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Faces of woman

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By Birdie Jaworski

A middle-aged women sits on a rugged brick floor, arms folded tightly across her chest, a thick plaid blanket tucked around her waist. A corner of white fabric lies next to her, suggesting a selection of unseen tooled silver, perhaps tiny spiral earrings, or delicate belt conchos in the shape of the zia. Her slightly pained expression speaks of fatigue, of crisp Santa Fe air. Deborah Paisner’s oil painting, “Carol at the Palace of Governors,” examines contemplation, waiting, longing — the emotions of time, the emotions of every working woman.

Paisner’s work, along with that of 35 others, is on display from Sunday through April 11 during the 18th Annual Faces of Women exhibition at NMHU’s Burris Hall. Sponsored by the Las Vegas Arts Council, the prestigious event celebrates aspects of the feminine in symbolic or representational form in two and three dimensions.

The juror for this year’s competition is Mary Anne Redding, a curator, archivist, arts administrator, educator, and Curator of Photography at the Palace of the Governors’ New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe. Previously, Redding was the director and curator at the New Mexico State University Art Gallery. While in Las Cruces, she received a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in support of regional artists of the Southwest.

As a new curator in New Mexico, Redding stated upon her move, “I set up several curatorial challenges for myself as a curator new to the Southwest. The first challenge was to seek out regional artists and schedule studio visits in southern New Mexico and west Texas in order to find out who was working here and what they were doing creatively.”

Redding will judge the finalists, selecting her favorites prior to Sunday’s Opening Preview and Artists’ Reception. Past finalists in the annual event have included 2006 grand-prize winner Julia Lauer-Cheenne with “Eyeing Politics,” a study in mixed media that examines the complicated relationship between women and their bodies in terms of the law, as well as 2007 “Best 2-D” winner Elaine Querry for her oil-painted silver print, “Nightway,” a gorgeous shimmer of feminine line and mystery.

This year’s exhibition invited all artists everywhere to submit original pieces in any artistic media, resulting in a list of both well-known and new artists. Carol Frances ended a 20-year career in business after 9/11 to pursue her long-time passion for art. Her selected piece, “Matters of Love: The Cage and Dress that Can’t Be Worn,” in oil and gold leaf, offers an uneasy look at body image. The vivid blue eyeliner-rimmed eyes of an older blonde woman peer in hunger through a slot surrounded by hangers, by the line-drawn hint of a dress.

LVAC Board Member Marisol Macias’ piece, “Scheherazade’s Dream,” was selected by Redding to appear in the show. The digital collage shimmers with rich hues of cyan and gold. A woman’s face, hair covered in a dark scarf, enigmatically stares through a window. Turret-like curves and careful scrollwork accent the work, reminding the viewer of mosques, of ancient magic carpets.

“It’s about women in the Muslim world,” explains Macias. “It’s something I haven’t had a chance to show before. I created it partly on paper, and partly on the computer.”

The call for entries realized in 76 entries from 22 different states, with 35 artists chosen for the exhibition.

“The juror came over and looked at all the slides and CDs,” Macias said. “Some of the artists have more than one piece selected, bringing the total number of pieces in the show to around 45. This is the eighteenth year, and the reputation is wonderful. The quality of work is incredible. We’ve received all kinds of media — paintings, photography, sculpture.”

Winning artists will be recognized at Sunday’s Opening Preview and Artists’ Reception, held from 3 - 5 p.m. at Burris Hall. The public is invited to attend.

For more information, visit the Las Vegas Arts Council website, www.lasvegasartscouncil.org, or by inquiry to lvac@cybermesa.com.