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Artists, curators, and Ohio Arts Council staff at the opening reception of the 2019 Biennial Juried Exhibition at the Ohio Arts Council's Riffe Gallery

Winners Announced for 2019 Biennial Juried Exhibition

all i want is to breathe by Greg MatinFour exhibition awards were announced at the opening reception of the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Riffe Gallery’s current show, the 2019 Biennial Juried Exhibition. The recipients of three Juror’s Choice Awards and one Best of Show Award were honored at the Nov. 10 event.

he third juried exhibition to be showcased in the OAC’s gallery in downtown Columbus, the 2019 Biennial Juried Exhibition features work by 62 artists from 18 counties across the state of Ohio. The show was juried by Sean FitzGibbons, Michelle Stitzlein, and Dr. Louis Zona.

FitzGibbons awarded his Juror’s Choice award to Greg Martin’s piece titled “all i want is to breathe,” which features two glass panes—each printed with a grayscale image—layered on top of each other. The alignment of the layers gives the wall-mounted piece the illusion of dimensionality. Martin, a South Euclid-based artist, recently had his work presented in another Riffe Gallery show, Duo Trio: Contemporary Diptychs and Triptychs by 14 Ohio Artists, which was on view Jan. 24 – April 13.

FitzGibbons, executive director of Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton, Ohio, said he thought the visual 
composition of Martin’s piece is enhanced by the expanded perspective made possible through the glass panels. He added that this element was what inspired him to select “all i want is to breathe” for his Juror’s Choice Award.

Whirlaway by C.R. Houghton“Coming from the sculpture park and coming from a sculpture background, I was really intrigued with taking two-dimensional objects and creating depth,” FitzGibbons said during his opening reception remarks. “You can tell there was a sculptural process behind it. Overall, I thought this piece had very interesting subject matter and aesthetically, I liked it."

The next Juror’s Choice Award was given by Michelle Stitzlein, a Baltimore, Ohio, based artist who creates largescale colorful artworks with recycled materials and found objects. In her remarks at the opening reception, Stitzlein said she was searching for exquisite technique and vibrant personal expression when making her Juror’s Choice Award selection. She said she found these elements in C.R. Houghton’s “Whirlaway.”

“It’s clean, it’s crisp, it’s simple, and it grabs you,” Stitzlein said of Houghton’s piece, which depicts opaque red lines drawn in tangled loops and set against a stark white background. “I don’t think we see too many bold pieces that scale and that fresh. I was really taken with that piece … and I was happy to see it in person because it spoke to me."

Man with a Golden Mustache by Frank OritiThe third Juror’s Choice Award was given by Dr. Louis Zona, executive director of the Butler Institute of American Art, and awarded to Frank Oriti for his piece titled “Man with a Golden Mustache.” Oriti’s hyperrealist portrait features a blue-eyed man staring down the viewer from under the red bill of a baseball cap. The oil-on-panel piece is so incredibly detailed to the point that viewers can pick out individual facial hairs on the subject’s face.

An international-award-winning painter born and raised in Cleveland, Oriti draws inspiration from his time working at a steel mill and often depicts the blue-color workforce of industrial Northeast Ohio in his work. “Man with a Golden Mustache” is one of two pieces Oriti has in the 2019 Biennial Juried Exhibition.  His black-and-white oil-on-panel painting, “King Neto,” was also selected for the show.

The exhibition’s Best of Show Award was given to Cincinnati artist Casey Dressell for her piece, “Light Reappears.” Depicting a playful pastel-hued scene, this painting connects with Dressell’s focus on viewers’ response to changes in their environment and the stories contained in the objects that surround them.

Light Reappears by Casey DressellDiscussing the process of selecting a Best of Show Award winner, Stitzlein said she and FitzGibbons searched for work that had “a voice and … was able to express it.” “Light Reappears,” she said, had this and more.

“It was interesting to see the piece in person because I was surprised that it had so much texture and was complex in its own way,” Stitzlein said in her reception remarks. “In this piece, Casey saw what was beautiful about putting the paint and texture on the piece and was able to step back and left it that way. She didn’t over-primp this up … She left it, and it’s beautiful that way. She has created something special.”

Guests can view these award-winning pieces and more in the 2019 Biennial Juried Exhibition at the OAC Riffe Gallery, on view through Jan. 10, 2020. Visitors will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorite artwork in the show. The pieces that get the most votes each week will be shared on the gallery’s social media accounts until the end of the show.

A schedule of gallery programming including artist talks, an artmaking workshop, and a creative writing workshop are offered in conjunction with the exhibition. Admission to the gallery and all events and programs is free open to the public. Visit for more information.


The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. The Riffe Gallery is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, across from the Statehouse on High Street in Downtown Columbus. Like the Riffe Gallery on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Alexa Demyan, 2018-19 OAC Riffe Gallery Marketing and Exhibitions Fellow
Featured photo: Artists, curators, and Ohio Arts Council staff at the opening reception of the 2019 Biennial Juried Exhibition at the Ohio Arts Council's Riffe Gallery. Photo by Katie Monahan, Communications Strategist.

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