Challenges 2022 – 2023

February Challenge – Memories – Juror: Jane Mann

Fellow Artists, I want to thank all the entrants for their wonderful interpretations of their “memories”.
  • Winner: I congratulate Karen Cohen for her digital photograph, Memories. The monochromatic colors with just a hint of blue, especially in the eyes of the doll, allow the textural elements to stand out. They look like neurons allowing our brains to capture and recall memories. The cardboard box that holds these memories gives the image a twist of humor.
  • Honorable mention: Carolyn Rondthaler’s Bluebird with Cruet Set is a charming reminder that “things” can have real importance in returning us to a cherished event or person. Again the neutral and blue colors are soothing. The outlines of the subject make me reflect that, although we say some memories are crystal clear, they become less substantial each time we retrieve them.
  • Honorable mention: Karen Zens gives us Roma. I can’t help but think that anyone who has been in love with or in a location will always treasure both the place and the time. The individual images were well executed. The little windows were a perfect metaphor for recollections shut away until opened.
Thank you again, Jane

January Challenge – Deep Midwinter – Juror: Carolyn Rondthaler

These are my choices for recognition in the January Challenge.
  • First—Jane Mann for “Village Cemetery.” I think this best fit the theme of “Deep Mid-Winter” and it is an excellent composition with a good range of values. It gives me the chills to look at it.
  • Second—Steve Moen for his collage with the “cuppa.” I didn’t see a title, but it definitely conveyed the warmth of being inside and maybe enjoying the time with a friend
  • Third–Victoria Lakes for “Walk on the Brooklyn Bridge.” The subject looks very cold and very determined and the setting is memorable
  • Honorable Mention–Ken Bachman. I didn’t see a title, but Ken’s work is always strong. It is a good composition and strong colors
  • Honorable Mention–Steve Moen for the haiku paired with the painting. Very creative..”gathered on the Bough….”
I hadn’t realized how hard it would be to choose as all of the entries were interesting. It was fun, though, to take a good look.

December Challenge – Holliday Spirit – Juror: Ken Bachman

There are many entries that capture the spirit of the holidays making it hard to narrow down to a few choices, but here are mine:
  • First Carolyn Rondthaler Ukrainian Snowgirl (#1)
  • Second David Mann Milk and Honey
  • Third Karen Zens Watercolor Sketch
  • Honorable mentions for GS Moen and Deb Hurtt

November Challenge – Feast — Juror: Parisa Parsafar

Here are the winners from the “Feast” challenge. Thank you all for participating and sharing your work. Special thanks to our juror, Parisa Parsafar, for taking the time to select each piece and sharing her insights. Read below for her choices and remarks-

  • 1st place: “Preparing the Feast” by Kenneth Bachman. The composition of this beautiful oil painting leaves the impression of a whole community gathering food and preparing a feast. I am drawn to the ambiguous time period – it could be happening in several different decades. I love the blending of the brushstrokes, content focused on bringing people together, and that it provokes questions (I want to know what celebration the feast is being prepared for).
  • 2nd place: “ChowinDown” by Martin de Alteriis.  I love the color and graphic, cartoon-like nature of the piece that makes the caricatures striking and light-hearted at the same time.
  • 3rd place:  “Harvest” by Elin Whitney-Smith.  I loved the depth and texture in the piece, how the happy accidental tears were incorporated as part of the design, the warm hues, and the lovely memories of cooking with my family that it evoked.
  • Merit: “Handmade ceramic dish” by Rifat Taher. I tried to stick to my selection framework but I found these pieces so captivating I had to honor them. I selected the green ceramic dish. I am drawn to the vibrant, glossy finish, how the pattern almost looks like lace, and the intricate shadow cast from sunlight feeding through the open spaces in the dish. 

    Congratulations to the winners!


    October Challenge – Crossroads — Juror: Steve Kunin

    As usual there were plenty of good images to choose from. In my judging I leaned slightly more to the idea of “being at the crossroads”; having to make a choice between two or more options rather than an image of a physical crossroads.

