By Allison Brown

Pasadena Weekly Staff Writer

The prestigious “Brand 49: Annual National Juried Exhibition of Works on Paper” will be available for free public viewing at the Brand Library & Art Center, starting with an opening ceremony on Sept. 11.

“Our annual ‘National Juried Exhibition of Works on Paper’ is our most anticipated exhibition of the year,” said Shannon Currie Holmes, exhibition supervisor and gallery director. “I believe that the diversity of art styles and the creative use of a single medium (paper) is why this exhibition is so popular with our patrons. No matter what your taste in art, it can be found in our ‘Works on Paper’ show, and ‘Brand 49’ is no exception.”

This year is the 49th annual “Works on Paper” exhibition, and while all the pieces are not exactly “on paper,” every piece must have some element of paper. Holmes said artists get incredibly creative with this medium, and there is more diversity in the pieces than one might expect.

“This year’s selection by our talented juror, Marvella Muro, includes painting, printmaking, photography, drawing, etching, weaving, book making, paper cutting, papier-mache, collage, installation art and even augmented reality,” she said.

Muro is the director of artistic programs and education at Self Help Graphics and Art. She has been active in the art world since 2011. She sorted through more than 1,200 submitted pieces and narrowed down the selection to 110 to be displayed in the show.

“Somehow, I reviewed 1,269 submissions within a month,” she said.

“There were a lot of very long nights. When reviewing the artworks, I looked for ingenuity, technique and content. However, I was also intentional about including diverse styles to present the divergent ways artists approach works on paper.

“This juried exhibition is not my first time jurying an art show, and this was the most challenging given the number of exceptional works submitted. I was asked to select 110 artworks, but I sat and thought about the installation, how pieces complemented one another or how to create an environment within one of the galleries and included 133.”

Besides the large number of submissions, it is also worth noting that 60% of submissions came from artists outside Los Angeles. Debra Thompson, Brand Associates president and coordinator of the exhibit, said out of 126 artists who were selected for the show, about one-third of them were from outside California.

She said they received submissions spanning from the East to West coasts, which may have been from the cost of their entrance fee. In light of the financial impact of COVID-19, especially for artists, Brand Associates lowered its submission fees and offered a waiver for those who wanted to participate but could not pay.

“This year, given the COVID experience, we were sensitive to the idea that artists over the past year and more had just probably not had an opportunity to be in shows or in shows where people could physically do their work,” Thompson said.

“So, we wanted to give them an opportunity, these artists whose income was greatly affected by COVID. So, we reduced our fees considerably and we had a fee waiver so artists who said, ‘I’d like to apply for the show, but I can’t afford to pay the registration fee.’ They were allowed to just, you know, not pay anything to apply. So, I think that really did open up an opportunity to be in the show to a lot of different artists.”

The opening ceremony will be the first time the art is available for public viewing. It will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, and viewers can visit the Brand Library & Art Center or watch a YouTube video of the event from home. During the ceremony, prizes totaling $4,700 will be awarded to six pieces.

One will be selected by Muro and is considered a “best in class” award, according to Thompson. Muro will also assist the board of associates in selecting the remaining five pieces for awards. While she did not want to give away her choice, Muro did comment on a few particular pieces that stuck out to her.

“The three-dimensional works are spectacular. There is a full-sized kitchen cabinet covered with beautifully printed images from top to bottom,” she said. “I also recall one painting of a female boxer sitting topless with a robe draped over her shoulders. Her eyes show how exhausted she is, and if you look closely, you can see a mirage of another woman looking over her shoulder. There is a combined sense of eeriness and sadness to the painting. It is very striking.”

Holmes, who set up the exhibit and viewed all the pieces, said the past year’s issues with politics, social justice, prison systems, global warming and the vast array of emotions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic inspired the works.

The opening ceremony is free and requires masks to be worn in compliance with a city mandate. The exhibit will remain on display until Friday, Oct. 29. Brand Associates will post about each artist on social media for the next few months. Most pieces will be available for sale, and part of the proceeds will go to support the Associates of Brand organization.

“Brand 49: Annual National Juried Exhibition of Works on Paper”

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 11, to Friday, Oct. 29

WHERE: Brand Library & Art Center, 1601 W. Mountain Street, Glendale

COST: Free admission