40th Annual Art Competition: Meet the Jurors

Janice K. Johnson

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This year, the Artists Magazine’s Annual Art Competition turns 40 years old. Just to give that anniversary a bit of context, here are a few other things that were first introduced to the world in 1983:

  • The video game, Mario Bros., was first released as a Nintendo arcade game in Japan
  • The Motorola Company introduced the first mobile phone
  • The first Cabbage Patch Doll appeared on store shelves

Clearly, the mobile phone has made a bigger impact on life on Earth than other things on this list, but we know do know that, for many artists, earning recognition in this annual competition has been a seminal moment in their art career. And, for every artist who has received an award or honorable mention, it has been a point of pride.

For this year’s 40th anniversary competition, we invited five artists who are all enjoying successful careers to serve as our jurors. Although their creative paths have all been different, they share this in common: Each one of them has been a past recipient of at least one award in an Artists Magazine Annual Competition. So, each of them understands the power of a well-earned nod of recognition in boosting one’s creative confidence—and what that encouragement can do. 

For a chance to get your own creative affirmation and career boost, click here to learn more about the prizes and entry information for the Artists Magazine’s 40th Annual Competition. 

Meet the Jurors

Abstract/Experimental — Kristy Gordon

Kristy Gordon (kristygordon.com) has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Europe and China. She’s an adjunct professor at the New York Academy of Art and has taught at numerous schools and academies, including the National Academy, in New York City, and The Academy of Realist Art, in Ottawa and Boston. As a three-time recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant, her work has won numerous awards and honors, including an award in the Abstract/Experimental category in the Artists Magazine Annual Competition, in 2011. Gordon is represented by Grenning Gallery, in Sag Harbor, New York; Garvey|Simon, in New York City; and Studio Sixty Six, in Ottawa. Follow her on Instagram @kristygordonart.

Of her award-winning piece, Rise, Gordon says: “I’ve heard that an artist is essentially always painting the same theme over and over, and if that’s true, then this painting, Rise, was definitely the start of many more paintings on the theme of ‘breaking down to break through.’ I remember being overjoyed when I got the news that it had been selected for an award in the Artist’s Magazine Competition. I was sitting on a rock by the ocean in Norway, during an apprenticeship with Odd Nerdrum, when I got the news. That was around the time that I decided to pursue my MFA at the New York Academy of Art. This was such a special time in my life and it was enhanced so much by the Artists Magazine.”

Rise by Kristy Gordon (oil on canvas, 60×48)

Animal/Wildlife — Koo Schadler

Koo Schadler (kooschadler.com) is a master of egg tempera painting and silverpoint drawing.  She has taught workshops on traditional techniques and Old Master design across the United States and abroad for more than 20 years. Her book, Egg Tempera Painting, has been sold to artists in 49 states and in 35 countries around the world. Schadler’s paintings and drawings have won a number of awards, including an award in the Artists Magazine Annual Competition, in 2008. Her work is a part of more than 400 private and corporate collections, and in the permanent collections of many museums including the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, in Mississippi, and the Philadelphia Athenaeum.

Of her award-winning piece, Flicker and Virgil, Schadler says: “In my nearly 30 year career as a professional artist, I still count among the highlights the day I received a phone call from The Artists Magazine notifying me that I’d placed second in the animal category of their 2008 annual competition. I was thrilled! It felt so affirming of my work. It drew many students to my workshops (people often came to class holding the issue that showed my prize-winning painting, eager to share how they’d first learned of my artwork). The prize money for an emerging artist was nice, too. I was and remain grateful for that wonderful boost to my morale and career.”  

Flicker and Virgil by Koo Schadler
(egg tempera on true gesso panel, finished with oil, 8 x 8)

Landscape — John Salminen

John Salminen (johnsalminen.com) is a Signature Member of the American Watercolor Society (AWS), the National Watercolor Society (NWS) and the Transparent Watercolor Society of America (TWSA), in addition to art societies in China and Australia. He’s the President Emeritus of the International Masters of Watercolor Association, which is centered in Shanghai, China. The artist has won hundreds of awards for his work in national and international exhibitions, including multiple top awards in AWS, NWS, TWSA and Allied Artists of America, as well as awards in the Artists Magazine Annual Competition in 2010, 2012 and 2015. The artist has participated in 46 invitational international exhibitions in 16 countries and is a frequent judge and juror for national and international exhibitions. His work is included in permanent collections in the United States, Asia and Europe.

Of his piece, Battery Park II, which took First Place in the Artist Magazine’s Annual, in the Experimental category, in the year 2000, Salminen says: “I’ve always admired the painter, Edward Betts. His book, Master Class in Water Media, shaped much of my thinking about watercolor as a fine art medium. When I saw that he was a judge in the 2000 competition, I was excited to enter an image and thrilled to win the First Place Award. I began painting as an abstract expressionist, more interested in the expressive nature of paint than in the representation of objects. I still paint pure abstractions, but most of my works are realistic with an underlying foundation of abstraction. Even painting representationally, I continue to rely heavily on my background in non-representational painting to guide me. The balance between abstraction and the illusion of reality is the challenge that keeps me excited about painting every day.”

Battery Park II by John Salminen (watercolor, 23 x 34)

Still Life/Interior— Jeffrey T. Larson

Jeffrey T. Larson (jeffreytlarson.com) trained in the manner of the Old Masters at the prestigious Atelier Lack, a studio/school where traditions and training methods reach back through Impressionism and the 19th centuries French academies. He followed his four-year formal training with museum study in the United States and abroad. Larson is represented by galleries in Massachusetts, South Carolina and California. He has work in a number of important private and corporate collections. The artist was a winner in the Artists Magazine Annual Competition in 2008, 2009 and 2012, and he continues to receive honors for his artistic achievements year after year. In 2016, Larson co-founded the Great Lakes Academy of Fine Arts, in Duluth, Minn., with his son, Brock Larson. He also teaches and gives lectures on traditional painting techniques all over the United States.

Of the painting that took First Place in the Still Life category in the 29th Annual Competition, in 2012, Larson said: “I was moved to paint In the Light of Life for two reasons: artistically, it presented the challenge of capturing the subtle flow of light over the Styrofoam pieces I’d carefully arranged atop the table; thematically, it seemed to present a visual analogy of my belief that whatever power or effect we humans think we possess is nothing compared to the power of life and creation. As I looked at the setup for what it actually was—an arrangement of values and colors in certain shapes—my eyes were opened to the amazing sight of prismatic color flooding across the entire subject. Every surface was infused with all the colors of the rainbow, and I was able to see and capture the reality with its subtle intensities more truthfully.

In the Light of Life by Jeffrey T. Larson (oil, 36×40)

Portrait/Figure — Dean Mitchell

New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman praised Dean Mitchell (deanmitchellstudio.com) as a “modern-day Vermeer.” The artist works in watercolor, egg tempera, oil and pastel, and is well known for his figurative works, landscapes and still lifes. Mitchell was, at the age of 23, the youngest artist ever accepted into the National Watercolor Society. Just five years later, he was also admitted into the American Watercolor Society. He holds numerous gold medals from these and other prestigious art associations worldwide. His awards, which number in the hundreds—include awards in the Artists Magazine Annual Competition, in 2005 and 2013. His work is featured in corporate and private collections throughout the country, and in a number of museum collections, including that of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, in Kansas City, Mo.; the Mississippi Museum of Art, in Jackson, Miss.; and the Saint Louis Art Museum; among many others. 

Buffalo Soldier by Dean Williams (watercolor, 22 x30)

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