The thing that makes a piece of art stand out for me is when it seems attainable. I don't mean fiscally obtainable. Just, something that I can relate to, and think, "if I were an artist, that's how/what I would want to paint."
Martha Rich makes me feel excited and inspired. I like her a whole lot. Her work is simple, not straining for effect. She paints images from catalogs and magazine ads, and lobsters and ice cream. It's playful and funny, but it has a weight about it that makes it significant. Lots of straight forward commentary on female self image, beauty, and worth, but in the style of Meandering Mike or West African Barber Shop signs, and with chocolate cake and silly sayings.
See more on her site. And at her blog. Also on the Beck video "Girl". And also, the blog "Beauty Road Trip" which is a collaboration with another one of my favorite contemporary female artists, Esther Pearl Watson.