Hardy Gallery’s Juried Exhibit Kicks Off Socially Distanced Season

When visitors enter the Hardy Gallery for the first time, it’s usually because they’re drawn to the building’s colorful, storied exterior. The colorful graffiti splashed across the siding of the Hardy Gallery make for an unusual exterior, but they aren’t the only things that set the space apart. 

“The Hardy is really the best resource for the public to get familiar with the art scene of Door County,” said Executive Director Sarah Zamecnik, “and our volunteer docents do a great job directing people where to find art around the peninsula.” 

As is exemplified by the Annual Juried Exhibit, now in its 58th year, the Hardy Gallery has remained committed to showcasing both emerging and established local artists since its inception in 1962. 

During the Annual Juried Exhibit, up-and-coming artists who may not have exhibited in galleries yet have the opportunity to see their work displayed in the Hardy Gallery space and receive feedback. For more established artists, this exhibit is the perfect occasion to experiment with new styles and content. Every year, it features a wide variety of media: painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, ceramics, mixed media and more.

Although this year came with pandemic-related challenges, the Hardy Gallery decided to continue with an in-person – albeit socially distanced – season, which has kicked off with the 58th Annual Juried Exhibit through Aug. 9. In keeping with the guidelines outlined in Phase 1 of Wisconsin’s Badger Bounce Back Program, masks are required to enter the exhibit; only 10 people may circulate at a time; and they must maintain six feet of social distance at all times.

During past years, the exhibit has included a rejection process, but this year, the board of directors decided to eliminate the rejection process. This shift allows all submitting artists to participate, thus creating a better opportunity for emerging and mid-career artists. Additionally, board members selected one professional artist to jury the exhibit and provide subsequent commentary in the form of an online panel talk July 23. According to Zamecnik, these changes allow artists and the public to get the most out of the critiquing process. 

“Critique is so important in developing your art. It helps you better understand your strengths and weaknesses and what you need to improve on,” she said. 

This year, award-winning landscape painter Brian Sindler juried the exhibit. A regular in Door County and a frequent participant in the Door County Plein Air Festival, Sindler is well known for his tonalist landscapes and nocturnal scenes. 

“Sometimes you don’t choose things [to paint],” Sindler said. “They choose you. When I paint, I tend to be hesitant to put down sharp contrast. Even during the day, I’d rather paint fog. I’ve always been attracted to the way everything fuses together at night. It leaves the viewer with more opportunity to experience the painting as opposed to being shown everything.”

First place, Best in Show: Steve Stanger, “Björklunden,” photograph

During an in-person walk-through July 16, Sindler deliberated on four awards: first place ($500), second place ($400), third place ($300) and the Julia Van Roo Bresnahan Artistic Achievement Award ($200). He also identified three honorable-mention recipients. 

“I’d much rather have the paintings roll off of me than walk around with a clipboard,” said Sindler. “My first reaction is what I look for – my immediate reaction. When I’m attracted or drawn in, that immediately gets me engaged with the painting. The essential element of a good painting is an image that moves somebody – moves them to tears or laughter or curiosity.” 

On July 20, the Hardy Gallery announced the award recipients: 

• First place, Best in Show: Steve Stanger, “Björklunden,” photograph

• Second place: Shar Coulson, “Dream Drifting,” painting

• Third place: Hermke Timm, “The Cake!,” watercolor

• Julia Van Roo Bresnahan Artistic Achievement Award: Thomas Jordan, “Mysterious Mustache,” photograph (below)

• Honorable mentions: Cole Ryan, “Gaia,” digital art; Connie Glowacki, “Yesterday Remembered,” watercolor; Mac Schueppert, “Evening Light on the Wilfred Sykes,” pastel

The Hardy Gallery is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 12-5 pm, through Sept. 13.

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