Byline: Nancy Sheehan
Call it lucky number 13. By any name, ARTSWorcester's 13th Biennial Exhibition is a strong and varied show in which 275 submissions were winnowed down to the 95 works that fill both floors of the group's spacious Aurora Gallery at 660 Main St. in Worcester. The style-and-media-spanning show represents 74 established and emerging artists, with an emphasis on the emerging aspect. The biennial is one of the largest juried exhibitions in Central Massachusetts.
"It fits in with ARTSWorcester's mission to help artists along their career path," Jan Seymour, ARTS-Worcester executive director, said. "This is an opportunity for them to present what they feel is their best work at the moment and to have someone outside the immediate area look at it."
The looking was done by Nick Capasso, curator at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln. How did he feel about the show after all the sifting was done?
"I'm really happy with it," he said. "I have been the juror for the ARTSWorcester Biennial on three separate occasions and I can say with great confidence that this is the best biennial that I have ever done.
"The quality seems to improve every year and it's a task that I happily undertake and if they invited me to do it again I would," he said. (It is extremely likely the talented and likable curator will be tapped again.)
Show participants range from a couple of octogenarians to artists who are barely in college. There is new talent, and talent new to the area. Joseph Farbrook moved here from Colorado about a year ago. His mixed media visual poem, called "A Cell in the New Body," won the Sally Bishop Prize for best in show. His wife, Yana Payusova, took top honors at Worcester Artist Group's Annual Autumn Juried Show last October with a masterful mixed media work titled "Placebo Russian Prison Series Collage," so they certainly have made an artistic impact in a short time.
Farbrook's piece draws connections between individual cells as the components of a human being and human beings as the "cells" of society. His riveting visual poem uses a video screen across which line-drawing images fly by accompanied by flashing, split-second, word-by-word captioning.
"It's kind of playing around with perception and how much you perceive," said Farbrook, who teaches digital art in the interactive media and game development program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. "It looks to be much too quick to read but actually you can read it...