Meeting Artists / by Jeannine Cook

The delightful bonus of judging an art festival is that you meet a variety of talented artists, working in any number of different media. I certainly found that to be the case yesterday when I judged the Art in the Park for McIntosh Art Association, Darien, Georgia.

My score sheets for judging that I had prepared served me well. There were indeed a variety of media and I found that having to answer criteria questions made it much easier to assess work. It was so interesting to talk to each artist that I was quickly losing track of time, to the slight dismay of those who were in charge of the award side of things! Nonetheless, it was important to learn from each artist about their work - they had spent a great deal of time creating work, bringing it to Darien and setting it up in display. The least I could do was to spend time understanding and looking.

There were some wonderful two and three dimensional pieces, but some stood out - as is always the case. Once I had officially acquitted myself as judge, and the awards and ribbons were distributed, I could then take off my badge and become an artist like all the others - a relief! One of the booths to which I then headed was that of an elegant set-up by a South Carolina-based artist, Kim Keats, whose work is entitled "Interlacements". She uses driftwood, wood and other natural found objects and weaves or binds them together to form the most wonderful pieces, often with a very Japanese feel to them. Small treasures and larger ones - elegant, imaginative and restrained. A delight to see.

There were several artists whose passion for nature and environmental concerns informed their work wonderfully. Lydia Thompson is a consummate expert on birds and uses that knowledge to depict birds in delicate prints that are elegant and most appealing. She is even using "green" ink in her printing processes. Another artist who is highlighting the environment's fragility is Nancy Adams, with a very different voice. She is using gourds as fine art - cutting them into the shapes of different species, painting them and then reassembling the pieces into sculptures of complexity and beauty. Hers is a voice that is memorable by its difference and passion.

As Vernon Square began to fill with people strolling and enjoying the art and music, the sun finally emerged from the clouds, and the day became a celebration of talents. It was a lovely way to mark the Blessing of the Fleet for Darien.