Abstract Amish farm painting takes ‘Best of Show' at Studio B

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A perennial favorite with the community, The Farm art exhibition filled Boyertown’s Studio B art gallery to capacity on opening night, January 18th 2013.

The annual exhibition, the fifth of its kind, includes a variety of high caliber artwork in an array of mediums. From paintings of farm animals to landscapes of crops and snow-covered fields, to barns and photographs that captured the essence of farm life, the collection reconnected its audience with family traditions and the simple beauty of the rural countryside.

Exhibit juror, artist Barrie Maguire, admits he faced a challenging assignment of selecting the “Best in Show.”

“When I first saw the assembled work, I was blown away by the overall quality, and I did not look forward to the task of picking one or two “prize winners” out of so many quality pieces of art,” said Maguire, whose painting, “Okie,” was named Best in Show in the 2012 Farm exhibit.

“For example,” he continued. “I was very impressed by the photographic entries, several of them just stunning, and the paintings of horses and fields and barns and animals were so bold and dramatic and so skillfully executed.”

In judging the entries, Maguire said he studied the entries to evaluate “the care and craft the artist had poured into the work, as well as the chances they took, the surprising use of color, or textures, or unpredictable points of view.”

After much deliberation, he selected Carol Sumner’s abstract painting of an Amish farm as the Best in Show.

“I found it original, truly evocative of a Lancaster County farmscape, filled with shapes and angles in muted colors, a painting in which you could forever discover something new, no matter how long it hung on your wall,” he said.

The second Best in Show went to Sharon Merkel’s photograph featuring a concrete wall.

“It was an amazing photograph,” he said. “It took me awhile to identify the vine, the mold, the concrete wall, but what impressed me is that I was in love with it before I could figure out exactly what it was—stunning color, a beautiful image.”

Honorable mentions include Gail Fronheiser, “Chick and Peep”; Lynn Millar, Lobethal Field, Australia; Donna Unger, “Duck Covey”; Jeff Arbogast, “Golden Green Farm”; Linda Austerberry, “The Last Red Barn”; Joe Zimhart, “Corn Maiden”; Diane Hutchison, “A Good Afternoon”; Dan Gorman, “Short Cut” and “Sunlight”; and Susan Duby, “Paint.”

Maguire comes from a family of artists spanning four generations. His own career includes work as an advertising designer, creative director for Hallmark Cards, writer of humor books, and op-ed artist for “The Philadelphia Inquirer.” His began to work seriously as a painter in 1998 after visiting Ireland. Now, his subject matter features Irish people, animals and the green countryside.

The Farm exhibition will be on display through February 9th. Studio B, located at 39A E. Philadelphia Avenue, Boyertown, is open Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., third Fridays, 5-8 p.m. and by appointment. Susan Biebuyck serves as the gallery director. For more information, visit www.studiobbb.org.

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