Sunday, August 28, 2016

Feeling like a TV star…..

1999    #2    Not Going Gracefully

2014   #3   "The little old lady..."
…whose show got cancelled. No, I am not talking about the studio/gallery status, which will be addressed in another post down the road. Right now, I am preparing to bring downtown about 30 of my more “controversial” and “misunderstood” paintings from the now retired (?) Women Series, the one for which I am best known as an artist. The first official painting of the series was done in 1999 when my sons were 6 and 9, and the last (?) was in 2014 (ironically of a grandma in a graduation cap). My boys are are now 23 and 26. 

Somewhere at last count, I think I completed about 150 or so paintings, with a few in storage that may or may not ever get done. My dream for the series was to have it shown in retrospective form, somewhat in chronological order, as the intent of the series was to depict the social, cultural, moral, emotional and physical changes of a woman’s pathway through life. As she ages, as she has kids, interacts with people and circumstances, and so forth. Using visual imagery, color and humor to soften the blow of my statement, some pieces hit the mark and others were just too obscure for the average viewer.

Over the years, I wrote numerous versions of my “artist statement” to try and explain the concept. Some venues got it and hosted a solo show, filling a couple dozen guest books with mostly positive comments. Others could not get past the “comic” nature and felt it was not serious enough for “real” art.  But back to my point…..I wish I could see them all in one big show, the huge party scene of color and expressions that happens when they are all together, even in small groupings.

“I love your work!” Yep, hear that all the time….I do too, that is why I did it. “But not in my house…” Yep, hear that too. My house must be very weird compared to most. “They are so expensive!”  Yep, in this part of the woods that would be true. In major markets, they are cheaper than dirt, which also devalues the product. How to price at market value when the local market does not see, or can support, the value? Catch-22, but somebody already wrote that.

So it is with a bit of sadness that I am letting these more “difficult” children of mine go out on the floor in time for First Friday in hopes that someone will want to adopt one that may be problematic in their living room. And if they can’t find homes, I am happy to bring them back and add to the growing boat load awaiting my Viking funeral.  I wonder if one can get their paintbrushes spade so they stop producing so much?!

I won’t let go of the dream to see them flooding the walls of a venue big enough to house the whole lot, frameless however. Thin little sides with exposed staples cannot compete with the deep sided finished edges I can afford now. Back in the earlier days, the cheaper the better, hence a few warped ones in the lot (like me in many ways). 50 or so have long since been adopted and I have no idea who owns most of them. Sold at shows and I just cashed the checks. Some favorites will never be allowed to leave while the boat is still in dry dock.

Will I ever go back to the series for a second wave? Maybe. There are so many “subjects” waiting to be brought to canvas, but there has to be a purpose when one is my age, to add to something that may not ever go away. I am considering a book. Maybe pick my 100 favorites and add updated commentary to them. A book would not be the same impact as a real life sized in your face presentation but I am not aggressive enough to go after that. I like to plant seeds and hope that something sprouts in somebody else’s garden.

So with all that said, stop by First Friday for a final farewell to Snarky Art …the studio as a destination in the downtown area. My space is FULL of “stuff” from the sidewalk sale including tablets, drawing boards, tempera paint, cigar boxes, glass bottles, sheets of glass, ceramic tile samples, cans of paint for pollocks, frames, props, leftover community art project supplies, the projects themselves, and just lots of junque that needs to go. Cabinets, work table, some shelving…looks like a tornado went through so I apologize in advance for the mess!!!!  And it is a BIG mess, which for an avid merchandizer like me, is a very stressful state of being.

Hoard Couture is not discounted as that is almost done being an official trademark with the US Government! Step one of going to the Cloud is to protect the “brand”.  Most paintings of mine in the signature series and the botanicals are not discounted either but fashion paintings, photography, and misc works are reduced. My last day is Sept 23. So much love and laughter has been shared in that space, so that post is for another day. As always, thanks for playing and see you soon!

PS…I am going to have more time for blogging you lucky readers you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August First Friday Wrap up Report (with comments)

Mother and Child: Forgotten
Creative minds are notoriously “messy” and so are our spaces but I guarantee you if 5mm google eyes were needed for a school project, I got ‘em and I know where they are! That being admitted to, every now and then one must “purge” which has been occupying much of my time, hence this late update.

