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Top prizes validate artists’ labors PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Monday, 09 September 2013 10:51
Artist Daniel Powers during the 21st annual Black Swamp Arts Festival. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The winners of the three top prizes at this weekend's Black Swamp Arts Festival were pleased not only to be honored as individuals, but also to have their media recognized. PHOTO GALLERY
Printmaker Chris Plummer was awarded Best of Show in the juried art show that was presented Saturday and Sunday in downtown Bowling Green.
Their media are often overlooked at art fairs. (Though not at the Black Swamp Festival, where best of show honors in the past have gone to a printmaker, photographers and jewelers.)
Jeweler Bonnie Blandford received the inaugural best for three-dimensional work award and photographer Daniel Powers received the best for two-dimensional art, formerly the Bryan Painting Award.
Blandford appreciated the attention the jurors paid to the detail of her work. At other festivals the judges will often pass by jewelry booths with a cursory look. They can't tell the intricacies of her work from 10 feet away, she said.
Brenda Baker, who chairs the Visual Arts committee, said the jurors commented on "the high level of craftsmanship" in Blandford's jewelry. "They could see how many hours were involved and how much that related to the overall quality."
The jurors, Baker said, were struck by Plummer's "very strong style."
They were intrigued by "the dialogue" between the characters in his prints. There were implied relationships that viewers could emotionally connect with.
Those situations, said Plummer, who won the second award in 2012, are "all based on different things in my life."
Music, he said, is also a big influence.
He said he enjoys exhibiting at the Black Swamp Arts Festival because of the music. Unlike most other festival that try to do both, the Bowling Green event has strong lineups in both. "This is a good mix," he said.
Baker said a number of exhibitors praised the high quality of work in the show.
Plummer, from northern Kentucky, said for years he's wondered about the future of the art fair business.
But as he sees more younger artists - he's 38 - exhibiting and winning prizes, he's now convinced of the continued viability.
Powers is well aware of the vagaries of the art fair circuit. Both he and his wife Kate Lally are artists. She does ceramics and this weekend had the booth next to his.
They don't often travel to shows together,  he said. They have a 6-year-old son to care for.
Over the past few years, he said her ceramics, which tend to cost less, have continued to do well, but his more expensive photographs have been a tougher sell.
Now that's changing.
A 23-year veteran of the art fair circuit, he said he works to create photographs that stand out from the crowded field. Winning an award is welcomed recognition that others recognize his achievement.
Blandford said that winning the award was "a real validation."
"You spend such a long time in your studio making work but until you get it out there you don't know if anyone likes it."
This was her first time showing at the festival. She was encouraged to apply by another exhibitor, Kristy Jo Beber.
"I've thoroughly enjoyed it," she said. She praised the organization, and said "it's nice to be so welcomed by businesses in town.
"I can't figure out why I didn't know about the show before," Blandford said.
Other winners were:
•    Alan Sievers, glass, second place.
•    Elaine Lamb, ceramics, third place.
•     Jack Pine, glass, Paula Grill, fiber, and Beber, ceramics, all honorable mention.
The Community Purchase Award was chosen by H&R Block, which was selected for its support for the festival. It purchased work by Sievers and Marge Meserve, enamel. Meserve, of Bowling Green, has exhibited in all 21 Black Swamp Arts Festivals.

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