private preview and reception for artists and members of the Museum on Saturday, April 21, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at 8 p.m.

The show officially opens to the public with free admission on Sunday, April 22, and a reception from 1 to 3 p.m.

The 95th Annual Spring Show celebrates new works in all media by artists living within a 250-mile radius from Erie, including Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo. This year’s juror is Wendy Maruyama. A feminist and innovator, her early furniture designs subverted studio craft traditions with humor, social commentary, and color. Her recent sculptures and installations reflect on her Japanese-American heritage and wildlife endangerment in Africa.

 “She has created an impressive body of work in a variety of media,” said Susan Barnett, Curator of the Erie Art Museum. “She essentially brought furniture into the post-modern era, and continues to explore new territories that cross the boundaries of craft, installation, social practice, and sculpture.”

Maruyama selected 102 works from a total of 643 entries to create an exhibit showcasing 95 artists.

The Erie Art Museum Spring Show became the essential annual exhibition for hundreds of artists in the region when it was expanded beyond the immediate Erie area 49 years ago. “It is an important way for me to learn about the regional art community,” said Barnett, who is celebrating her first Spring Show as curator of the Art Museum. “I arrived in May last year, and enjoyed seeing the breadth and quality of work represented. It has been exciting to come full circle and to be involved with the jurying process this year.” She adds, “I am so impressed with the quality of the work that was entered and grateful to Wendy Maruyama for making the hard choices. We could easily have made three good exhibitions from the work that was entered.”

The Annual Spring Show is a unique event that brings together the regional artist community throughout the processes of submission, jurying, and opening events and receptions. Contrasting the experience with the typical process of viewing digital images of artworks, Curator Susan Barnett noted, “More than just an exhibition or a contest, the Spring Show brings artists together in Erie and the region. Artists of all ages and backgrounds stop by during the drop off period to see one another’s work and offer support. The reception is a reunion for artists and a celebration that connects them to the community.”

Juror Wendy Maruyama was impressed with the quality and somewhat overwhelmed by the quantity of work submitted. She noted, “There were SO many stellar submissions that it became an issue of rejecting work NOT because it was poor but because the space has limits.” To avoid a crowded exhibition, she said, “I had to really shift my strategy on my evaluation process – for example, if there were three paintings I loved but each had, let’s say, crows, or trees as a central element, it came down to choosing the strongest depiction overall.”

The juror’s preferences and ways of experiencing art bring a fresh perspective to the Spring Show each year. Maruyama wanted to show a range of works, explaining, “I personally have a versatile collection of artwork that ranges from folk art to classic painting.” On the other hand, her own way of working influences her choices. “As a craft person I am mindful of how well things are made, whether it’s painting or sculpture. I tried to evaluate the use of “appropriate” craftsmanship.  But if I am distracted by it, then that is how I may come to a decision.”

In closing, Maruyama added, “It was a true honor to jury such a significant exhibition, and I look forward to seeing photos of the final installation!”

The artwork Maruyama selected will be exhibited in the Main Gallery until July 1, 2018. For more information about the 95th Annual Spring Show visit ErieArtMuseum.org or call (814) 459-5477.

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