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Juror Fernando Casas and first place winner Jiashan Lang peer into the case at her piece, Eight Gods Crossing the Sea. 

with its ninth annual juried exhibition, Archway Gallery is opening its doors for new artists and a local charity. Half of the proceeds from this year’s sales will go to Casa de Esperanza de los Niños, a charity that provides housing for children in crisis, and the other half will go to the artists. Uniquely, this is the first time some of the artists have exhibited in a gallery space, including first-place winner Jiashan Lang.

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Michael Horvath's, T.N.S. Karankawa, second place. 

Lang’s piece, Eight Gods Crossing the Sea, is a dough sculpture of eight small gods in modern Chinese costumes. Curators say Lang has never received formal artistic training, but it’s clear she’s mastered her craft.

“One of the most surprising and wonderful things about this exhibition is that the juror chose people who’d never been in a gallery before, or even had any training,” says curator Becky Soria.

When judging this year’s show, juror Ferdando Casas wanted to keep in mind how skill and training influence beauty. He pointed out in remarks at the exhibition’s opening that creativity is a very mysterious and fascinating thing—something so-called art “experts” often forget. Traditional notions of skill and training shouldn’t limit our definitions of fine art, Casas says; works devoid of "skill," like Lang’s piece, can still be a significant work of art.

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Grassland by Sally Worthington.

Other artists, like Michael Horvath, aren’t new to Archway. Horvath won first place in last year's juried exhibition, but this year his piece, T.N.S. Karankawa, took third. In this work, a small handwritten note tells the story behind a floating crane, narrating the piece's take on the absurd technological civilization we live in today. Sally Worthington, whose Grassland won second place, has also participated in Archway's past juried exhibitions. The subtle color and delicate shading of this monotype and watercolor was a perfect blend between beauty and craft.

While Archway is a private gallery space with 31 members, the juried exhibition is open to non-members every year.

“Juried shows have always been a way for artists to increase potential,”says curator Liz Conces Spencer. “We saw this as an opportunity to open the gallery space up and to give back to the community.”

Archway chose Casa de Esperanza de Los Niños as its partner for the exhibition after hearing presentations from many charities. Most of the charities, including the Houston Humane Society, Young Audiences of Houston, and the Arboretum had partnered with Archway for its juried exhibitions in the past. But Casa was new to the pool, and its commitment to helping a special part of the community made them the perfect partner for Archway’s annual community-building event. 

Ninth Annual Juried Exhibition, Thru August 3. Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy St. 713-522-2409. More info at archwaygallery.com.

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