Notes from the Juror of the 8th Annual Living Mark

Award-winning art critic and author Richard Speer

Tomorrow (12 noon-2:30pm, Saturday, May 1) I’ll be at Verum Ultimum Gallery here in Portland for a staggered “soft opening” with an outdoor area for masked socializing, for the exhibition I juried/curated, “Living Mark.” We had 213 artists from around the world who submitted work for consideration, and I had the unenviable challenge of whittling it down to a final 28.

Obviously the selections reflect my idiosyncrasies, including a general tilt toward abstraction, but there is figuration, still life, and landscape too across a spectrum of painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, textile, encaustic, metalwork, wood, dyes, and porcelain. I enjoyed working with the gallery’s founder/director, Jennifer Gillia Cutshall, during the jurying process and am looking forward to visiting with everyone at the opening.

After all the hell we have all been through with Covid, etc. (and that is a BIG etc.!), it is nice to be here after the “long and lonely winter” (cue George Harrison) amid the sunshine and blooms and friends in various stages of vaccination yet still taking precautions, celebrating the sustenance that art blesses us with even under the direst circumstances.

Regarding the show’s title, maybe the most important part is not the “mark,” but the “living.” Because all of us who are reading this have made it through thus far and begun to emerge ever so gingerly into the light at the end of the tunnel we have all traversed. And in spite of all the sadness behind us, that is something worth celebrating.

Richard Speer


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