CIAA art show on display at recreation center
“You can’t swing a cat on this island and not hit an artist,” said Ernie Savastano, president of the Conanicut Island Arts Association. “Jamestown probably has more artists per capita than any other place I know of.”
Whether or not the statement is accurate, one stroll though the Jamestown Recreation Center and it might just seem as if Savastano’s claim isn’t hyperbole. Sixty-six artists participated in the 37th annual Conanicut Island Arts Association members show. A total of 122 pieces of art are currently hanging in the recreation center, but that only tells half the story – more than 200 more are on sale in the bins.
“And probably about 90 percent of those are created by Jamestowners,” Savastano said. This is just the second year that the CIAA allowed non-islanders to be part of the association. “It helps promote the show and association by having people from other towns participate,” he said.
The show kicked off last night with its opening reception and will run through Sunday, Aug. 14. The showcase will be open each day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and nearly every piece of artwork in the building is for sale. “Sales are a good thing,” said Roger Brin, who is chairman of the showcase for the second consecutive year, “because some of the money comes back to the association.” The CIAA takes a 20 percent commission from the artist, which is used mostly for prizes and scholarships, since the board is comprised of volunteers. “Volunteers put the entire show on,” Savastano said. Artwork at this year’s show ranges from $10 to $2,800.
Brin and Savastano both agreed that the most important part of having successful and lucrative shows is so that the association can continue to award scholarships to Jamestown students who plan to pursue a career in the arts.
Although each artist could submit up to 15 unframed pieces for the bins, only two official works were allowed for judging. Of those two pieces, only one could be “not for sale” – if an artist only submitted one piece, then it had to be for sale.
This year the CIAA gave $3,000 in total scholarships to island residents who were graduating high school seniors. “Thanks to the success of last year’s show,” Brin said, “the scholarship money we were able to give was more than it was last year.”
To be considered, the students had to submit their own artwork. The winners were Dylan Vogel, Caia Diepenbrock, Eva Delaronde and Jena Cabrera, and their works are also on display at the recreation center with the rest of the pieces created by the CIAA members.
The college-bound aren’t the only young islanders to benefit from the shows. The CIAA also sponsors students from the Melrose and Lawn Avenue schools.
“We give scholarships to one kid from each grade so that they can take an art course at the Jamestown Arts Center,” said Wendy Crooks, a CIAA board member.
This year Todd Moore juried the show. Moore is a professor – as well as an alum – of Rhode Island School of Design. After earning his undergraduate degree from Evergreen State College, Moore enrolled at RISD where he earned his Master of Fine Arts. He has been teaching there since 1985 in the Division of Foundation Studies. Moore’s work has been shown in more than three dozen galleries nationwide, including the RISD Museum, the North Miami Museum, the Helander Gallery in Palm Beach, Fla., and the O.K. Harris West in Scottsdale, Ariz. He has lived in Rhode Island since 1977 and currently has a home and studio in Tiverton.
Although the winner this year was a Newport resident, three of the six honorees were islanders. Jamestowners Judy Knight and Ed Roche took second and third place, respectively, in Tuesday’s verdict.
Knight won second place for her ceramic “Street Musicians” sculpture while Roche was second runner-up for his oil painting titled “The Yellow Box.” Islander Priscilla Foley was named one of the three honorable mentions for her watercolor and collage titled “Into the Curve.”
First place went to Mary Mc- Nally for “Chiaroscuro.” The remaining two honorable mentions went to Ranger Smythe of Newport for his acrylic painting titled “The Case of the Four Cows,” and Judith Anderson of North Kingstown for her watercolor called “Bear Rock, Point Judith.”
Cash prices went to the first-, second and third-place finishers.
According to Savastavo, although most artists are grateful to be chosen by the juror, the “People’s Choice Award,” which is voted on during the opening reception, can be even more rewarding.
“People are happy to win and be chosen by our juror, but the ‘People’s Choice Award’ is usually a big deal because it is voted on by everyone,” said Savastavo.
Last year’s winner was Charles Pollock of Warwick for his painting titled “Jamestown.”
The winner of the “People’s Choice Award” is rewarded by having an image of the winning submission as the front-cover artwork for the following year’s brochure.
CIAA board members are also active in the members show. Savastano, for example, who paints “en plein air,” had two of his own paintings hanging in the showcase. “En plein air” refers to painting outside with the subject matter in front of the artist’s eyes. One of Savastano’s paintings was of the Newport Bridge from East Ferry.
“I don’t paint from pictures,” he said. “I like to be outside in the environment when I’m working.”
The association said that it is always looking for new members, and currently about 200 people are active in the CIAA. “We received new members last night,” Savastano said, “so I don’t know the exact number.”
Along with the annual members show, the CIAA also hosts multiple shows at Town Hall and has galleries at the Jamestown Philomenian Library.
Said Savastano, “It’s just a great town for art.”