By Sarah Huang
Rows upon rows of white booth tents stood amidst a grass field on Business Park Drive during the weekend of September 24th. Inside these tents, one could find intricately woven baskets next to brilliant glass sculptures, not to mention carefully rendered paintings and graphite sketches among prints of photography. Such was the setting of the 55th Annual Armonk Outdoor Art Show, one of the highest ranking art and design expositions in the nation, featuring artists from across the world. The show began in 1969 as a way to raise funds for the North Castle Public Library and has since grown and relocated several times to include many more exhibitors and volunteers, all of whom have helped to attract larger audiences. This year, 185 juried artists showcased their work in individual booths while also being able to sell their pieces to the general public. Each year, winners are chosen for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and honorable mention prizes in seven categories differentiated by medium. These categories are printmaking/drawing/pastels, painting, digital art, sculpture, mixed media, fine crafts, and wearable art. Several winners of the 2015 show made reappearances this year, such as fine crafts artist Samuel Yao, painter Christine Schub, mixed-media artist Ummarid Eitharong, and jeweler Steven Kolodny. Their work is a testament to the ability of the show to attract some of the most diverse and skilled artists, all of whom have interesting backgrounds and unique processes in creating their art.
This year, a select number of students from Byram Hills were able to feature their pieces in the high school booth as well. A total of 24 drawings, paintings, sculptures, digital art, and photographs made by juniors and seniors were accepted by a judging committee to be displayed in the art show. Many of the students who submitted are currently enrolled in AP classes in art, ranging from Studio to Photography, Ceramics and Graphic Design. I was able to interview a few of those students in order to gain their impressions of the strength of this year’s work.
Junior Abby Kaiser is currently taking AP Photography and AP Studio, and exhibited two pieces; The first is a realistic pastel drawing of a tiger and and the second is a picture of her friend and herself jumping, manipulated to demonstrate movement. In the show, she was interested in John Scanlan’s photography, whose work consists of large-scale images of European scenery shot to display the serene beauty of historical locations. Another artist who she liked was Yoram Gal, an international Israeli painter who uses mixed media to paint human subjects captured in comical or dramatic interactions.
Senior Allegra Samsen is currently taking AP Photography and was chosen to display her work in the show as well. She had two pieces, the first being a multi-exposure self-portrait and the second being a still life of a church. Among the professional booths, she noted a piece by photographer Mark Mackinnon, titled “Barry’s Bar,” which depicts a man sitting by the sea. She perceived the piece to have a “strong sense of place,” containing “simplistic colors which complimented the relaxing environment surrounding the subject.” Indeed, much of his work is focused upon oceanic scenery and his emphasis of cool and softened tones produces a calming effect.
In addition to students, I also had the chance to interview two of Byram Hills’ teachers. One is not in the art department but has an impressive track record in attending art shows and the other teaches both AP Studio and AP Photography.
Mrs. Montalbano, who teaches biology at Byram, has attended the Armonk Outdoor Art Show for the past 16 years and has also been to the Outdoor Arts and Crafts Festival at the Bruce Museum and the Westport Fine Arts Festival in Connecticut. This year, she attended the show to enjoy the fall weather and catch up on the newest works of returning artists. She noted two painters who were missing in this year’s show but had been past favorites – Paula Egolf and Bao Kei. Egolf’s paintings depict vibrant landscapes with bodies of water. Kei is an Asian-American acrylic painter from Queens. Among this year’s artists, Mrs. Montalbano was particularly moved by painter Dwight Baird, whose depictions of human life in Havana, Cuba gave her a lasting impression of beauty. Ultimately. she purchased two prints from John Margerum, whose work includes colorful drawings of animals such as cows, Montalbano’s favorite animal.
Lastly, I was able to talk with Mrs. Karlin. She attended the show for her love of the variety of new artists’ work and to see her students’ pieces. Among the professional booths, she noted a particular photographer, Paul Schatz, whose use of traditional photography methods appealed to her. He uses large format film to create black and white landscapes of forests and waterfalls, among other natural settings. She also pointed out the work of Andrew Sovjani, whose methods include chemically altering silver gelatin prints (darkroom prints) with bleaches and toners. His photography focuses upon illusions created through geometric arrangements of paper, which he is then able to draw on with bleach and chemical photochemical mark-making. Overall, her opinion of this years artists was positive, and that it was strong.
The 2016 Armonk Outdoor Art Show was evidently another great success as thousands came to view the work of some of the finest artists in the country. With the multitude of new styles and mediums showcased, this year’s collection was particularly interesting and inspirational to the young artists in our own community. It serves as a long-standing example of the great success that can be achieved by putting effort into one’s creative pursuits, and we hope that Byram Hills art students may someday be able to showcase their talents professionally in Armonk Outdoor Art Show.