American Art Co. hosts juried pastel exhibit

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Hsiiu Min Hung, of the Pastel Society of Taiwan, won the Founder’s Award for “Lobster,” a photo realist pastel painting. Photo courtesy of IAPS

The American Art Co. (1126 S. Broadway) is hosting a voluminous, radiant show of pastel paintings done by pastel artists from all over the world. The show is a juried exhibit of work by members of the International Association of Pastel Societies.

Limited only to artists who have excelled in their own regional pastel society, the artists featured in this show represent the crème de la crème of the pastel medium, and there are so many of them: more than 80 paintings by some of the most accomplished practitioners of pastel.

Unlike oil or acrylic paint, pastel (the word means “paste”) are sticks of pure pigment bound in a gum or other substance. Pastel sticks (which look similar to crayons) are a means of applying almost pure pigment to the pictorial surface. Thus, pastels have a reputation for remaining true to their original color, whereas other media are prone to darkening or cracking with age.

Microscopically, pastel pigments have a crystal form, which makes them reflectors of light, lending them the luminous quality for which they are known.

Works in this show run a gamut of subject matter, most are traditional: landscapes, still lifes, portraits and genre paintings. A wide range of stylistic preferences are also on display. You will encounter everything from photo realism to impressionistic, expressionistic and gestural work.

Award winners are accompanied by the ribbons that the show’s juror, Ned Mueller (of the Northwest Pastel Society), assigned to some of the paintings. The ribbons give the show a county fair feel.

If you are seeking a pleasant respite, stroll through the American Art Co. and peruse the paintings and the sculptural work (part of the gallery’s permanent display) and spend some time with the artists of the IAPS.

The show runs through April 30. For more information, visit www.iapspastel.org. For more on the American Art Co., visit www.americanartco.com.

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