Subject-object agreement: Students express visual vocabulary

Along with tulips and baseball’s return, the annual Charlottesville/Albemarle High School Art Show is one of the best things about spring. Currently on view in the McGuffey Art Center’s upstairs hall gallery, the exhibit bursts with imaginative work in a wide range of media by teenagers whose fresh approach always surprises.

This year’s show is particularly impressive, although the judges who picked the award winners appear to have opted for in-your-face dramatic pieces and overlooked quieter works that reveal greater attention to detail.

For instance, blue-ribbon winner Hana Sunny’s “Senbazuru,” a wearable bubble-wrap kimono covered in pink, white, red, and black origami cranes, is visually stunning, but a closer look reveals the construction to be somewhat haphazard. In contrast, Hannah Glatt’s “Once Upon a Time” dress, made from antique book pages and carefully crimped and ruffled wax paper, is perhaps less showy but also beautifully conceived and meticulously executed.

Two other subtle pieces that impress with technical skill are Christen Johnson’s pencil drawing, “Old Man,” and Rebecca Galloway’s monoprint, “Cranes.” Johnson deftly uses smudged marks and negative space to convey shadows and highlights in her carefully observed portrait. Although monoprints are notoriously difficult to control, Galloway’s precision with her pigments, choosing key areas to ink in black, gray, and orange, yields a lively and convincing row of birds.

Among the three-dimensional pieces, a standout is Anjali Prakash’s untitled earthenware box. On the lid, Prakash has created several budding flowers, their many interior petals visible though not yet unfolded. Another impressive work is Tiffany Wang’s mixed-media sculpture, “Industrial Evolution,” a whimsical icon composed of an earthenware vulture orbited by two rusted-gear coronas, sitting atop a series of geometric shapes that rest on a folded ribbon of brown-glazed clay.

Among the strongest photographs, Alyssa Smith’s color image of a rugged landscape, which shifts from in-focus rocks and scrubby pine in the foreground to a fog-enshrouded valley in the distance, is a well-composed study of contrasting textures. Jack Buckley’s untitled silver halide print is also notable for its composition. On the right side of the frame, an arm stretches along a wall, leading the eye to the left side, where frothy waves move through the timber framework beneath a boardwalk.

Other highlights include Emily Hays’ and Leah Paschal’s self portraits, Grace Huh’s painting, “Snow Day,” and Jessica Moskaluk’s “Bird.” All the students, though, deserve praise for pushing their limits and opening our eyes.

The Charlottesville/Albemarle High School Art Show is on view through May 1 at the McGuffey Art Center, 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973,