When Rob Dunlap entered "Imagery and Form '92,'' the juried exhibit held by the Lawrence Art Guild Assn., he thought he'd be lucky just to be accepted.
Little did he know. His two-panel collage won first prize, and the juror, noted Kansas City artist Dean Mitchell, bought the piece.
"Actually it was kind of a nice surprise,'' said Dunlap, whose work along with 67 other two- and three-dimensional pieces can be seen through Feb. 13 at the Lawrence Arts Center, Ninth and Vermont. "I brought in my piece and I saw all these representaitonal works that were so well-framed, and I thought I'd get rejected. But the juror bought it, which was just as much of a surprise. I didn't expect to win let alone sell something.''
THIS YEAR, the guild opened the competition to both members and non-members, and it drew works by older and younger artists from Douglas County, Marysville and Topeka. Inge Balch of Baldwin won first prize in the three-dimensional competition with two ceramic pieces, as she did in the 1991 Art Guild juried show. The exhibition's official opening was Jan. 10 at the center.
"We couldn't be more pleased,'' said Debra Edgerton, current president of the guild. "The reception was filled beyond anyone's dreams, and people have been commenting on how good a selection the show represents.''
Mitchell selected the 68 works from more than 200 entered by 98 artists, organizers said. Interviewed last week, Mitchell said he liked Dunlap's use of composition and color in the collage and Balch's unusual manipulation of shapes and texture in the ceramics medium.
HE ALSO SAID the abstract pieces in the show demonstrated more individual inspiration and ability than some of the more traditional entries.
"In terms of the region, I think it's a pretty good show,'' Mitchell said. "People know that I'm a more traditional artist, and they tend to gear their entries to what they think are my preferences. But I read a lot about abstract work and I like a good deal of it, and I found those pieces to be stronger in execution.''
Dunlap, 26, is originally from St. Joseph, Mo., and he has a degree from Missouri Western State College. He said he moved to Lawrence so his wife could pursue a graduate degree in textiles at Kansas University. This show is the first he's entered in the past few years.
"I FIGURED I had to show some of my art because I wasn't getting anywhere making art for myself,'' he said. "It just seemed like a dead end. I decided to make some effort.''
He began working with collages only recently.
"For a while I was doing a lot of still-lifes based on cubism, but eventually I just ran out of interest in still-lifes no matter what I did,'' he said. "So I got tired of representational things and I started thinking non-objectively.''
Guild members now are considering a plan to open the show to statewide artists next year, depending on funding and logistics, Edgerton said. In that case, the show would be judged based on slides, thus saving artists the hassle of dropping the actual works off at the Arts Center.
"A lot of artists won't go to the trouble of shipping their work all the way here just to be judged with no guarantee of getting in,'' Edgerton said.