    With that in mind I have honored the following submissions:

    • 1 st place: “Gauging Potentials” by Parisa Parsafar. I was attracted to the lines, colors, and shapes. It’s a very graphic image that can be taken in at once and explored in more detail with further inspection.
    • 2nd place: “Junction” by Gregg Adams. The image has captured the action of the moving train at the intersection of two metro lines. Conversion to black and white was a wise choice. This one did fit more into the category of a physical crossroad or intersection. (OK, so I have not been entirely consistent.}
    • 3rd place: “Crossroads Labyrinth” by Carole Rondthaler. Nicely conceived and colored. I had some fun tracing the path to the center of the labyrinth and out again. Very engaging. The image is probably more impressive in person since it utilized metallic pen.
    • Merit: “Untitled, 30” x 30” by Tom Chabolla. An extremely simple image. Although there is only one road leading into the distance, I can imagine someone on that road struggling with the decision to continue along that road into the unknown or to turn around and go back to safety. “

    September Challenge – Juror: Rosa Vera

    “Color field is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color spread across or stained into the canvas creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. The movement places less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and action in favor of an overall consistency of form and process. In color field painting “color is freed from objective context and becomes the subject in itself” (“Themes in American Art: Abstraction, National Gallery of Art.)”
    Many of the submissions were about color and I took this into account in selecting the pieces for the September show. All of the pieces were beautiful, full of lush colors.
    First place is Steve Kunin’s “Lifeguard Station, Venice, CA”
    It is the colors and their placement that make the composition.
    For second place, breaking away from the definition above, I choose Ken Bachman’s piece “Wildflowers”,
    which is literally a field filled with lilacs.
    Finally, for third place, Jane Mann’s “Swirl.”
    which is an abstraction full of colors.

    August Challenge – Nocturnal — Juror: Amy Bandel

    “It was really hard to select a winner, so much good work was entered this month.

    • Winner
    • My selection for the winner is Night Visitor by Rosa Vera.<>It captures the colors, shadows and textures of night, along with the watery feel that light has in the dark.

    • Honorable mentions
    • The Riva Ends A’tween Two Hills by Elin Whitney-Smith.
      I like the colors, textures and patterned brush stokes. There is a spiritedness and vivacity that helps tell the story.
    • Moon Glow by Tara Hamilton
      shows the weight of darkness and shut off places that are their own world.
    • Taxi by Steve Kunin
    • is a bold image that stays in your head. Although just a taxi storefront, you think about the rest of the night that leads you to just eeding a taxi home.

    July Challenge — American Landscape — Juror: Elin Whitney Smith

    Morgan Run Trail — Acrylic paint by Amy Bandel
    I love the contrast between swaths of color and fine line. I like the choice of colors especially the hint of purple at the edges. The whole piece works together so that I want to follow the trail.

    Honorable mentions in no particular order;
    La Verguenza, street in Puerto Rico — Photograph by Maria Helena Carey

    This is wonderful for the color, the hint of what lies beyond – up the street/alley. And the flag reminds us that Puerto Rico is part of the American Landscape.

    Mountain Majesty — alcohol ink by Karen Cohen
    Liveliness! A fresh look at what mountains might be and might symbolize. It made me smile as soon as I saw it.

    Monumental Beauty — encaustic painting by Anne Stine
    Since I also dream and visit Maine I was instantly drawn to it but what made it special was the bubbles in the foam around the rocks combined that transitions to the sunset in a wonderful way.

    All the artists who submitted work are doing wonderful work. It was a pleasure to see them all.

    June Challenge – Duality —Juror: Nan Raphael

    “Thank you to all who contributed to June’s Monthly challenge-Duality.

    1st place- Elin Whitney’s Yin Yang Duality–was best (in my mind) in the literal sense. In addition to the contrasting colors the detail in the dragons..the texture of their skin, their faces effectively reflected the theme..not to mention the technical skill in creating this work.

    2nd Erin Thompson’s Presence and Absence–tribute to her dad show masterful skill with pen and ink as well as the duality of something tangible that is a reminder of him in his absence.

    3rd Martina Sestakovas Rupture–just with 2 of the three colors of the American Flag with white as neutrality, red being bold screams the horrors that our country has faced with all the shootings, Jan 6th etc.

    Thank you to all who contributed and have a wonderful, artful summer.

    May Challenge – Climate Change – Juror: Rosa Vera

    The choices for this month were difficult to make. I wanted to take into account the climate change theme as well as the work itself.

    First of all, let me thank all of you that entered for thinking about this theme and submitting.

    My first choice is Nan Raphael’s @solopikolo digital photograph, “World on Fire,” both for successfully portraying the theme and also for the piece’s composition. The light and dark values make my eye move around the entire photograph. The colors are stark.

