Monday, March 3, 2008

Alliance of Fine Art Best of the Best 2008

Art exhibit showcases local talent

More than 100 pieces of local watercolor, oil, photography, pottery, jewelry and mixed media will be showcased during the Alliance of Fine Art's Best of the Best Fine Art Exhibit.
By Jessica Young,
Suburban Life

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Western suburbs, IL -

Dianne Martia has found herself mesmerized with exhumation lately.

"I'm not sure why. I've only been on archeological digs in my dreams, but it has been occupying my imagination," the Darien resident said. "I'm fascinated with finding things that belonged to another era or culture."


Local artists featured...

• Mike Bessler for the photograph "Glowing Forest"
• Bill Baykan for the watercolor "Illusion"
• Corrie Tameling for the oil "Looking at You"
• Abhi Ganju for the photograph "Sugary Snow Shadows"
• Zaki Knapen for the acrylic "Summer Breeze"
• Maggie Kruser for wool-needle felt "Ugandan Couple"
• Valerie Lorimer for the graphite "The Witch Wore Hightops"
• Laura Lein-Svencer for the collage "My Darling Doris"
• Dianne Martia for the mixed media "Exhumation of the Ring"
• Dennis Salaty for the mixed media "The Prize"
• Dick Shipley for the watercolor "Splintered Light"



Martia has done a series of mixed-media canvasses exploring the intersection of past and present. And the gamble paid off with her piece "Exhumation of the Ring." Her work will be featured in the prestigious 16th Annual Best of the Best Fine Art Exhibit, a show sponsored by the Alliance of Fine Art for the creme de la creme of local artists guilds and leagues.

The exhibit, which will appear at the historic Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, will run from Friday, March 21, through Sunday, May 18, when it will culminate with a reception and award presentation. Artists, special guests and local dignitaries are invited to a special sneak preview gala Thursday, March 20.

The Alliance of Fine Art is a nonprofit professional association comprised of local artists groups including the Downers Grove Artists' Guild, Elmhurst Artists' Guild, Addison Art Guild, LaGrange Art League, Lemont Artists' Guild, Naperville Art League, West Suburban Artists' Guild and Midwest Collage Society. More than 100 pieces of watercolor, oil, photography, pottery, jewelry and mixed media will be showcased. Entries were chosen among award winners at the guild or league level, so organizers call the selections stellar.

"My piece is a composite mixed media collage," Martia said. "There's a combination of images that represent artifacts that might be found during an exhumation. There's a picture of a ring, a landscape that shows where the site might have been and a partial writing from a notebook that describes what a person found."

The ring is displayed against a ruler to appear like a specimen being measured.
"Exhumation of the Ring" received recognition at the Naperville Art League show, and a second piece, a mixed media waterscape called "The Passage," won second place at the Downers Grove Artists' Guild contest.

"None of my pieces are very literal, and I try to allow the viewer to come to their own conclusion," Martia said. "I use symbolism and ambiguity to evoke a sense of timelessness. It often raises more questions than it answers."

Nancy D'Agostino, "Best of the Best" chairperson, said the show highlights prominent notable local artists and promotes art in the suburbs.

"Generally you'd have to go to Chicago for something of this quality, so there's quite a buzz," she said. "The caliber of artists out here is phenomenal, and exhibits like this show people how much talent is in their own backyard. I think the public will really enjoy this, and all the artwork will be for sale, so it's a good chance to get something more unique than a mass-produced print."

The Alliance of Fine Art has secured Rolf Achilles, curator of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows at Navy Pier and art history and theory professor, to judge the show.

"He's top-notch," D'Agostino said. "Critique for an artist is an important thing, and it'll be nice to have feedback from someone at his level."

According to Martia, the exhibit is a huge honor for featured artists.

"This is a big deal. It's such an opportunity," she said. "And the chances for networking are endless."

The Alliance of Fine Art supports cultural events which stress awareness, appreciation and enjoyment of quality art and contribute to community enrichment. The organization is staffed entirely of volunteer artists.

"We're running around making badges and tags, measuring the room and figuring out how to hang the show," D'Agostino said. "It's a really exciting time backstage to see this all come together."

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