YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As the National Midyear Exhibition nears, Louis A. Zona is occasionally asked if the art works bear the weight and emotion of the pandemic.
The answer, says the longtime executive director of the museum, is no.
“If anything, it’s the opposite,” Zona says. “They are a healing type of thing. Playful things, colorful paintings, and a wide range in terms of approach.”
Zona points out that only one piece has a pandemic theme – an oil on canvas painting of a doctor wearing a face shield, titled “In the Frontline,” by Alberto Jorge Carol of Miami, Fla.
After being canceled last year because of the pandemic, the National Midyear, the Butler’s annual juried exhibition that is open to artists in all 50 states plus U.S. territories, is returning.
It opens July 18 in the adjacent MacIntosh, Finnegan-Hynes and Davis galleries, on the museum’s second floor, and runs through Sept. 5.
For this year’s 85th annual show, 140 pieces by 126 artists from 18 states were selected from a pool of 727 entries from 269 artists across the country. The majority of artists are from Ohio, with several from the Mahoning Valley.
The juror was New York artist Paul Ching-Bor. The winners were selected by Anderson Turner, director of galleries at Kent State University.
The Butler exhibited works by the Chinese-born Ching-Bor in 2019. The artist is known for his large paintings of structures, such as bridges and buildings in New York, that have a characteristically heavy and moody atmosphere.
The works in the National Midyear are in a variety of two-dimensional media including oil, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, drawings, prints, photographs, and digital art.
Zona says the exhibition reveals “the state of the visual arts in America, from conventional approaches to painting to contemporary modes of printmaking, photography and drawing.”
Curator Ching-Bor selected “a first-class exhibition… that clearly demonstrates the vitality of American art today,” Zona says.
An opening day reception will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Participating artists from around the country will be in attendance for the awards presentation.
A catalog of the works included in the National Midyear will be available at the museum store.
Admission to the Butler is free. The museum, 524 Wick Ave., is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
National Midyear Exhibition, The Butler Institute of American Art
Best in Show: “This Instant,” acrylic and colored pencil on canvas, Marc Ross, Columbus, Ohio.
First Place: “Mother Always Loved You Best,” oil on aluminum, Lynn Davison, Naples, Fla.
Second Place: “Sophisticated Lady,” mixed media, Chuck Fischer, Rocky River, Ohio.
Third Place: “Collateral Damage,” Josh Mitchel, oil on canvas, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Director’s Award: “Landscape,” relief inks on paper, Alice Carpenter, Columbus, Ohio.
Allied Artists of America Award: “Time Is of the Essence,” graphite and colored pencil, Debrah Butler, Kent, Ohio.
Phil Desind Award: “Ed’s Easy Diner,” watercolor, Bruce McCombs, Holland, Mich.
Honorable Mention: “Union Square,” oil, Camp Hill, Pa.
Honorable Mention: “In the Frontline,” oil on canvas, Alberto George Carol, Miami, Fla.
Honorable Mention: “Baby White Egret,” photographic composite on metal, Ryn Clarke, Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Honorable Mention: “Another Covid Ozone Manic Monday Morning,” oil on canvas, Glenn Jambor, Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Pictured at top: Allan Charles Orr of Youngstown’s oil painting “Aye! Izzyrose She Is” is part of the National Midyear exhibition.