Usually I get my First Friday wrap up done in a timely manner….but ya know, it is summer time and the liv’n is easy. Either that, or I had to spend time picking up the bottles and cups scattered along the outside of the building (out of dora bounds in many cases….would it kill the city budget to put trash cans at the boundary points?) Said cans would make good visual markers that the end is near and could perhaps include a potty? Seriously, whoever you are, did you have to relieve yourself on my back door? At least a buddy of yours used his Bud cup (not a sanctioned dora mind you….)

No Community Project to write about, too much H of F craziness or so I would have thought. Our attendance was rather low for all the hoopla going on but perhaps with Jeff K not playing and Su N out on the road, the opening act had no headliners to back up the show. But whatever the reasons, our Question of the Month did get 24 responses…..I guess it was too hard this time.

“If Canton were to have its own NFL franchise, what would be a good team name?”
The Canton Basketballs  -  The Canton Ball Bearings  -  The Canton Dora-duhs  -  The Canton Denalies  -  The Canton Bulldogs (2)  -  The Canton Wannabes  -  The Canton Kodiaks  -  The Canton Hall of Famers  -  The Canton Can-dos  -  The Canton Crusaders  -  The Canton Can’t-Reads  -  The Canton Can’t Writes  -  The Canton Thorpes  -  The Canton Bitner Specials  -  The Canton Campaigns  -  The Canton Hoovers  -  The Canton South Akrons  -  The Canton Hams  -  The Canton C’mons  -  The Canton Crime Rates  -  the Canton Canucks  -  The Canton Cats  -  The Canton Can’ts  -  The Canton Vacuums
Hmmm…a bit of a social statement going on here…..I am not one to censor any answers unless they are decidedly inappropriate, but this one disappointed me.  

So everyone gets a do-over for September.  Our question of the month will be “If you could follow your own yellow brick road, where would it lead to….?”

Coming up Saturday Aug 27th 10 – 4 (speaking of purges!) is our sidewalk sale….big bargains on art, art supplies, old community projects, stuff, props, items, things, do-hickeys and thing-a-mug-jigs…..gotta love a good regurgitation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

First Friday Wrap Up Report…..and perhaps that’s a wrap?

We took it to the streets this past July FF 2016 in hopes of reviving our most requested Community Participation Project (CPP) to date, “Rock’n the Pollock” action painting.  The four large pieces that were completed will be seen again, as some type of clothing ala Hoard Couture.  Last year we made about 30 pieces of art for purchase from the canvases created and many of them are sitting in storage so we won’t be doing that again. The displayable works of art we created from past projects dating back to the 2014 Stick Figure Challenge will be included in our sidewalk sale in late August. Be sure to stop and shop for your office, lobby, or meeting rooms.

We will not be offering a Community Participation Project this next FF, Hall of Fame weekend, as there is just so much going on. The focus of FF’s has changed so it is time to take a break and consider how to best use our time, energy and resources to promote our business. Our Question of the Month will remain for now.

Did you happen to stop in and see our new dressing room? It is a scale replica of the TARDIS from the Dr. Who BBC televisions series, built by special request of the Doctor himself. And yes, it really is bigger on the inside! Below are this month’s responses and if you are interested in past answers, we do have laminated copies of all the past questions hanging on the big board for your reading pleasure.

What was your favorite summer break activity as a kid?  81 answers

Studying – water balloon fights – playing in the creek – drive in movies [2]– catching fireflies [3] – 4th of July fireworks – camping – cookouts – riding my bike [2] – playing in the sandbox – swimming [7] – reading – reading and writing – fireworks/parades – sleepovers [2]– hiking with the family – camping with grandparents – sleeping in – yardwork – beach – climbing trees [2] – flashlight tag – Saturday morning cartoons – 6th street pool – Sugarcreek train rides – playing capture the flag after dark – strawberry picking – playing on the tracks – go carts – playing in the dirt – YMCA pool – tansi – smoking weed – skate boarding [2] – riding dirt bikes – ghost in the graveyard [2]– kick the can [2] – hide and seek – sleeping [2] – willow spgs (?) – tag – GI Joes and Transformers – visiting the cousins – playing – street ball CAR! – vacation – vacation in WVA – boating [2] – horseback riding – bike riding – cops & robbers – computer with boo – fishing – Cedar Point – tetherball – being outside – up late and sleeping in – Girl Scout camp – bookmobile – 3 unreadable handwriting – 2 erased for non-family friendly response.

I love this list, so many fond memories of doing many of these things as well. But sorry to note that my own kids did not…..our generation and the current one seem to have overscheduled our children with classes, camps and programs and been too afraid of the boogey man after dark to allow them to roam free and make their own fun. If your kids are young, look over this list and if you need to know how to play ghost in the graveyard or find fun in a creek for hours on end, we will be happy to explain it to you!

