By Michael Bratten
Del Mar College
Del Mar College has the art show down to an art. It was 50 years ago that a visionary art professor at the college, Joseph A. Cain, conceived an exhibition that has stood the test of time: the Annual National Drawing and Small Sculpture Show.
“When it started, there was no show exactly like this,” said Jonizo Cain-Calloway, PhD, Cain’s daughter and professor of English at Del Mar. “I think it put our art department on the map.”
The 50th annual show opened Feb. 19 and runs through May 6 in the Joseph A. Cain Memorial Art Gallery on Del Mar’s East Campus. It features 65 drawings and small sculptures that were selected from more than 130 works from artists throughout the United States.
Internationally recognized book sculptor Brian Dettmer, this year’s guest juror, credits the show’s longevity to its perfect combination of reputable venue, well-known jurors and high visibility for artists.
“The more history a show has, the more valuable the experience is for the artist,” said Dettmer, who has shown his work throughout North America and Europe and has appeared on the CBS Evening News. “To have a consistent show at the same venue for 50 years is a very rare and incredible thing.”
Past guest jurors include sculptors Peter Voulkos, John Chamberlain and Jesus Moroles and painter Mel Ramos, all of whom are respected names in the art world, said Kenneth Rosier, professor of art and chairperson of the Department of Art and Drama at Del Mar.
Gaining attention for an art exhibition at a community college is inherently tough, Rosier said, and meeting that challenge is easier when the pieces are held to high standards.
San Antonio artist Danville Chadbourne, who has two drawings in the show, said its reputation for quality attracts committed artists.
“It’s a high concentration of serious works. You always want your work represented in the best environment and this is a high quality show.”
Chadbourne added that artists have to consider the cost of logistics and shipping before submitting their work to exhibitions in other cities and states. Del Mar allows works to be sent by mail, making the show accessible to artists across the country.
“That’s important because these shows expose your work to audiences you wouldn’t ordinarily have any contact with,” said Kathleen Kase Burk, of Edensburg, Penn., whose abstract pencil drawings, “Kebab No. 2” and “Kebab No. 3,” are in the exhibition.
“The fact that Del Mar purchases art is important too,” she added. “You want your work to be in a good home where it’s going to be taken care of.”
Every year, Del Mar purchases some pieces from the National Drawing and Small Sculpture Show and adds them to its permanent collections, one of which includes a drawing by Burk.
But others benefit from the show besides artists whose work is on display. It’s a true cultural resource for Del Mar’s art students and the Texas Coastal Bend community.
“A show like this is a great opportunity for the students and residents to see new art from around the country and maybe discover an artist they like,” Dettmer said. “It also shows the dedication Del Mar has to the arts. It’s an event everyone should be proud of.”
For more information on Del Mar College’s 50th Annual National Drawing and Small Sculpture Show, go to:
Some of the works in the exhibit can be seen on this Facebook page: