Special Exhibition: Best in Show Winners from Art in the Park, 2014

In addition to a cash prize, Art in the Park blue ribbon winners, Ashley Sauder Miller, 2-D winner (paintings) and Brian Rayner, 3-D winner (wood), were also rewarded a major exhibition in the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s state-of-the-art galleries.  The exhibit opens Friday, April 10 with a reception from 5-7pm and continues through May 16.  Regular gallery hours are 10-5 Monday-Friday and 10-4 on Saturdays.

Miller earned an MFA in Painting and Drawing from James Madison University in 2007.  She works from her home studio in Harrisonburg, Virginia and is a mother to four young children.

Artist Statement from Ashley Sauder Miller:

This most recent collection of work largely consists of imagery of chairs, bowls, and interior and exterior spaces (both real and imagined).  In this body of work, connections are made between the demands of motherhood, memory, repetitious patterns of thought and behavior, textile design, my children’s mark making, a consciousness of design, Biblical text and stories, and a deep rooted passion for painting, drawing, and making.  In the past year, after quite some time away from any form of serious studio practice, I latched onto the bowl shape.  To me, it was similar to the pod, womb, or breast shape that I had carried with me since graduate school.  The bowl shape gave way to other imagery and shapes (houses, mountains, chairs, interiors) and started to become personal symbols that reference, among other things, my heritage and motherhood.  These pieces shift between recognizable imagery and abstraction, which is created through a consuming working process.  While much of my work consists of large scale paintings, I attach importance to the moments of clarity that happen through a quick generation of ideas in my smaller pieces on paper.

Rayner has worked in wood as a furniture maker/designer for over 25 years, first in Mt. Jackson, Virginia and in Charlottesville for the past eight years.

Artist Statement from Brian Rayner:

One of my earliest influences of furniture design was from the “Arts and Crafts” movement of the early 20th century, primarily the work of Charles Rennie  MacKintosh.  The  “Arts and Crafts” mission style of the Stickley brothers is another significant fixture found in my inventory of hall and coffee tables.  The simple and austere visuals of Deco and Modern Movement Era  furniture/design (late 1920’s to early 1950’s) has also had an impact on some of my original design tables and chairs (G. Rietveld, De Stijl, Bauhaus).  Rounding out my furniture domain are organic, George Nakashima inspired pieces and what I call my “Hobbit” furniture.  These are typically coffee tables with live edge perimeters and non-rectilinear tops, shaped/carved  degraded tree-trunk chairs or undulating tree-trunk base end tables or coffee tables.

Nearly all the lumber used in my furniture comes from a long time friend and former Virginia Forest Service employee who, in stewarding his 1200 acre parcel of land on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, sustainably manages the woodlands that are part of that acreage. The care, expertise, and traditional practices he uses gives me and my customers quality lumber in well-crafted furniture.

Sculpture has only in recent years been part of my woodworking repertoire. Earliest pieces were primarily  assemblages using unique, unusual shaped wood pieces with stone or metal bases. Since 2008, as my study of modern sculptural greats and archaic/primitive styles continued to progress, so too did the creation, quality, and quantity of my sculptural body of work.  Constantin Brancusi and Barbara Hepworth sit atop a large list of admired modern sculptors. Many of my most recent  sculptures and sculptures to come are attempts to emulate the ability of these artists to make form, simplistic and innate, the essence of their creations and to allow, even cause, the viewer to understand better the nature of pure form. My facial busts have evolved in complexity and mastery throughout the four  years of my pursuit into the realm of the human face and facial features. I will continue, I hope, to create sculpture that communicates to the viewer an anima that resonates as universal.