Thanks to all who came out to play. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

What do you collect?

That was the Question of the Month at Snarky Art/Journey Studios this past First Friday.  Answers to follow soon. This past Friday also debuted the “DORA” which is the new law that allows people to open carry their alcohol in a designated area. Growing pains will be inevitable and as a business within the footprint, we will have to make some adjustments. As the law is written, no one can come into our place with the cups full of beer but how we can enforce that is going to be interesting. One would think that common sense would prevail and carrying food or beverages into a clothing store would be a no-brainer, but alas…..need I state the obvious?

As the famous movie line goes “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” We are still trying to find our way to effectively communicate to the public that we are not an entertainment venue per say. Yes, on First Fridays we provide an activity so as to draw people down to our end of the block but we aren’t a bar, a restaurant, a public restroom or a lounge to listen to music. We are a retail store that features art and wearables, the majority of which are made by two people.  As time passes and this new rule of open carry becomes the norm, it will be interesting to watch how our fellow retailers handle the issues. I suspect that we won’t have too many problems in Nov – Feb, after all, this is Ohio.

Our Community Participation Project this month was Frisbee Flowers which really had nothing to do with flowers but I had a bunch of mini Frisbees donated to the cause so they came in handy. Over 160 people (final count may be closer to 170) made a paint filled platter by blowing thru a straw. Even with such a simple method, I get the nay-sayers who won’t play because they have “no talent.”  Channel that middle school moment when you shot the straw wrapper across the lunchroom and it will be just fine. Some people are just too cool for school however and find it embarrassing or annoying to be asked to participate and have a bit of fun. It’s okay, we remember who you are…and I’ll get you yet my little pretties!! It is only a matter of time. Next month, weather permitting, we plan to Rock the Pollock on the blocked off Fourth Street outside. What could be more entertaining than drunk people flinging paint? I suggest coming early, we will be doing this one person at a time so a line will be formed, and we will shut it down promptly at 9 or maybe earlier depending upon the circumstances. I am requesting donations of acrylic house paints that you no longer need. Any amount, any color as long as it is acrylic latex (no stains, no oils). Drop off cans at the studio during regular hours only or message me to make an arrangement for delivery. I am not putting the hours here to force you to go to the website, and like us on FB too!

Okay, back to the “What do you collect?” answers…. Total of 73 (some people are also reluctant to write on a chalkboard or pretend to not have seen it….a 16 square foot board right inside my door…. Which is why I have 160+ Frisbees but fewer answers.)

Natural Items: crystals – seashells and sand – shells/rocks/bones – rocks (3) – stones – sea glass (2) – plants – succulents – cat whiskers

Sports: skateboards – baseballs – MLB ballpark memories – ticket stubs

Music and Media: high end audio – records (2) – blue rays – books (2) – music boxes – old music – CDs – movies – comic books – sheet music – instruments

Kitchen and Food: recipes – shot glasses – cast iron – kitchen tools – tacos – candies – turtles/teapots/tins/depression glass

Animals: eagles (2) – panda bears – horses – cats

Things: bottle caps – postcards – snow globes – buttons – bar signs – spoons – little cars – duct tape – trains – Santas – Simpsons – art – shoes – BSA patches – tie dye – panties (late entry by a DORA participant) – one illegible entry

Clever and Creative: smiles – self doubts – wives – joy – men – lovers – dust (2) – unfinished projects – love – too much (2) – pounds – memories (3) – hobbies – family – years – educational debt

Once again, thanks for playing. I appreciate those who have stuck by the blog, or lack thereof, over the past months to almost a year. I hope to get more entries now that both sons are 1) gainfully employed 2) living independently  3) have health care and retirement plans and 4) the best projects I ever made. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May First Friday wrap up and up dates

The Junior Varsity Team worked the Snarky Art and Journey First Friday this past week. Thanks to Andy, Matt, Travis and team captains Meg and Rich.  The place is still standing but we need to start moving merchandise so the whole she-bang doesn’t have to move. We love to be here for you but you need to be here for us a well…..

Our project was an Open Studio for anyone to use the available supplies and create works of art for our clothes pin show. The Team says more than half wanted to take home their projects (who is going to argue with a kid?) but only 3 pins were left unused so the results were great.

Our Question of the Month (in honor of Mother’s Day) was “If your Mom or Grandma worked outside the home, what was her job?” 53 answers are on the board and here they are…….

