The 98th Annual Spring Show at the Erie Art Museum now on display
Whether we're creating order out of chaos or just embracing it, the arts tend to flourish in times of turbulence. Although that push and pull is always at play in our minds and souls, rarely has the ethical and ideological tug of war outside ourselves seemed so immediate, so omnipresent. That so many of us can find inspiration or even beauty within that maelstrom is a testament to the human spirit indeed.
The 98th Annual Spring Show at the Erie Art Museum is a regional showcase of creative magnificence amongst all the madness, featuring 92 pieces by 67 artists across a range of media and disciplines. As always, a juror from outside the region was chosen to curate the exhibit — this year's being American artist, ceramicist, social activist, spoken word poet, and educator Roberto Lugo. Lugo evaluated more than 450 submissions to arrive at his finalists, choosing five of the most exemplary works for a 2021 Juror's Distinction Award. These included:
"Red Shoes" (2019) by Cleveland Heights (Ohio) painter David King (oil/acrylic on canvas)
"Last Tweet" (2021) by Girard painter Brad Lethaby (oil on panel)
"Nicks BBQ" (2020) by Stow (Ohio) painter Thomas Jackson (oil on canvas)
"Princess Guerriére" (2020) by Oil City painter George Cooley (acrylic on linen)
"Ecclesiastical Backpack" (2019) by Venango sculptor Chuck Johnson (hand-built ceramic from unglazed sculpture clay)
The Northwestern Pennsylvania Artists' Association (NPAA) honored Erie artist Barbara Yerace with their annual award for "In Celebration of the Bear" (2020), a papier-mâché bear head intricately overlaid with colorful spirals of glass beads symbolizing the circular and cyclical nature of life and death.
The Spring Show, too, will pass in time. Before it goes, schedule a 40-minute appointment at erieartmuseum.org/visit to observe the tremendous amount of talent the region has to offer. Members can view for free; non-member adults must pay a $10 admission fee ($8 for senior citizens or students 16 and up). The museum is open 2 to 8 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Friday, April 9
Those interested in learning more about Lugo, the show, and the jurying process can tune in to a virtual discussion on Friday, April 9 hosted by Spring Show sponsor Edinboro University (brucegallery.info). Lugo will be joined by Edinboro professor Stephanie L. Diez-Morel, ceramicist Linda Cordell, and Edinboro professor and moderator Leslie C. Sotomayor.
Lugo is noted for his use of porcelain — a material traditionally associated with luxury and aristocracy — to call attention to race and class struggle and celebrate minority and underrepresented figures. His work is permanently on display in the prominent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The High Museum of Art (Atlanta), The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Brooklyn Museum, and The Walters Museum (Baltimore).
Matt Swanseger's preferred media are crayons, fingerpaints, and pretzel crumbs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org