On Friday evening my husband and I attended the opening night of Artomatic, a volunteer artist organization in the DC area that hosts a large art event once a year for both the performing and the visual arts. The open acceptance of any artist into this event (if you get your application in on time) reminds me of the type of exhibitions I read about when I was learning about the French artist Henri Rousseau and how he begun exhibiting his art. Henri Rousseau was a regular exhibitor of Société des Artistes Indépendants (Society of Independent Artists) which was a “no jury or no awards” show. This is really a fun and thought provoking experience, and I would like to encourage anyone in the DC area to attend it as the event will continue through June 15th (2008).

Last night after I came home I jotted down my impressions of the show, focusing only on the visual art displays of the various artists. Here are the characteristics of the various display areas that were most successful in presenting their artwork in an eye-catching and successful manner:

1. The artwork displayed had a cohesive color palette among all of the pieces hung

2. at least one image was a clear and simple composition, there was clarity of artistic message (this piece did not need to be a big piece, thought it did help as there was so much visual competition on the nine floors of displays)

3. The artwork had interesting and varied values. Contrast was visible, so the image was readable from a distance.

4. the entire body of work displayed on a single wall by a single artist looked like these pieces belonged together, there may or may not have been a story, but those that did narrate a message were more compelling to stop and absorb with greater attention than those that were just a hodge-podge of pretty or interesting images.

5. The background wall that the artwork was hung on complimented and reinforced the pieces displayed.

6. the signage was clear and easy to read

7. All printed information was easy to discern and absorb. All relevant information was presented. I especially liked how some of the artists had placed sheets with their artist statement and price lists.

8. Business cards – My opinion in this type of exhibition, one cannot have too many of them! Some display areas had already run out of them so I was unable to quickly gather their information for future contact opportunities. I also liked the business cards that were professionally printed, easy to read and identify, I also now looking at them the day after, really prefer the ones that have an image on them to help me remember exactly which artist they are for. I am a visual person so the visual reinforcement helps me trigger the memory of the entire wall of painting with greater ease.

Here a list the artists that captured my imagination most: (in no order of preference)

Rodina Yelena - Beautiful use of color, very cohesive presentation and lovely paintings

Mia Merin - Nice landscape paintings

Karen Derrico - Liked the way she captured emotion in the eyes of the animals she painted

Gail Vollrath - Beautiful use of color and I really enjoyed being drawn into her abstract compositions

Laurie Breen - Her paintings were bold in color and texture. I also like the cohesive imagery presented.

Tina Duryea - Great big bold painting along side some beautiful abstracted landscapes. My husband said her landscapes reminded him of Kevin Fitzgerald's work. Check out her blog, she has a photo of her wall posted.

Lou Janesko - beautiful draftsmanship, reminds me of some of the old master's field sketches.

Diane Tesler - Colorful and large paintings, I really liked the postcards she also had available

Amanda Engels - beautiful large paintings, I especially liked the diptych of the two ladies at the open door.

E. B. Kellinger - beautiful and colorful large format paintings that were strong and simple compositions

Susan La Mont - I really liked her large compositions. My husband commented that the painting with the lady in front of the dinner reminded him of an urban explorer, someone ready to visit new places and new experiences, I agree with him. There was a sense of exploration in the painting.

Cristina Montejo - I liked the quality of line in her work, I also like the cool format for her business cards.

Patricia Bennett - Bright and colorful, with a very specific message.

Genevieve Lynn - Beautiful chinese brushwork, lovely images. I especially liked the small tiger painting.

Drew Graham - he does not have a web presence, however really cool work using wood and spraypaint...

Jess3 - Bright and colorful images. There was real fun one on display with Rex Harrison and Jean Simmons... Check out the website, there are more examples of visually complex collages.

There were more, however these are the artists that had business cards available to take home. As this exhibit will be going on for a while longer I may go again. As I only wrote about 2D artists, there were some great glass and ceramic artwork that was beautiful and worth mentioning as well... I just did not pick up their information. I guess last night I was really just focusing on 2D work, something I did not notice until writing this review.

Please visit Artomatic, it is a great venue to see local artists in the DC area!