On Display October 29 – November 27, 2021

Notification was made on September 28, 2021

Introducing Strokes of Genius

Maryland Federation of Art (MFA) invited all artists residing in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico to enter this 10th annual all-painting competition. All original 2-D work created through any painting media (inc. oil, pastel, acrylic, watercolor, encaustic, etc.) and following entry guidelines was considered. The selected works will be on display at MFA’s Circle Gallery from October 29 to November 27, 2021.

Click this icon to view and print the downloadable prospectus.

Click this icon to view and print the downloadable catalog.

Juror: Barry Nemett, Professor of Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art

Upon receiving his MFA from Yale University, Barry Nemett has taught at Maryland Institute College of Art since 1971, serving as Chair of MICA’s Painting Department for twenty-five years. Nemett also taught in Florence, Italy and at Princeton University. He has exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including the National Academy Museum, NYC; Guilin Museum of Art, China; Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan; Museum of Art: Rochefort-en-Terre, France; Baltimore Museum of Art; and Delaware Museum of Art. Nemett has received grants and residencies to paint in the US, Africa, China, Japan, Italy, Spain, France, Scotland, and Ireland. Nemett authored the college textbook, Images, Objects & Ideas; the novel, Crooked Tracks; many art exhibition catalogue essays; and about 40 art-related articles published in magazines, such as Hyperallergic, Art Critical, Painters on Paintings, and Arts Magazine.

Juror’s Statement

The thematically and stylistically diverse exhibition “Strokes of Genius 2021” includes a portrait of a zebra-striped female; a bathtub and a mutilated deer coupled with a serene cat. It also includes the portrayal of silence and absence in the form of an empty box. And there are noisy, chock-full abstractions.

Like our lives today, the works embrace both sadness and sun.  Sadness: deathly pandemics, social isolation, violent insurrections. Sun — we all make our own.

Some of the paintings in “Strokes” have it both ways. In Thomas McCarthy’s Pandemic Picnic, COVID-masked friends play cards on blankets patterned by the cast shadows of a clear day. A fluidly curvilinear, turbulent seascape created by Theresa Yu is titled Waves of Hate (harmonies, hurricanes, and hatreds). The subject of Deborah Kommalan’s closely observed still life boasts the mismatched title Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, an apt way to characterize our crazed times.

I selected mostly small works in order to include as many as possible from the 423 deserving submissions. Two of the littlest images, John Markowitz’s A Clearing and Source, are, for me, among the show’s most powerful and deepest entries. The impact of these sensual, pitch-perfect, nearly pitch-black mysteries is at once soothing and seething. This is consistent with the conflictual nature of a show that celebrates variety.

It was a treat to view so many quality projects inspired by passion and the joys of tradition and innovation. Across today’s darkness, the works glaze genuine light. And blaze with hope.


  • John Markowitz, A Clearing, oil on linen
  • David Diaz, Capital Morning, oil
  • Marisa Evangelista, Reflection, acrylic on panel
  • Samantha Haring, Gift Wrap, oil on canvas
  • Juliet Drake Hossain, How Fast Must We Go to Stop Time?, acrylic on wood and canvas
  • Charlene Nield, Red Horse Rides Again, acrylic, mixed media on panel
  • Mary D. Ott, Summer Reflections II, oil pastel on etching on unryu Thai blue chiffon paper
  • Edward Michael Charney, Ridge Road, oil on panel
  • Tessa Sutton, Collapse 1, oil on paper
  • Grace Doyle, Matt & Tilly in 2020, oil on linen

*Award contributors and recipients will also be listed in the exhibition catalog.

Information for Accepted Artists

Exhibition Schedule

Exhibition Schedule:

  • Jul 6 Online entry open for submissions
  • Sept 2 Deadline for entries
  • Sept 28 All artists notified by email. Check mdfedart.com or contact MFA if you do not receive notice
  • Oct 20 – 23 Shipped work must arrive at MFA Circle Gallery. Please read the notification email for more on how to ship your piece
  • Oct 29 First day of the exhibition
  • Nov 7 Virtual awards presentation. More info will be posted as we get closer to the date
  • Nov 27 Last day of the exhibition and possible closing reception at MFA Circle Gallery, 5 PM. More info will be posted as we get closer to the date
  • Nov 28 – 29 Pick-up handed-delivered work, 11 AM – 4 PM. A $10 fee for late pickup will be imposed after these dates
  • Dec 1 Shipped work will be sent

NOTE: Should Circle Gallery or any other exhibition space be closed for reasons beyond our control, MFA reserves the right to move a planned physical exhibit to our online gallery. Please mark your calendar for notification. This may include specific information that varies from the prospectus.

Delivery and Shipping


  • All work delivered to the gallery must have the following information affixed to the non-viewing side of the artwork:
    • Artist Name
    • Address, phone number, and email
    • Title of the work, medium, and price. Be specific with medium descriptions (e.g., oil on hardboard or canvas, not oil; chromogenic print or archival inkjet print, not photography or digital print; oil pastel on paper, not pastel; etc.)
  • Work must arrive on scheduled dates.
  • Paintings must be dry.
  • Measure to ensure work meets size limitations before delivery, include outer edges of frames. Work not in compliance will not be exhibited. No exceptions.
  • All shipped work must include a bar-coded shipping label. Do not send by United States Postal Service (USPS). We prefer UPS but accept FedEx. No shipping peanuts allowed.
  • Please affix packing/repacking instructions to OUTSIDE of the shipping box.
  • Tips on shipping can be viewed on the RedDotBlog

Pickup and Storage

Pickup and Storage

  • When the exhibit ends, unless specified otherwise, you may pick up your work no earlier than 3:00 PM on the closing day of the exhibit.
  • Unless previous arrangements have been made, work placed in storage after announced pickup dates will be subject to a fine of $10 per piece, per week. Work left in storage longer than two (2) weeks shall become MFA property and may be disposed of, or used for fundraising purposes. There are no exceptions.



All work will be handled with all possible care, but pieces submitted for the exhibition are at the artist’s risk. In the event of damage or theft, MFA will not be held liable. If insurance is desired, the artist must carry it.



  • All work entered into any exhibition must be for sale unless prior agreements are made, and marked either with a price or POR for Price On Request.
  • Artist members will retain 75% from sales; non-member will retain 70%.
  • The sale of artwork is taxable and all sales tax processing will be handled by MFA.
  • Sold artwork requiring shipment will be handled by MFA with costs collected from the buyer. Buyers will be asked if the work may be retained until the exhibit ends. If the buyer disagrees, the Gallery will let the work go, and the artist will be informed.
  • MFA asks that artists donate 20% from any sale made through a direct referral from MFA within three months. All donations are used to help defray operating costs of the Maryland Federation of Art and are tax-deductible by the artists to the full extent of the law.


All entrants will receive notice by email. The notice to accepted artists will include specific details and could vary from the prospectus. A list of accepted artists and artwork will also be posted on MFA’s website. Please set your email account to recognize this address: notification@mdfedart.org. Contact Circle Gallery if you do not receive notice.