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Pilsen Artist Wins Top Honor at Bridgeport Gallery's Competition

By Casey Cora | January 7, 2013 10:11am | Updated on January 8, 2013 6:31am

BRIDGEPORT — The winner of the Bridgeport Art Gallery’s first-ever art competition realizes the provocative title of his piece is a little in-your-face.

Titled “Together We’re F---ed,” it depicts a giant tin of sardines that’s partly peeled back to reveal the heads of nine sardines, their eyes crossed out with cartoon-like X’s.

“It’s the first title I thought of for the piece. I usually try to make [the title] a little more subtle…but for this piece it seems to fit,” said Joel Fisher, 26, of Pilsen. "I didn't want it to be too morbid. It's a little bit more playful."

Fisher took first prize at the first-ever art competition, held Saturday at the Bridgeport Art Gallery, housed on the fourth floor of the Bridgeport Art Center at 1200 W. 35th St.

The honors earned him a $1,000 cash prize and he’ll get to keep his piece up at the gallery for the month, where it carries at $2,000 price tag.

Why sardines? He said the piece is representative of the art school crowd at Western Michigan University, where he and his pals were lumped together, no matter their individual disciplines or tastes.

“We’re all kind of packaged together in this one class,” he said.

Judges Julian Williams and Thomas McCormick liked what they saw.

“Obviously, the judges selected work that they considered interesting, unusual, skillfully executed, innovative or unique in some special way, “ said gallery curator Lelde Kalmite. “Certainly, the winning entry…exhibits most of these qualities, in addition to possessing the element of humor. It was widely appreciated by many who attended the opening.”

Also taking home cash prizes on Saturday were Kyle Surges for his painting “Unwrapped Miniature,” Jonathan M. Romero for his painting “Kristin,” Marci Rubin for the “Adipose Field" installation and Michael Marx for “Transferred,” a piece comprised of checkbook spines and brass rods that won the competition’s “Most Innovative Use of a Medium” award.

Boyan Marinov earned the evening's Popular Favorite award for "Boundless," a compelling sculpture of a man made of steel chain.

For a first-time experiment, Kalmite said the competition couldn’t have been a better success. More than 200 artists submitted work, with 60 named as finalists.

“Utterly unbelievable,” she said. “It was an amazing event. One of the best openings I’ve ever been to. There were hundreds and hundreds of people. We were very very pleased.”