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Chinese-born art critic and author Lilly Wei (Image by Grace Roselli)
July 12th, 2019

Critic Lilly Wei picks winners from ON THE ROCKS

We’re coming to the halfway point of ON THE ROCKS! It’s been such an enjoyable show and gallery visitors are impressed by the breadth of genres and how each artist handled the theme. To celebrate the show, SEFA invited Lilly Wei to choose three winners and three honorable mentions. See her selections below.
On Friday, July 12, critic Lilly Wei stopped by the gallery to see the work and make her selections. She spent about 2 hours sitting with the art and walked through several times. After careful consideration, she made her choices. Read about her selection process below.
Honorable mentions:
James Isherwood, The Perception of Monuments (2019), Acrylic on wood panel, 24″ x 36″ x 1.5″

I confess that it was difficult for me to choose only three winners and just as difficult to choose only three honorable mentions, even though these kinds of selections are something I do quite often, the choices at times determined by the slightest of differences and are, of course, subjective even if, I hope, informed.

While there were multiple reasons for my selections, what was foremost in my mind was how the work I was looking at evoked landscape, in particular mountainous terrain. I asked myself, among other questions, did it make me pause in front of it?  How innovative or idiosyncratic was it? How specific, how individualized was the “voice?” How was the image formally and conceptually constructed or deconstructed? Did it make me notice something I hadn’t before?

From that, I came up with these six works listed at the top. I congratulate James Isherwood, Melanie Kozol, Travis Childers, Seongmin Ahn, Jeffrey Rothstein and Kate Snow on their remarkable achievements.

I also congratulate all the participating artists of On the Rocks. It was a rich, commendably selected grouping, enhanced by Susan Eley’s sensitive installation. The interaction that took place between the works was absorbing, the show a pleasure to see and think about.

— Lilly Wei


Lilly Wei (b. Chengdu, China) is a New York-based independent curator, writer, journalist and critic whose area of interest is global contemporary art and, in particular, emerging art and artists. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications worldwide and she is a longtime contributor to Art in America, a contributing editor at ARTnews, and a former contributing editor at Art Asia Pacific in the United States. The author of numerous catalogues and monographs, she has curated exhibitions in the United States, Europe and Asia. Wei lectures frequently on critical and curatorial practices and sits on the board of several not-for-profit art organizations. She has an MA in art history from Columbia University, New York.