It may be because content restrictions made more imaginative artists decline the opportunity to submit. Or it may be something else. Whatever the cause or causes, the First Annual Visual Arts Competition of the Columbia Festival of the Arts (through June 22) has turned out to be tame, ultra-conservative and thoroughly boring.
It is not about issues, it is not about imagination, it is not about creativity, and it is certainly not about anything contemporary. It is about technical ability and safe, old-fashioned, tiresomely familiar subject matter: boats at the water's edge, animals, still life, flowers, here and there a person.
None of this subject matter need be dull. It has been the stuff of good art for centuries. But these works, with few exceptions, aspire to little more than faithful reproduction of the object, without resonance, without mood, without much more than competence.