The WFWS47 Exhibition Opens in Albuquerque
Last weekend was the official opening of the WFWS47 exhibition in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The weekend began on Thursday evening, May 5th, with a welcome dinner for delegates and artists at the home of a NMWS member. It was an outdoor chuckwagon dinner prepared by the host with barbeque, country music and elegant desserts. It was a fun beginning to the weekend, but even in New Mexico, it gets chilly when the sun goes down and the evening breeze comes up.
The headquarters for the weekend events was the Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town where most of the attendees stayed. Our official delegate meeting was held on Friday morning from 9:00 am to noon. This is the annual business meeting where matters pertaining to dues, expenses, prospectus issues, shipping concerns and other problems relating to delivery and handling of the accepted paintings are discussed. Bonnie Lee and I represented IWS during the meeting and participated in the topics of discussion. Three items were discussed at length: the acceptance and handling of varnished paintings, the cost and maintenance of the WFWS website and the prospectus language regarding use of photo references. One change was made to the WFWS by-laws to conform to actual practice. The bylaws will now state that the delegates meeting each year will be conducted by the delegates of the host society. The society hosting the following year will present and highlight their plans for the following year and develop the new delegate book.
This topic of varnished paintings has been the source of much discussion throughout the world of watercolor and has come up at shows from the local to the national level. At its most restrictive, an originality rule would limit an artist from using any photograph as source material for a painting that was not taken personally by the artist. This is to prevent artists from copying or imitating other people’s work. Many of the delegates feel this level of restriction could be too limiting and stifle creativity. The delegates will hold a Zoom meeting later this summer to continue work on the language for future exhibitions. I would be interested in your thoughts on this matter. Send me an email and let me know how you feel about this topic.
Following the business meeting photos of the assembled delegates were taken for posterity and then everyone was free for the afternoon to explore the shops of old town and Albuquerque’s many museums and attractions. Friday evening featured the actual opening of the exhibition at the Fine Arts Gallery on the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. The gallery is a beautiful stand alone building with many rooms for displaying the art selected for the show. The delegates and artists had the gallery to themselves for an hour before the show was opened to the general public. The sixteen paintings from IWS artists in the show were all beautifully framed in blond wood and were a strong component and positive contribution to the show.
Saturday morning, Bonnie and I attended the delegates networking meeting. These sessions give the delegates the opportunity to informally compare notes and ideas on any topic relating to the annual show. Once again, varnishing of paintings was discussed along with the proposed shift to Google Docs from Dropbox to preserve and share show documentation and correspondence. The group also talked about ideas for future jurors, how best to use social media, attracting younger painters to Western Fed societies, how the different societies use Zoom to supplement in person events and the ever-present shipping and handling difficulties.
The final event of the weekend was the awards gala held Saturday evening at the Albuquerque Art Museum in Old Town. Bonnie Lee, Betty and I, Steve and Pamela Gruber and Anne and John Sorensen were present to represent IWS at the festivities. After drinks and snacks the juror, Iain Stewart, discussed his personal history, his art and how he judges the entries to a show like WFWS. Dave Cook from NMWS and Iain then presented the awards to twenty paintings selected from all the accepted works. Mr. Stewart commented on each painting and what factors led him to give the work an award. During the discussion, each painting was projected on a large screen behind the speakers, visible to all in the room. The work of one IWS artist, Hugh Mossman, was selected for an award because of its loose dynamic style and coloration. Please congratulate Hugh for his excellent work.
Following the trend of the last two years with their covid cancellations, the awards ceremony came to a sudden halt when power was lost, and the museum went completely dark. Somewhere a car had rammed a power pole and caused an outage for a large area around the museum, Old Town and the hotel. After a few minutes, the ceremony carried on with flashlights and cell phones providing illumination till all awards were given out. The true highlight of the evening was the climb up ten stories in the fire escape stairwell to reach our room at the hotel. All in all, a great evening.
The prospectus for WFWS48 should be available early this fall. The Southwestern Watercolor Society in Dallas is planning on an early spring exhibition opening next year to avoid the summer heat. So, plan on having your paintings ready for entry by late fall or early winter. I will send out the prospectus as soon as I receive it. Good luck!