Middle Street celebrates regional artists

Rappahannock County native Jacob Stilley won first place Saturday in a regional art competition at The Middle Street Gallery in Washington. The gallery’s Regional Showcase, drawing from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and the District, featured the works of 13 artists deemed excellent by artist juror Jane Livingston.

Jacob Stilley and his winning painting (top).

Second place went to Martin Levine of Sperryville and Washington, D.C. for his acrylic on canvas “Colca Canyon,” an impressionistic view of a scene in Peru. And third prize was awarded to Yumi Hogan of Annapolis, Md. for her semi-abstract acrylic on paper, “Untitled 3.”

Stilley won for his oil on panel, “111 East Preston St.,” a self-portrait showing Stilley painting at an easel in his kitchen surrounded by a wide-angle view of his apartment, including his cat.

Stilley graduated from Rappahannock County High School in 2005 and now lives in Baltimore. He earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. His paintings were part of a group show at The Bridge Gallery in Shepardstown, W. Va. recently, and he continues to show work at that gallery.

He says he can’t precisely define his style, which he calls “observational” painting. “It’s based on something real, but it’s not concerned with being super-realistic,” he says.

Levine was born in Washington, D.C., and studied at the Corcoran School of Art in the city before attending the University of Rochester in New York and Michigan State University. In Washington Levine pursued careers in public policy, financial services, and international development finance.

After a hiatus of many years, Levine returned to his interest in art 15 years ago “in anticipation of when I wouldn’t be working full-time,” he says. His latest paintings came out of his studio near Sperryville and reflect his interest in the interplay of light, color and shapes, he says.

Hogan will graduate this spring with a Masters in Fine Art from American University in Washington. She has shown works at group exhibitions around Maryland and D.C. since 1996.

“My work is inspired by the natural — that which is rampant, uncontrolled,” says Hogan, a native of Korea.

The exhibition was curated by Janet Brome of Bentonville. Jurist Livingston, of Flint Hill, is a writer and former curator of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington. She reviewed some 200 works submitted by more than 40 artists for the exhibition.
An opening reception for the artists, gallery members and the public was held at The Middle Street Gallery on Saturday afternoon. Gallery president Steven Kenny took the occasion to formally announce that he would relocate to Warwick, N.Y. on April 3. He’s leaving the county to “re-unite with my high school sweetheart,” he says. The gallery recently elected Patti Brennan of Sperryville as its new president.

Kenny also paused to reflect on the recent death of long-time gallery member Tucker Hill of Madison County. Hill, a printmaker, was cited by Kenny for his tireless artistic and administrative contributions to the gallery as well as for his kindness and sense of humor.
The Regional Showcase runs through Mar. 28 The Middle Street Gallery, a non-profit artists’ cooperative.