‘Biggs Shot’ in focus at Dover museum

A.J. Andriance, of Felton, used the technique of  to create this image in  the Biggs Museum of American Art's Biggs Shot exhibit. (Submitted photo)

A.J. Andriance, of Felton, used the technique of Plakatstil to create this image in the Biggs Museum of American Art’s Biggs Shot exhibit. (Submitted photo)

DOVER –– Some of the best photography in the mid-Atlantic region is going on display starting today, Friday, June 3, at the Biggs Museum of American Art as part of the Biggs Shot Photography Exhibition.

Of the 600 works submitted by 160 photographers, the judge, Charles Guerin, executive director of the Biggs, whittled the field down to 90 works by 60 people.

“Judging photography is just like judging any other medium,” Mr. Guerin said. “I look for pieces that are interesting and exciting –– not just the subject matter but the execution as well.”

Mr. Guerin judged all the pieces in a digital format, all labeled by number for an objective decision.

The only requirement for entering the competition was residency in the mid-Atlantic region so the range of photographers, style and subject matter varied greatly.

A.J. Adriance of Felton, a photography student and recent graduate of the Delaware College of Art and Design, was one of the few entrants to use studio shots for the competition.

Gervasio Ruiz Jr., of Milford, has three photos, including this one in the exhibit.

Gervasio Ruiz Jr., of Milford, has three photos, including this one in the exhibit. (Submitted photo)

“I created my own studio for the shot and we were learning about Plakatstil so I decided to try that and really show the interaction of different colors,” he said.

Plakatstil is a poster-style form of art that was popularized in the first half of the 20th century, typically featuring a central topic.

Mr. Adriance’s two submissions look like they could easily be advertisements from the 1950s –– one featuring Marlboro cigarettes and another showing prescription pills.

“I want to eventually go into graphic design so I wanted to experiment with this style,” he said.

But Plakatstil is only a small part of the photography Mr. Adriance works with. He also likes photographing landscapes and finding the interesting in the ordinary.

“I like slowing down and capturing the perfect composition,” he said. “I like to think about it and find the right composition before even getting the camera out.”

Another local entrant, Gervasio Ruiz Jr. of Milford, started his career with studio photography but has since switched gears to focus on scenes outside the studio.

“I used to work on package design in New York for both Revlon and L’Oreal doing a lot of in-house art and photography and didn’t decide to

go into photography as a fine art until later,” he said.

Since retiring from the corporate world, Mr. Ruiz still does photography for local businesses but has more opportunities to follow it on his terms. He now keeps his eyes open for photo ops everywhere he goes.

“I like to look for different textures, patterns and other interesting elements,” he said. “And as I walk around, if I see something interesting, I usually put a mental frame around it and imagine it as a photograph.”

For both men, this is the most prestigious show they have been a part of.

A.J. Adriance, who took this photo, says he likes finding the extraordinary out of the ordinary.

A.J. Adriance, who took this photo, says he likes finding the interesting in the ordinary.

“I’ve done some other local shows, but this is definitely the biggest and most competitive,” Mr. Ruiz said. “I was ecstatic to find out three of my pieces were selected because I’ve seen some of the other entries and there are some really fantastic photos in the exhibit.”

Mr. Adriance has entered student shows and ones at the Delaware State Fair but hasn’t shown at a gallery like the Biggs before.

“I was really excited to be chosen. Hopefully it’s just the start, though,” he said. “I want to keep working on my fine art photography and things like this let me know my art is moving in the right direction.”

The formatting and composition of the individual photos isn’t the only thing that’s important in an exhibit. The same elements are important when collectively organizing the entries.

“When laying out the exhibit, I consider color, shape and texture,” said Biggs curator Ryan Grover. “So in this particular area, I’ve grouped together photos that include arches and sharp angles.”

The 90 photos have been organized on the first floor of the museum and will debut tonight with a reception from 6 to 8.

It is free for members and $10 for non-members. The best in show entry will be announced and the winner will be awarded a $1,500 prize.

The reception will also have food, drinks, live piano music and a presentation of Barbara Warden’s one-woman show, “365: Elements in Time.”

The exhibit will remain on display at the Museum through Sept. 25 at the museum, 406 Federal St.

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