2011 Art Competition, Discovering the Native Landscapes of Maryland's Eastern Shore, on View Through April 1 at Adkins Arboretum


Adkins Arboretum presents its twelfth annual Art Competition, Discovering the Native Landscapes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, on view in the Visitor’s Center through April 1. There will be a reception to meet the artists Sat., Feb. 26 from 3 to 5 p.m.
From a record 206 entries, this year’s juror, Ricky Sears, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Washington College, chose 21 pieces by artists from six states.
“The jurying proved to be challenging,” he said, “but I think the show represents the unique ways an artist can interpret nature and landscape through media that include photography, painting, collage and sculpture.”

Sears’s choice of the winners of the annual Leon Andrus Awards, named for the Arboretum’s founder, emphasizes the diversity of work in the show. First prize went to a wall sculpture made from hammered and forged copper by Edward Thornburg of Richmond, Ind. Its rough, textured surface seems to heave and tear from within as tiny, animated plant forms enameled with green and red push their way through.

“What’s impressive is the process of making the materials look so organic,” Sears explained. “It’s aptly titled ‘Survivor.’ It stands out.”

In a striking contrast, he awarded second prize to a more traditional work of art—an oil painting of a marsh and trees under sweeping clouds by Columbia, Md., artist Elena Maza.

Sears said, “This is a literal depiction of the Mid-Atlantic landscape through painting. With its attention to light and texture, it captures the landscape very effectively.”

Sears was interested to find that several works were specifically inspired by Adkins Arboretum, including two dramatically colorful photographs. Both “Adkins Pink Leaves,” by Cathy Leaycraft of Baltimore, and “Adkins Swirl – 2,” by Richard W. Hall of Massey, seem abstract at first glance but are unmanipulated shots of plants, water and reflections.

“There’s a play on micro and macro,” Sears said. “You’re not sure if you’re seeing from space or focusing close up.”

He also chose “Adkins Arboretum Native Plants 1,” a pressed flower artwork by Cathy Eiden of Easton, in which a composition of flowers, ferns and grasses spill playfully out across the mat.

He said, “It’s unique in how it breaks the mat and becomes more natural, more of an abstract landscape.”

Sears chose many of the works in the show for this sense of play and experimentation using everything from ceramics, wood, and paint to collages of digital images.

He was particularly taken with an exquisitely detailed watercolor of a vine growing through a fungus by Lee D’Zmura, a botanical artist from St. Michaels who often teaches at the Arboretum and will have a solo show in the Visitor’s Center in 2012.

“The fungus is awesome,” he said. “It comes out of the botanical art tradition, but that vine trailing across the paper makes it almost postmodern. She has such a delicate touch. I look forward to seeing her show.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists, supported in part by Caroline County Council of Art. It is on view through April 1 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, the Arboretum will build a new LEED-certified Arboretum Center and entranceway to broaden educational offerings and research initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit www.adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Photo: "Tuckahoe River Morning Fog" by artist David Stevens is among the works on view at Adkins Arboretum. The Arboretum’s twelfth annual art competition, Discovering the Native Landscapes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, in on view through April 1.