2012 Art Competition, Discovering the Native Landscapes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, on View Through March 30 at Adkins Arboretum

From the wild flurry of a flock rising over a corn field to a bright-eyed fox stalking its prey, Discovering the Native Landscapes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Adkins Arboretum’s thirteenth annual Art Competition, is a varied portrait of the Eastern Shore. Including paintings, photographs, prints, and ceramics, the show is on view in the Arboretum Visitor’s Center through March 30. There will be a reception to meet the artists Sat., Feb. 25 from 3 to 5 p.m.

The Arboretum was honored to have Erik Neil, executive director of the Academy Art Museum in Easton, as the juror for this year’s show. Of the 122 entries drawn from as far away as California, Neil chose 22 of them to be in the show.

It was also his task to choose the winners of the annual Leon Andrus Awards. Named for the Arboretum’s first benefactor, these prizes were awarded by Neil to four of the artworks in the show.

First prize went to “Native/Invasive,” Baltimore artist Christine Neill’s nearly four-foot-tall scene combining watercolor and digital photography. Painted with confident strokes of subtle color, its two graceful plant forms float one above the other over a background of tangled underwater plants and watery reflections.

Neil said, “I selected this watercolor and digital print because I admired the ambitious scale, the sensibility of color, and the satisfying composition.”

There’s a very different atmosphere in the second-prize winner, “Mill Creek,” an acrylic painting by Mark Wotherspoon of Dover. Still and hazy as an old mirror, its waterway runs through a wetland thickly bordered with billowing trees.

“I liked the mood and the combination of the intense green with an almost naive definition of the forms,” Neil explained. “The painting has a dreamy or even surreal feel.”

Neil also awarded two Honorable Mentions. The first went to “November Adkins Arboretum,” a photograph by Karen Klinedinst, of Baltimore, for her use of new technologies to create mood. In this case, it’s the bittersweet beauty of late autumn. Captured with her iPhone while she was walking in the Arboretum, the shadowy edges of this photo intensify the warm golden glow of a bare oak tree standing in a weedy clearing.

Very different is the second Honorable Mention. Chosen for its simple composition and mastery of technique, “Wild Ginger” by botanical artist Jerry Kurtzweg is a giclée print of a graphite drawing with every curve of its scalloped leaves precisely captured in a soft, understated drawing style.

This is a diverse and lively show. There’s beauty in the patterns of river birch twigs imprinted on a ceramic vase by Paul Aspell, and in the soft light slanting through the trees in a photograph taken with a pinhole camera by Mary Agnes Williams. There’s also food for thought in “Scarey House,” Julia Burr’s painting of the long-abandoned home, and the distant cooling tower rising over a quiet marsh in Richard Hall’s photograph, “Wetlands in the Balance.” Neil’s choice of these works reflects the wide variety of landscapes on Delmarva, from wetlands to farmlands to forests, as well as offers a view of the many ways that artists see them.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists, supported in part by Caroline County Council of Arts. It is on view through March 30 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, the Arboretum will build a new LEED-certified Arboretum Center and entranceway to broaden educational offerings and research initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit www.adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.