    My second choice is Martin Rundle’s @district.gesture “Dwelling,” The beauty of the ruins amidst the traces of an ancient river on the cliff face are strong reminders of climate change. His description of the drought problem and that of water rights of the Navajos bring the climate change to the present.

    And finally, Rifat Taher’s @rif_sultana beautiful book cover, “Floating Words,” makes us reflect on what is happening to our rivers and oceans. The text is placed so well in the composition, it appears to fall from the hand, too.

    April Challenge – Spring Fever – Juror: Kate McConnell

    Spring is invigorating in many ways and the wonderful submissions reflected an aspect of this promising season.
    For first place
    Rosa Vera’s piece
    Not only does the plethora of hues suggest the overwhelming sense of the spring ’s activity, it’s unique composition coupled with the painterly quality of marks, makes this an impressionable painting , a forest of spring.
    Second:, Martin Rundle’s “Spring Break / Fever” photograph.
    The composition and light is in prefect balance in this wide view. The unpredictable nuance of Spring is captured in this image, a necessary quality to Spring … when one is in short sleeves one day to only be in a snow squall the following day. When the balance of season’s is on the tip of one’s fingers… beckoning to stay.

    And – Anne Stine’s “Family Tree”.
    Anne’s incentive to paint this piece is symbolic for many of us who reside in Washington DC, the arrival of the Cherry Blossoms and their countdown is a rite of passage, marking the arrival of Spring.

    March Challenge Great Women Artists — Juror: Jane Mann

    Thanks to everyone for the wonderful entries making judging its own challenge. I appreciated the fact that not only world-famous artists were named but also women who are currently spreading the joy of making art. It also gave me the opportunity to discover new artists I may not have yet become familiar with. Elin Whitney-Smith’s story was probably familiar to many of us. We can remember that moment when our work was first recognized and praised. Sadly many people have been discouraged by the criticism or lack of interest of teachers or peers.
    Here are my selections:
    Challenge Winner: Kate McConnell, Mary Oliver Meets Rachel Carson. These two women have made their names synonymous with the love of and study of nature. The dynamic brushwork immediately made me think of the fraught meeting between humans and nature but could also show the positive energy that nature can inspire.
    Honorable Mention: Martin Rundle, Joan Mitchell in Conversation with Donald Judd. I loved the juxtaposition of Mitchell’s colorful, passionate style framed by the very cerebral style of Judd. And the reflection and the title!
    Elin Whitney-Smith: Sun, Moon and Stars. The movement, details, vibrant colors, diagonal composition and our one tiny ancestor captured the newly created earth for me.

    February Challenge: I Have a Dream — Juror: Elin Whitney-Smith

    The art was wonderful and diverse for the “I Have a Dream” challenge. After I made my choices, I realized that I too must be missing travel since two of the selections reference travel. My dream is that we all can again feel safe to travel, hug, eat together, go to art shows, receptions, and museums, visit one another freely, learn and grow.
    For best in show
    Jane Mann’s “The Traveler’s Dream” For me it evoked the feeling of a dream that is just out of reach. The purple and red give the work a mournful quality which contrasts with the gold of hope and, if you will, salvation.
    She writes:
    “This photomontage was created during the first COVID shutdown when travel to wonderful places like Cordoba was banned.”
    For honorable mention
    “Dream Landscape“, encaustic on wood panel by Anne Stine. The colors and textures and especially the little bubbles and golden foreground give this work its’ dreamlike quality. It makes me want to sail into it.
    “MLK Memorial” by Julie Byrne. This work shows the child arrested in his walk by the sight of the sculpture though his mother seems to want him to move on. Mothers dream great dreams for their children. King’s short and heroic life make him a difficult role model for a child. We want our children to be heroes, but we also want them to be safe. The composition, the use of black and white, and the sculpture itself present a possibly disturbing dream.

    January Challenge: Weather or Not — Juror: Ken Bachman

    “There were many excellent and enjoyable entries this month so choosing winners was quite difficult, but these stood out for me:
    First Place: Elin Whitney-Smith for Fog on the Marsh (and 4pm Maine)
    Second Place: Nan Rafael for Convergence (and Kentucky Avenue)
    Honorable Mentions:
    Jane Mann for Winter Garden
    Hernan Murno for Storm on the Water
    All of these works demonstrated artistic excellence in composition fulfilling the theme and in execution. Congratulations all.”