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A slew of fresh faces makes the CAC’s 23rd Annual Juried Show a wildly varied experience

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Best in show winner Joanna Lord’s “Girl With Sandwich”

One of the pleasures of the Annual CAC Juried Show—as with any juried exhibition, really—is that you never know what to expect. Bubbling from the alchemical mixture of juror preference, artist entries, community trends and institutional support, the resulting exhibition is anybody’s guess. It’s also reminiscent of an Olympic event, rife with melodrama, jealousy, ecstasy and pain: who got in, who didn’t, who’s disgusted by the jurying, who’s thrilled by the discovery of an artist they’d never seen before. The awards ceremony taps all this energy, operatic and exciting.

If the frenzy feels more magnified this year, blame the juror, LA-based critic and curator Mat Gleason. The 23rd Annual CAC Juried Show is bright, hedonistic and effusive—the perfect foil for last year’s economical, pale, refined installment.

With more than 40 artists included, it’s no wonder things feel a little overstimulating. The show focuses almost exclusively on two-dimensional work, and the walls are packed with art. The curation itself seems inspired by the decadent democracy of Las Vegas itself, and the juror admits as much. While I confess to not loving much of the work, I love that so much of it is completely and utterly unique. Plus, most of the artists are fresh faces, adding to the bliss of discovery.

The Details

23rd Annual Juried Show
Three stars
Through April 27; Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m.; free.
Contemporary Arts Center, 382-3886

Some favorites, in no particular order: Chad Haskell’s giant, pink-faced portrait, while disturbing at first, ended up being very difficult to part ways with. Brent Kallenbach’s pastel-colored “Apple Flavored Milk,” a surrealist-inflected ode to a cow. Jevijoe Vitug’s “Allegorical Nature of the Occupied”: is it a big zit or a volcano? Jennifer Beaty’s wildly disturbing still life, “Flesh II.” The contorted photographic joy (or is it agony?) of Marlene Siu’s “Yasmina.”

Among the winners, honorable mention Jason Warnock’s erotic fantasy “Deluda’s Lair” showcased exquisite painting skills. First-prize winner Margi Weir created a tight mosaic print that slyly lampoons the oil industry (“Antimacassar 2”). And both of best-in-show Joanna Lord’s entries were highlights of the entire exhibition.

Everything about the show reveres the drive to make art and the joy that is possible in its discovery. I should probably reference Mr. Gleason’s vision and his desire to reflect the wild eccentricities of the city he loves so well, but the juror isn’t important, and I suspect he would agree. The focus should be on the artists themselves and the wonderful experience their collective effort has made possible. To take a cue from Gleason’s statement, pouring over my laptop pales in comparison to the immense courage required to get up in the morning and make art. The 23rd Annual Juried Show celebrates that courage.

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Danielle Kelly

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