Betz Gallery's "Twelve by Twelve" Show Disappoints

Saturday night marked the opening of the Betz Art Gallery's new home at the Summer Street Studio Warehouse. Betz has been in existence for roughly 10 years but was looking to make a move. Summer Street offers an exciting opportunity for both the gallery and the studios. If this corridor wasn't arty enough, having a prestigious gallery move into Summer Street will only bring more attention, giving both the space and the other artists who do their work at Summer Street some love.

Betz opened its doors with its annual "Twelve by Twelve" show. The showcase is a collection of works that all fit into a 12 by 12 sized format, however how the artists use that space is up to them. The annual show has occurred for several years now, and this year Betz received more than 100 submissions to this juried exhibition. Of the 100 artists vying for a slot, 50 were chosen, each being allowed to submit up to three pieces of art. Ten of the artists are international.

Despite the creative freedom being given, most of the artists stuck to the standard 12-inch square. However, within those confines the mediums being used run the gamut. The more interesting pieces were those that were not paint but mixed media. Some used cloth and collage, and those stuck out amongst the overwhelming number of pieces. In terms of pricing, Betz allowed the artists to name their own price, which mostly fall in a nice $100 range.

Much of the art was disappointing in a juvenile sense. One would imagine that given the number of artists and the range of freedom there would be a lot of work to stand out, but this was not the case. Rather there were many similar styles, making the show as a whole lackluster.

Of course there were a few artists who stood out. "Conflict Between" by Lauren Yandell is an interesting watercolor piece of two birds squawking at each other. It almost appears that they have ripped each other apart; red paint drops off them like flowing veins. Dr. Clarence Talley Sr. used the 12 by 12 space three-dimensionally, with a stack of soda cans spray-painted for effect. The cans form a cube of sorts, and structurally speaking, is quite interesting.

The gallery itself is gorgeous. Betz has made good use of the space and the open floor plan allows for a good flow. In addition to the gallery, Betz, a skilled sculptor herself, opened a foundry for like sculptors to work. Several of Betz' own bronze pieces were on display in the gallery and the stole show.

Despite being somewhat dissatisfied with the "Twelve by Twelve" show, I look forward to the next Betz exhibition.

The "Twelve by Twelve" show at the Betz Fine Art Gallery & Foundry runs from November 17-December 1, 2012. For more information visit betzgallery.com.

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