‘Images' of Connecticut

It's the oldest annual juried photography competition and exhibition in Connecticut, and it just keeps getting bigger.

"Images," in its 31st year, presented by the Shoreline Arts Alliance (SAA), opened March 31 at the Guilford Art Center with an awards ceremony and artists' reception. The 132 photographs, representing 84 photographers on view in the Art Center's Mill Gallery were culled from 1,250 submitted works by 199 photographers from throughout the state.

"We've seen astronomical growth this year," says Donita Aruny, SAA program and marketing director. "It runs the gamut of amateurs to professionals, and yet there's such camaraderie among all the photographers. They have a mutual respect for the art form."

This is the first show since Eric Dillner became SAA's executive director/CEO.

"I'm amazed by the exciting energy of the applicants and the visual arts committee that makes this happen every year," he says.

A jury of three photographers selected the final photographs for the exhibit and the award winners. This year's jurors were Jill Enfield, a professional photographer in New York City; John Stanley, executive director of the Camera Club of New York; and Lance Keimig, a professional photographer in Pembroke, Mass., and a professor at New England School of Photography.

All three jurors agreed that they were "overwhelmed but delighted" with the sheer number of images they viewed and the diversity of them, including landscapes, portraits, nudes, documentary, still lifes, narratives and abstracts.

"As a Connecticut native, I was excited to see what photographers from my home state were creating, and I was gratified to see loads of talent and a diversity of approaches to the medium," says Stanley, who grew up in West Hartford.

Enfield agrees.

"I think I expected to see Connecticut landscapes and all digital-I know that was my own bias," she says. "Instead, we viewed different mediums, color and black and white, and every genre imaginable."

The jurors say they enjoyed looking at real prints versus images on a screen during the judging process.

"It was very exciting to see the prints up close, and be able to judge works based on the final sizes and print quality," Stanley says. "It felt very tactile, especially in this day and age where everything is increasingly non-physical and virtual."

Of the prize-winning work Stanley says, "It exhibited a high level of creativity, and I was struck by how (the photographers) would see something in a fresh, dynamic and oftentimes humorous way."

Commenting on the first honors photographs, Enfield says, "David Gillich's 'kitchen sink' prints were all printed in a similar color palette. While his images remind me of Jan Groover's work, he had his own twist on still life photos to make them his own.

"Miela Barocas-Mayer's black and white series of a Fijian family were printed beautifully and mounted in a similar fashion so (viewers) can enjoy them for what they are, instead of being distracted by technical images."

"The same can be said for Shona Curtis. With just three images, she told the story of this older gentleman."

He added, "Dianne Thouin's images of mostly backs of people on a boat took vacation pictures to a new level, and made me smile and curious about the relationship of the people to each other, as well as to the photographer."

The jurors stress that they saw a lot of promise and want to encourage people to keep submitting work to the show, even if they didn't get in this year.

"There was very strong work that we could not hang, due to lack of space," Enfield notes.

"It's really fabulous to see images of places that I'm intimately familiar with," Stanley says, "and really wonderful to see the creativity happening in Connecticut right now."

If you go

What: “Images,” annual photo exhibition by the Shoreline Arts Alliance

Where: Mill Gallery at Guilford Art Center, 411 Church St. (Rte. 77), Guilford

When: Through April 21; the gallery is open daily from noon to 4 p.m., Thursdays until 8 p.m.
At the close of “Images,” many of the works will be reinstalled at Connecticut Hospice in Branford, April 25-May 23.

Cost: Free

Coming up: A gallery talk by Keith Johnson, fine art photographer and educator, on April 18, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Info: www.shorelinearts.org or
www.guilfordartcenter.org.

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