Tangent Lab's Juried Photo Contest will feature the works of more than 50 artists

The annual Juried Photo Contest at Tangent Lab is not only a good way for art enthusiasts to get acquainted with up-and-coming photographers but also a way for those artists to introduce themselves to the art arena, the gallery owner says.

"A lot of these people have never been in a gallery," Brad Ruder said. "I've gotten introduced to a lot of talented individuals I never knew about as a result of doing the juried show. I do notice a lot of them showing at other venues later."

An opening reception will be part of the Final Friday art crawl tonight. The show will feature the works of more than 50 artists, from professional photographers to art students to semi-amateurs. Works will be displayed in categories for digital, film and alternative.

Justin Ochs, an engineering student at Wichita State University, is a first-time exhibitor; several of his metal abstract photos were selected for the show.

"It's always been a good show, with a lot of diversity and so much talent," he said. "I'm just excited to see other artists' works."

Images on display cover a range of styles and subject matters. James Sanny's "Young Days" is a colorful vintage-styled photograph evoking childhood memories. "Hey Dollface" by Amy Frazee features a frayed, freckled doll head, whose lonely eyes peer at the viewer. Steve Coleman's "For the 77th Time" focuses on an exasperated young girl wading through mud in a white dress, making viewers wonder what has taken place so many times before.

Ruder started the show in 2008 in part because he didn't see many opportunities for local photographers to have their work showcased and judged. He wanted a forum where anyone could submit works and have an equal chance to be selected. He enlists a juror each year to judge the selections and award prizes.

This year's juror is Marydorsey Wanless, a fine-art photographer and assistant professor of photography at Washburn University in Topeka. She examined more than 150 entries, choosing about 50 for the show. Another 50 will be displayed digitally. Prizes will be awarded for best of show in each of the three categories.

"I was looking for content and meaning in the photographs, a message for the viewer," Wanless said of her judging process. "I also looked at formal elements like composition, balance and color. Technique and craftsmanship were important in the process."

She marveled at the amount of work that goes into putting on a juried contest.

"It is quite an undertaking," she said. "There is advertising, getting a juror, collecting and organizing the entries, making digital files, notifying the winners, hanging the show, putting on a reception, boxing up and returning the work ..."

Though Final Friday during January is typically chilly, perhaps discouraging some people from venturing out, Ruder said the photo show has always had a good turnout.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," he said. "People always come out, I think, because they're excited to see what's on the edge."

If you go

Tangent Lab's Juried Photo Contest

What: 50 framed images and 50 digital photographs from Wichita-area artists

Where: Tangent Lab in Old Town, inside the Rock Island Market Building at 143 N. Rock Island, third floor

When: Final Friday reception 7-11 p.m. today; artist talk and awards at 9 p.m.

How much: Admission free. Many works for sale. More information at www.tangentlab.com.