`Own an Original' winners' works on display at Littleton Museum

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Painter Sandra Kaplan, who says she “employs different focal lengths in the same painting, emphasizing differing aspects of what we do (or don't) see,” has selected a variety of works for awards — just over 80 — from the pieces submitted for the 2012 Own an Original exhibition, which opened at the Littleton Museum on Nov. 15 and runs through Jan. 13.

The show is organized annually by the city's Fine Arts Committee, a volunteer group appointed by the city council to advise on art purchases, to stage exhibitions and to offer art-related programming.

In its 47th year, the show has become stronger in overall quality, although this year, there are no longer the fine crafts that were potential holiday gifts.

Kaplan commented that the work in the show is “quite conservative,” while she likes some adventure. “Much of it is really technically proficient.”

Of her choice for best in show, “Pine Needle Branch, Provence,” a watercolor by Ralph Nagel, she said: “It's not showy, but every stroke is meaningful. For a watercolorist, that is really, really hard to do.” The subtle painting of several mature pines in a wooded area has a slightly Oriental feel to it. It is exhibited on the north wall of the gallery.

As one enters the gallery, Sina March's oil painting “Happy Buddha” welcomes visitors. “It has a subtext that most of this work does not have,” Kaplan commented of the first-place winner. “It's amusing.” The painting shows a small Buddha figure on a table, surrounded by an orange, lemon and other offerings. She also cited March's “Soft Side of Manhattan,” which pictures people in Central Park, with high-rises in the background. “It shows the interaction of humans and nature — what I usually look for …”

A large oil landscape, “Gore Creek,” by Karen Burch was one of about five candidates for second place, she said, but much bigger than the others. “It's loosely painted. It's hard to maintain a consistent sense of color, brush strokes and style on that scale.”

“Eye,” Minoo Asaadi's paper collage, won third place. “It's really adventuresome, odd. I would love to see that painter work larger.”

In a phone conversation after she had finished judging, Kaplan repeated, “It's a really good show.” She was surprised there were not more entries, given the very nice first prize offered: gallery space for the winner's own one-person show, plus a $1,000 check.

She was unable to attend the opening reception because she serves on an NEA panel for museum awards and she had to be in Washington, D.C. A closing reception and gallery walk/talk are planned, according to the museum's Lorena Donohue.

If you go

Own an Original is open through Jan. 13 during museum hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. The Littleton Museum is located at 6028 S. Gallup St., Littleton. 303-795-3950.