Greek and Latin teacher – Bible teacher – special needs teacher -  teacher (3) – store clerk – Meyers Lake Park worker – disaster relief worker – medical secretary – church secretary – secretary (5) – auctioneer – CEO – nurse (4) – seamstress (3) – HR manager – HUD manager – dental assistant – butcher – bar keeper – phone operator (2) – appliance sales – social worker (4) – school bus driver – March of Dimes – post office – chef – pharmacy tech – plastics factory – insurance agent – realtor (2) – waitress – florist – nanny – home health care worker – guest services – drug store – clothing designer – and my all-time favorite answer… she wouldn’t have time!

Next month will be our Frisbee Flowers project and our question is “What do you collect?” This is the season of birthdays, weddings, showers, anniversaries, graduations and Father’s day so if you need a unique gift, we have one (or many). With the cicada invasion on its way, we provide a safe haven from the swarm too. Look for our display at Vintage Canton and our one of kind creations in the Hall of Fame Fashion Show!

Thanks again for playing!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

74th Annual May Show – North Canton Little Art Gallery

The Triumph of Craft - detail
With mixed emotions I took a tour of this year’s NCLAG May Show, one of the two “local” competitions that seem to validate the status of artists in Stark County. Without all productive and talented artists in our area participating in these shows however, it is unfair to really assess the value of these exhibitions in that regard. As a showcase opportunity however, this year’s offerings are a wonderful array of nature inspired imagery. One could almost label this a theme show.

Beautifully hung by curator Elizabeth Blakemore, each piece is in harmony with the ones that surround it and nothing overwhelms any particular wall. There are focal points due to contrast and scale, but nothing shouts out over its neighbors….well, except for Russ Hench’s big ummm….rooster painting that screams across the whole library. By far my favorite in the whole show, it did receive an Honorable Mention in the acrylic category. Loud and large and just so much fun to look at, his impressionistic approach using flat brush strokes and the slightly off kilter angle of the fence, truly does bring to life this tipsy rooster walking down a Key West sidewalk.

There are 52 entries in the gallery with 21 of them NFS, which I find an extraordinarily high number. I wonder why? Full disclosure, yes I did enter, no I did not get in as the entry stood. It was a two part entry as one unit. The judges wanted one, not both so it’s a no. Stop by Journey to visit my rejects…a nice perk to having one’s own gallery space. The jurors were a husband and wife team from Ohio’s Polytechnic University (the in-transition U of Akron, my undergrad ala mater) who obviously spent a great deal of time going over each piece and pulling together a very cohesive distribution of works that focus on craftsmanship, technical skill and strong fundamentals. Personally I found it a bit light on message or statement pieces, but there is a good bit of humor mixed in so I’m okay with it.

Michelle Mulligan’s “Art Her-Story” is outstanding. Earning Second Place for 3-D entries, this found object and gourds creation is worth the need to get down on your knees and look at the detail and personalities of the faces. If you know art history, you will recognize the ladies depicted.  Heather Bullach, a truly gifted painter has 2 pieces, neither of which earned and award, but I would have given her one. Her oil on board “The Rising Sun” captures a moment in time through the use of only one, yes one, brushstroke. A single hint of yellow on the side of building in this small landscape is amazing. Her career is just beginning.

Gail Wetherell-Sack’s “Poppin’ Red” is also a fun piece in that her title is layered with meanings as one works through this mixed media Honorable Mention work.  Handmade papers, cut outs, pop-outs, bright colors, lime green frame, patterns, textures etc…I was a kid in a candy store. Her use of the green frame brings up the issue of framing….(eating some crow right now…..) but this year, the frames became part of the works more so than ever before. The idea is growing on me. Without some of the creative framing such as Lee Ann Novotny’s “A Superior View from Paradise”, a delicate colored pencil landscape, the piece may have been overshadowed. Instead, the framing almost functions as a window enhancing the concept of her work. But as framing may givith, it also can taketh away….gold metal frames are as out of date as saddle shoes, time to leave them at home and paint the edges of a deep canvas. Deep canvases being a way to validate that pieces are new.

My carpal tunnel is kicking in so time for this post to close. But I do want to mention the First Place winner in mixed media by Daniel Vaughn entitled “Which Way?”, a 12 x 12 black square that houses and intricate Lego pattern. At first one thinks, yeah, I’ve got bins of those puppies in my basement, but the concept grows on you. I would love to see a whole wall of these squares, like quilt patterns, or a whole room full in patterns and designs that treat the little bricks as strokes of color when laid on their sides. Hmmm…..I feel a dress coming on.

