Counting cards

National Invitational draws on contributions from all 50 states

Katie Waters’ “US 41, Northern Indiana” (colored pencil).
Susanne Forestieri

Artists from across the country were invited to create postcard-sized images reflecting the state or city in which they live. It could have been a mind-numbing exercise and, in fact, Bridge Gallery coordinator Jeanne Voltura had trouble finding artists eager to commit to the task. But a core of five artists recommended others, who recommended others, until all 50 states were covered.

As you might expect, the pieces are diverse, both in subject (nature to political commentary) and approach (traditional painting to cartooning). But it’s amazing how many unique and personal images have been wrought, given the grand and intimidating premise of the National Invitational Postcard Exhibit.


National Invitational Postcard Exhibit
Four stars
Through July 2
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
City Hall Bridge Gallery, 400 E. Stewart Ave.

One of my favorites is Bob Erickson’s Wisconsin entry, “New Hope,” a monotype that looks at first glance like a black-and-white photograph of a haystack, but when viewed closely reveals itself to be a mass of black pigment scraped to create a rich texture. I was delighted to be fooled and marveled at the power of a simple image placed resolutely in the center of a gleaming white piece of paper to represent contained chaos.

Several of the entries are enigmatic and intriguing. Justin Favela’s “Las Vegas, Las Vegas,” a photograph of a clay house and tree reminiscent of a child’s drawing, strenuously avoids stereotypical Las Vegas imagery. Joelle Dietrick’s Florida entry, “Academia Near the Everglades,” is an accomplished drawing of two aerialists in midair set against a bold pattern redolent of Indian weavings, not the circus background you’d expect.

There are many fine drawings, but Amy Schmiebach’s “Kansas” has a unique quality. She overlaid irregularly outlined shapes suggestive of continents on a grid pattern reminiscent of an antique tin ceiling.

To me, the most moving piece is Jesse Royston’s mixed media “Renew Orleans.” Without being explicit, its muted colors and varied textures—from thin washes to thick impastos—suggest murky water, broken tree branches and floating detritus.

AnChi Chen’s cartoon “Silicon Valley” slyly contrasts a rushing crowd of computer-headed people with a distant and serene vista of rolling hills sparsely populated with saplings (nature subdued).

The most overtly political is Harvey Weiss’ “Liberty,” an Inkjet print of a familiar postcard of the Statue of Liberty, on the base of which he superimposed, in chiseled Roman letters, “Gay Marriage—Love Is a Higher Law.”

What a pleasure to be reminded that in this country individuality is still alive.


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