George Dombek, who judged this year’s “Delta Exhibition” at the Arkansas Arts Center, is a celebrated watercolorist known for his neat, linear, objective work. That might explain the preponderance of inkjet images and watercolors in this year’s exhibition, which opened last and runs through Sept. 20 in the Townsend Wolfe and Jeannette Rockefeller galleries.
My own bias is that I prefer the linoleum cut by Neal Harrington, the wood sculpture by Robyn Horn, the ceramic sculpture by Aaron Calvert, the pencil drawing by Debi Lynn Fendley, the graphite and embroidery floss by Jennifer Sargent, the lithograph and chine colle monoprint by Aj Smith, the oil by Peter Cullum and the mixed media and thread by Laura Terry. Thank goodness Dombek liked them, too.
Dombek named as award winners a lot of the works I liked: Harrington’s “Feather Signal,” depicting a man in a boat holding up a glowing bird cage; Horn’s “Sideways,” another wonderful composition in carved maple burl; Terry’s Miro-like “Ozark Landscape, Late Summer,” Calvert’s “Giving Figure,” a tall stoneware clay bodhisattva covered in cartoon- and glyph-like images and with a face of gold.
Cullum’s tree trunk in a dark palette of greens and oranges (“Ecotone 3”) deserves a long look, as does Sargent’s “Shadow Warrior 3,” a complex combination of fine lines and gouache vaguely reminiscent of Northwest Coastal Indian art in design. Dayton Castleman’s “Domestica (Stovetop),” a fish-eyed painting of books in saucepans (“cooked books,” my art maven companion explained), is nicely done. Fendley’s horizontal drawing “Dryads” reminded me of Dan Witz’ “Vision of Disorder” in last year’s “State of the Art” exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Mark Lewis of Tulsa won the Grand Award again (he also won awards in 2012, 2013 and 2014) with his cut-out black and white collage “Under the Oak (Woodward Park).” I like Lewis’ work, but he is a bit messy with the hot glue gun, and one worries about how long the work will hold up. Other winners are Lisa Krannichfeld for her watercolor and mixed media “Shirt (in gold),” Michael Preble for his installation “Unintended Consequences,” John Salvest for his installation “Cage A,” and David Underwood for his photograph “Abandoned Schoolhouse.”
For the show, the 57th “Delta,” Dombek selected 72 works from 882 entries. Sixty-eight artists are represented, 48 from Arkansas.