Life drawing, the oldest art, still gets short shrift in Jackson. We remain a bit prudish; an irony here, where nature’s wonder reigns supreme. Some years ago, in my role as Planet Jackson Hole’s Arts Observatory columnist, I featured Spencer Tunick’s nude landscape photography, then on special exhibition at the Art Association. The image I chose to run with the column featured a nude, rotund couple posed full-frontal in an urban garden, a bright graffiti mural on the building wall behind them.
Artists usually know their art history. H.W. Janson’s comprehensive text, “The History of Art,” is mandatory reading. The history’s first photographic plate shows a nude, the so-called “Venus of Willendorf,” a Paleolithic era sculpture. Janson says carvings from this era are so sophisticated as to rival most contemporary sculpting. Venus’ female form depicts a woman with exaggerated female attributes. This stone carving worships the female figure; it is a deity, a power.
Venus’ weight is the weight of the earth.
Janson’s description notes that she is “….one of many such female figurines, has a bulbous roundness of form that recalls an egg-shaped “sacred pebble.” Her navel, the central point of the design, is a natural cavity in the stone. She (is) based on the spiritual beliefs of “preliterate” societies of modern times.”
Venus’ form is a Paleolithic man’s ideal. Society’s perceived ideal female form has evolved, defined as anything and everything from Reubens’ cello-shaped, meaty “Three Graces” to Renoir’s rounded and perky “Bathers,” to Monroe, to Christy Brinkley’s swimsuit issue bod, to Twiggy, to the anorexic gauntness of today’s models.
CIAO Gallery’s New Years plans include lots of nudes. Aiming to connect regional and international artists, CIAO plans a series of juried events this winter. Kicking off in October, CIAO hosts monthly juried exhibitions. This month’s exhibition, currently posted on J.H. Art Blog, may be found further down this page, or by entering “CIAO” in the Jackson Hole Art Blog search window.
Coming up in November: Wildlife and Landscape painter Greg McHuron juries this month’s “Call to Wildlife Artists.” Application deadline is November 15th. An opening reception will be held November 29th, 6-9 p.m., at the gallery, and is open to selected juried participants. Local and national artists using a variety of media celebrate wildlife-inspired art in this venue.
December features CIAO’s “Call to Fine Craft Artists & Miniatures” exhibition, juried by Cynthia Stotzer. Application deadline is December 5th. This show, “Holiday Miniatures & Fine Artisan Exhibition,” holds its opening reception December 20th, 6-9 p.m. In keeping with its “miniature” theme, all entries are limited to 9″x9″ dimensions.
January 2009: CIAO’s 2nd Annual “Naturally Nude,” exhibition, juried by Mark Nolan, has a January 30th application deadline. An opening reception takes place February 14th–which should get you in the mood–at a time TBA. Again, artists local and not-so-local will compete for, and subsequently share, renderings of art’s oldest subject matter, the nude figure.
For more information, visit www.ciaogallery.com.