SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — A perennial tradition at the South County Art Association that was put on hold last year due to the cancellations and restraints brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is back for the first time since 2019, as the Kingston gallery once again plays host to a Members Invitational Exhibit, which debuted last Thursday and runs through Feb. 20 at their main Helme House Gallery.
The invitational exhibit, the first of three scheduled for this year, features works from seven different longtime member artists: painters Burl Dawson, Judi Goudreau and Deb Lichtenstein; photographers Bonnie Jaffe and Marc Jaffe; sculptor Laura White Carpenter and mixed media artist Catherine Radix Mansell.
For Exhibitions Director Jason Fong, who invites a select number of member artists for each such exhibit, there are a few guidelines in place for artists to be selected – and the lack of invitationals last year has given him plenty of options to work with.
“It’s based on their membership and their participation in shows over the years. Several of them have won awards in our shows, but that’s not a requirement,” Fong said. “I generally pick people whose work is of the highest quality, and we also try to give all of our members a turn at a show every few years. So since I didn’t do any shows last year, I have a backlog of some very excellent artists whose work I’m presenting this year.”
Each artist has roughly eight pieces, which exceeds the usual entry limit of three per artist before going through a juror for final selection, something Fong says helps set the Members Invitationals apart.
“This is an opportunity for the artists to show a larger, more complete body of work than they might get in a show,” Fong said. “Typically with our juried shows the limit is three entries per artist, and they’re not all guaranteed to get in, but this is an opportunity for the artist to show pretty much anything that they want. I don’t have size limits or anything like that, so it gives them more freedom as far as what they’re able to show.”
While also not a requirement, Fong said the exhibiting artists usually choose to display their works based on a theme or as part of a series.
“We have a series of seascapes by Lichtenstein, a lot of nautical work by Goudreau,” Fong said. “Carpenter (has) been working on this raindrop series that she’s (been) presenting for quite a while now, so this is an opportunity for her to show the work as a whole.”
Most of the works featured in the show are for sale, with pickup available after the exhibit’s closing next month. Numerous other pieces from outside the exhibit are available for purchase through their online Art Store on the SCAA website or in person at the gallery’s gift shop.
The current Members Invitational Exhibit is on display at the SCAA’s gallery at the Helme House, located at 2587 Kingstown Road in South Kingstown, through Feb. 21 during normal gallery hours of Wednesday to Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., excluding holidays.
“I think it’s a great collection of work that we have,” Fong said. “It’s a great show, I highly recommend people stop by if they get the chance.”
The next exhibit scheduled for the SCAA is the annual Open Juried Paint, Print and Drawing show, which will debut Feb. 25 and run through March 20, with entries due by Feb. 21. The next Members Invitational Exhibit is slated for late June.
For more information on the South County Art Association or to check out their online store, visit their website, southcountyart.org.