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2023 Masters Exhibit

Mastery has meant different things through art history. There is a way in which mastery has always been connected with coordination and technical skill, for whole eras borne out as precise exercises in accuracy and representation of the world as it appears to the eye. Then in the twentieth century, two world wars, cultural upheaval, and a loss of the assumption that human advancement is always and automatically toward something good…this modern constellation of circumstances led artists to new understanding of their roles, their prerogatives. Traditional subject matter, classical composition, and overt demonstration of technical skill were, for a new generation of artists, subordinate to experimentation, exploration, imagination, and in general a claiming of the right to adjust and invent imagery to serve an expressive or communicative purpose.

For an artist to ignore or even subvert tradition is always a risk, and for each major development in 20th century art there was rejection and pushback. But artists’ proximity and access to each other fueled new movements, reinforcing their claims to the territories of non-pictorial harmony, emotional expression through mark-making, and imagery as a means of communication over documentation. Our 10th Masters Exhibit reaches back through the movements of recent art history that we’ve explored in previous exhibits, with reminders of how mastery itself has taken shape in the past 100 years. Abstractionists paved the way for artists to compose and express without pictures; surrealists wielded the power of imagined and dreamt scenes to reveal the human psyche; expressionists used their very marks to convey energy and feeling and guide an emotional experience for the viewer. From the widely renowned to the less-hailed avant garde, the modern masters of the 10th annual Masters Exhibit are exemplars of new understanding and brave, intentional change of the roles of art and the artist.