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Copley Art Society plans national summertime show

Registration closed Monday for the Copley Society of Art’s “Connected Land and Sea” national show.

copley society of art painter on newbury street
Copley Society of Art painter works outside Co|So Aug. 2017. The Copley Society of Art closed registration Monday for its “Connected Land and Sea” national show scheduled to take place this summer. COURTESY OF LESLEE_ATFLICKR VIA FLICKR

The show will be displayed in person at Co|So on 158 Newbury St. and online using a software called Kunstmatrix from June 17 through July 18. Artists who submitted a piece will be notified May 4 if their work is selected for the show.

Founded in 1879, The Copley Society of Art is the oldest nonprofit art association in the country, according to its website.

“Dedicated to the enjoyment of visual arts, the organization provides a platform for arts cultivation while engaging and educating the public,” its website states.

The show has received around 400 submissions from about 250 artists, gallery coordinator Paige Roehrig said, adding this number of submissions is similar to previous years.

“For over 140 years, Co|So has enjoyed a rich history of exhibiting landscapes and masterfully rendered marine art,” she said. “In choosing this title, we’re expecting to see artworks ranging from the Boston School style to abstract interpretations of intersections of land and sea.”

Roehrig said this year’s theme — open to interpretation by individual artists — has encouraged a multitude of perspectives.

“It could be anything from a really straightforward port, where you can see a bit of the dock, a bit of the ocean,” she said, “and then I’ve seen a few submissions so far that took the interpretation to bodies of water that actually connect the land and the sea.”

Marine artist Don Demers will jury the show. Demers said he would be reviewing two main criteria — whether or not the submission should be displayed at the show and if it fulfills the “agenda” of the exhibition — before granting awards.

Beyond adherence to the theme, Demers said he judges works based on how he perceives “the effectiveness of the artist’s intention.”

“Any creative effort, whether it’s dance, whether it’s a performance art, or if it’s a literary piece of work, it has to have a purpose behind it,” he said. “If we … can’t perceive an intention, then all of their efforts were wasted. So, it’s not only about the craft, it’s about the reason behind the craft.”

Demers said community art “gives us signposts” pointing toward the beauty in the world and fueling a desire to create more — “because art and beauty is not a private thing.”

“We as human beings have the opportunity of doing something constructive or destructive on any given day,” Demers said. “We have the opportunity to do something positive or negative. Aesthetic and beauty is in the positive category. It’s also in the creative category, not in the destructive category.”

Roehrig said the goal of the show is to have people reflect on the beauty of nature. 

“It’s the exploration and celebration of nature,” she said, “and the specific aspect of nature that does speak so strongly to New England in particular, but also to places all over the country.”

Roehrig added she hopes the show will have an impact on viewers specifically at this time during the pandemic, which has made it difficult for Bostonians to see art in museums and galleries.

“The theme is something that I think will resonate with just about anyone,” Roehrig said, “because of the beauty the artists will bring to the show, representing nature and representing things that I think allow people to take a step back and get lost in for a moment.”

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