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National art show Menagerie opens Saturday in Washington

They’re from Oregon, California, North Carolina, New York and 33 other states. They’re 3D, watercolors, palette, linographs, prints, charcoal, pastel and print drawings, assemblage and digital. They feature birds, monkeys, deer, horses, fish, sheep, fox — they are a menagerie, of animals and artwork.

Menagerie opens this weekend at Contemporary Art Exchange’s new space, Gallery C, just two doors down from its current East Main Street address. The exhibit is the first of several national shows Contemporary Art Exchange owner Tina Jandrow has planned for the year.

An opening reception will be held Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; this, on the heels of Gallery C’s ribbon cutting ceremony slated for noon on Friday.

REALISM: A small drawing of a horse’s face is proof of the artist’s technical ability.

Jandrow refers to the new space as “sparse” and intends to keep it that way, as the art is the focus. More dedicated classroom space can be found in the back of the building, which Jandrow will use for a regular schedule of classes and offer up to other artists to share their techniques or lead group work times.

Menagerie represents expansion of Contemporary Art Exchange’s space and offerings, and of exposure to art and artists from outside the local arts scene.

“We’ve got artists that are newcomers, and we’ve got artists that have significant experience,” Jandrow said. “We have a lot of pieces that are not what you expect them to be. We really, really worked hard to bring in things people have not seen.”

The array of style, medium and technical detail is as broad as the subjects themselves. Each piece gives a view into the artists’ environment. A heron wading through water and native grass is a familiar eastern North Carolina scene; a deer, standing against a backdrop of an Oregonian forest, is less so.

FISH PARTS: A Menagerie fish has many interesting bits and pieces, including a paint brush tail and forks as fins.

Jandrow culled Menagerie’s 200 finalists from more than 500 submissions from across the nation. Top prize in the show is $1,000 for the Viewer’s Choice award — underwritten by Flatlands Insurance — which Jandrow said widened the field of artists and the quality of artwork submitted.

“I was astounded. I was really, really, pleased,” she said, adding that each work of art is for sale and reasonably priced.

While the Waterfowl Conservation Stamp competition for North Carolina’s duck stamp is held annually in Washington, Jandrow said she believes Menagerie may be the first national show sponsored by a private business in Washington. Plans for seven more national shows are in the works for 2019.

“We look forward to continuing throughout the year, bringing in work that is unique and stimulating and creates conversation,” Jandrow said.

SURROUNDED: A zebra is surrounded by feathered friends on one wall of the Menagerie show.