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The Art of Celebration Mayor's Art Show, Salon des Refuses display picks, discards.

Byline: Bob Keefer The Register-Guard

The Eugene art world turned out in glitter and in force Thursday night for the twin openings of the Mayor's Art Show and the Salon des Refuses - the two biggest civic art events of the city's cultural year.

Mayor Kitty Piercy cut a ceremonial ribbon leading downstairs to the Jacobs Gallery after a mercifully brief series of speeches in the Hult Center lobby, letting a crowd of several hundred artists, art lovers and art patrons see exactly which artists this year's jury had selected.

The jurors - Sue Keene, Terry Carter and Sarah Grew - picked 58 works from 425 entered by Lane County artists in the annual show.

The losers were eligible to enter the Salon, which opened an hour later at New Zone Gallery a few blocks away downtown.

The two openings added up to a fluid, wine- and music-fueled party that ebbed back and forth across downtown all evening, marking the first round of this weekend's Eugene Celebration.

As usual, many of the artists entering the show tended to be up-and-coming outsiders; established artists around town have a tendency not to bother submitting their work for the competition.

So it was that 24-year-old M.J. Wiens, who arrived in Cottage Grove on Aug. 4 from Purcell, Okla., took away the Director's Choice award given by Jacobs director Beverly Soasey.

Wiens, who said he has supported himself by painting for the past five years, came to Oregon when he wanted to work in a bigger arts world than Oklahoma had to offer.

"You say this is `The World's Greatest City of the Arts and Outdoors,' ' Wiens said. "I believed it. That's really what brought me to come here."

Wiens took away an assortment of gift certificates for his drawing of a face, entitled "My Father Will Come."

An outsider of a different sort was 48-year-old Kum Ja Lee. The wife of Donggyum Kim, president and CEO of Hynix Semiconductor Manufacturing America Inc. in Eugene, has been making art for the past 30 years.

But though she has lived in Eugene for eight years, she explained with translation help from Hynix communications officer Bobby Lee, she hasn't shown her work anywhere.

"She has been sitting at home working hard to express herself," Lee explained.

Her large textile work, "In the Passage of Time," shows a complex organic pattern of inter<302>woven branches.

Piercy, being mayor, chose the Mayor's Choice Award. The award, which included a $200 gift certificate to the Hult Center, a $100 gift certificate from Oregon Art Supply and a couple of bottles of wine from Capitello Wines and Henry Estate Winery, went to Zack Wilkins for his print "Homeless."

Wilkins' print, simple and direct, stenciled the image of a sleeping homeless person onto a large piece of corrugated cardboard, which sat on the floor as though discarded.

People walked past the picture by the dozen before turning and realizing it was part of the show.

Piercy said the decision came from her heart.

"I actually looked at all 400," the mayor said. "And you know how much time I got to look at them? Forty-five minutes. I went through and responded to what moved me."

Piercy managed to pass over a photographic portrait of herself that was entered in the show. The mayor's show jury also said no, so that one hung in the Salon des Refuses.

Juror's Choice awards went to Jean Denis, for her "Unknown Woman - Sarcophagus Painting - Fayum, Egypt"; Kyle Mulligan for his encaustic and oil painting, "Beatnik Lounge"; and to Annie Frantzeskos, for an untitled photograph.

The Designer's Choice Award went to Linna Muschlitz, for her sculpture "Anagama."

This year's Best of Show award went to Perry Joseph, for his print titled "Holy War."

Gallerygoers will be asked to vote on the Viewer's Choice Award, which will be given after the Eugene Celebration.

At the Salon, a larger and more boisterous crowd packed the New Zone to see a show that was crammed, one painting hung above another, into the storefront gallery.

There, Sweet Home artist Guido Bondioli pointed out his painting of a woman, done on fabric from Guatemala, where he lives part of the year. Not only was it rejected, he said, he nearly wasn't allowed to enter in the mayor's show for jurying because the work wasn't framed.

"That's one way to guarantee you get into the Salon," he joked. "Just don't frame your art."
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Title Annotation:Arts & Literature
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 7, 2007
Words:740
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