The second annual Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition opens Tuesday at South Puget Sound Community College.
The exhibition has been so successful that organizers have already planned an expansion for next summer, when works will be exhibited not only at SPSCC’s gallery but also at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
This year’s show includes 38 works by 30 artists, chosen from 189 works submitted by 67 artists.
“We need more space for this show, “ said gallery coordinator Nathan Barnes. “This year, there were upwards of 100 pieces that would have made a compelling show. There was a lot of really strong work.
“When you are talking nearly 200 entries and only 40 get accepted, that’s starting to be pretty exclusive,” he added. “Being selective is a good thing, but I don’t know that being exclusive is a good thing.”
In addition to helping to build a regional identity, the show offers both established and emerging artists an opportunity to show their work.
It’s the first opportunity for Chuck Eklund of Olympia. His realistic acrylic painting “Norwegian Rowboat,” based on a photo found on the internet, was chosen for the show.
“I’m very excited,” Eklund said in a phone interview this week.
Barnes suspects that Eklund is just one of many artists who haven’t yet found the space to show their work. There are several galleries in Olympia, he said, but not enough to showcase all of the talent in the area.
“Visual arts in this community are underserved,” he said. “There are so many artists, and there is so much really great work.”
The Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition is the college’s attempt to do its part to fill the gap.
The exhibition, juried this year by Esther Luttikhuizen, a curator and gallery manager, is open to artists from Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, Thurston and Wahkiakum counties.
The exhibition includes paintings in styles from abstract to representational, photos and prints, along with a few three-dimensional pieces, including a brightly colored assemblage by Bernie Bleha.
“We have some really good 3-D pieces,” Barnes said, “but the exhibition is dominated by 2-D work. It was last year, too.”
If there’s a trend this year, he said, it’s big paintings, including Debra Van Tuinen’s “Light Through the Rain.”
“We’re packed to the max in here,” he said. “We have four paintings that are anywhere from 3 by 4 feet to 4 by 4 feet. That’s neat. You don’t always see that in juried exhibitions.”
The college sets aside $1,500 to purchase one or more works from the exhibition, and four honorable mentions are also given. The awards will be announced at Thursday’s reception. All work at the show is for sale.
Eklund, 60, of Olympia said he’s honored just to be included.
Eklund recently returned to painting after a decadeslong hiatus.
“My mother was a hobbyist painter,” he said. “About the time I was 10 years old, I started sneaking in there and painting.”
He painted till he was about 16, and then gave it up to pursue music. Last winter, he picked up the brushes again and has made about 20 acrylic paintings since February.
He’s just been painting for fun, he said. Terry Anderson, another Olympia artist, encouraged him to submit work to the exhibition.
“I said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be quite good enough for that,’ but he kept egging me on,” Eklund said.
“I’m a little bit intimidated,” he said. “When I handed in the painting, I tried not to look at anything, but I couldn’t help having my eyes dart around.
“I saw some spectacular work.”
Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition
What: The second annual exhibition at South Puget Sound Community College features works by 30 artists, including new artists and such familiar names as Lois Beck, Bernie Bleha, Marianne Partlow and Debra Van Tuinen.
When: Reception with an awards presentation and refreshments from 6-8 p.m. Thursday; exhibition open Tuesday through Aug. 25. Summer hours at the gallery are noon-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday and by appointment.
Where: The Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts, South Puget Sound Community College, 2011 Mottman Road SW, Olympia.
More information: spscc.edu/gallery or 360-596-5527.