The Morgantown Art Association is holding its 10th Annual Photography Show, which will be featured as an exhibit in the association’s gallery until early next month.
Photography pieces submitted to the show were judged Thursday and the winning photographs were awarded with ribbons. The photographs will be on display until April 7, at which time photographers are required to claim their work from the gallery.
Morgantown Art Association Gallery Director and Exhibits Chairman Susan Witt said the exhibit was an original idea of hers, conceived when artists were too busy preparing for MAA’s Exhibit 60 Show in April to contribute anything to the gallery in March.
While photographs are occasionally hung during shows or exhibits, Witt said they are often overshadowed by the other types of art on display.
“We have such phenomenal photographers, and they kind of get left [out] sometimes … they kind of take second place to the canvas artists and everything. So I thought, ‘Let’s do a show and make them the spotlight,’” Witt said.
Witt said what was once just an idea for a photography show has since taken off “with a bang.”
She said in addition to recognizing local photographers and their work, the show gives canvas artists the opportunity to display photographs they take and work from, which have previously been inadvertently omitted from shows and exhibits at the gallery.
Dale Sparks, professional photographer and owner of All-Pro Framing and Photography in Morgantown, judged the show this year – but it wasn’t his first time doing so, he said.
Sparks said he developed relationships with MAA staff, including Witt, through his work with The Dominion Post before he left the newspaper to start his own business.
“They knew me and wanted me to judge their contest for them, so every year we would take whoever was working for me … and we’d go over and judge the contest for them,” Sparks said.
Sparks said he has judged multiple photography shows for MAA and believes he has been involved in the show for almost as long as it has existed.
According to Sparks, the major aspect of photography he examines during judging is composition, which he said is the basis for any artistic endeavor.
Additionally, Sparks looks for quality and sharpness of photos.
“Usually, when you’re judging, you know the old saying ‘The cream rises to the top’? It’s pretty much the same way with photography – the really good photos are going to stand out among the just-normal photos,” Sparks said.
Sparks said he also looks for uniqueness in the photographs he judges, as he thinks many types of photographs have become cliché.
“I’m looking for something different – a different way of looking at things, a different way of seeing things, where they take time to compose the picture and think about it,” Sparks said.
Sparks said despite having been a part of it for quite some time, he still gets excited to judge the show each year.
He said there are many talented photographers not just in the MAA, but in Morgantown as a whole, and he enjoys the opportunity to look at others’ work and share his professional insight with them.
“I love judging this contest every year because it’s just fun to go see what people are doing, and then to give them some feedback and try to help them improve. That’s what it’s all about. Even after 43 years, I’m still looking for ways to improve what I do and just keep learning, keep getting better,” Sparks said.
The Morgantown Art Association Gallery is at 5000 Green Bag Road, Morgantown, and is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Capacity is limited to 16 people. All visitors must wear masks and socially distance due to COVID-19. Hand sanitizer is made available by the gallery.