On view through May 31st, make the time to visit this year’s show. Congrats to all!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Image to Image: Photojournalism Students from Walsh University at Studio M

Tyler Dowd "Hole in the Wall"  digital photography 
Once again, Studio M at the Mass Mu is exhibiting the works of students enrolled in Photojournalism at Walsh University. 18 images are on view and well worth the time to stop by. Professor Lee Horrisberger has taught her class well.  In a world were almost everything is “caught on tape”, selfies saturate our servers, and images can be captured instantly on a cell phone, the role of photography as an informational art form is becoming somewhat of a dinosaur. Considering the long and rich history of photographs as our source for emotional connection to situations where words cannot say enough, it is refreshing to see students challenged to keep this tradition alive.

A large statement is posted just inside the door so I will skip the details of the specific assignment. Students were allowed to use “cameras, computers and photographic equipment from Walsh’s Communication Department to imitate the style, lighting and content of a photojournalist of their choosing.” Next to almost every image in the show is an explanation by the student as to why their journalist was selected and how a specific work by this person influenced the image you see. I would recommend that these comments be read in order to put the student photographs into their correct context.  One must keep in mind that these are intended to be emotional pieces that convey a story visually, not just “pictures” of people or things. But this is Snarky Art so I chose to see them also as independent works of “art” because this is a show rich in happenstance and the merits of just good old fashioned fundamentals.

As with any show, there are gems to be found and I will touch upon a few as we progress. Since space (and your attention) are limited, not everyone will get mentioned but all the works were deserving of comment. Several pieces already had red dots on the tags and my visit was the day after the opening!

Working around the room from the statement and going counterclockwise (because I know you print these blogs out and take them with you to follow along…right?) Brook Morgan (Jr) presents “Avery”, a study in crisp contrasts of black and white (on several levels) that captures a moment in time. Inspired by Sally Manns, Ms. Morgan’s subject does not look at the viewer but rather pulls us out of frame to wonder what caused the reaction we see on the child’s face. The child’s emotion is contagious.

Ronnie Stokes (Jr) whose piece is entitled “Zac Carter” is more than a journalistic project, it is also a study in the layering of triangles, whether intentional or not. Three bright “stars” of light forming the first such triangle are the teeth, the earring and the logo on his hat. If one continues to look for smaller and smaller triangles they are easily found. It is this underlying fundamental element (shape) of composition that elevates this piece and gives it bones.

Kaci Bucklew also has a basic element of art (space) which creates a layer of interest most likely unintended, hence the role of happenstance. The figure in “Matthew Lenz” is holding a longboard, the intended subject of the image, but the placement of the figure to the right leaving an empty space on the left, his eyes looking left, and a horizontal tree branch in the background located almost at eye level, all pull the viewer out of frame to wonder what is happening elsewhere. What is the rest of the story? Perhaps other skaters? I believe the board was to be having it’s portrait taken, but the figure holding it in place is far more intriguing.

Tyler Dowd (Jr) has a well written narrative of how he captured his graffiti image which leaves the viewer wanting more of the story when paired with the picture.  “Hole in the Wall” is just the beginning of an interesting journey on the part of the photographer. Whose work did he capture? How did it get there? Why was it done? All these questions are left unanswered…….the picture made me want to search for clues.

Dallas Makowski (Sr) was inspired by Neil Leifer’s image of bowling. Mr. Makowski’s “New School” appears to be a well thought out response to the formal elements of his chosen reference photo but to capture the moment in time of a bowling ball midway between the release and the lone pin at the end of an alley, is not something planned. Perhaps luck played a big role in how this study in contrasts works so effectively, but it does, and photojournalism is sometimes just all about being in the right place at the right time and pushing the shutter button.

Jamie Woodburn (Jr) had that same good karma with her the day she set out to capture sunlight. Inspired by Eliot Porter, one of the first photojournalists to work exclusively in color, her image “Sunlit Forest” reveals more than was perhaps intended. A strong visual piece as it is presented, look a bit more closely and one will see that she was not alone in the woods. Directly below the burst of sun (something that happened suddenly on a cloudy day according to her narrative), two trees form a cross (X marks the spot?) and within the negative space formed by those trees, a “face” can be seen in the shapes and patterns. I found more faces than the one which is most obvious. Yes, the intent was to capture light, but the almost holy intensity of the sunburst itself also gave us life in the forest.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the work of Alejandro Meza (Soph) and his piece “Never Ending Pathway”. As an artist, I was drawn to his overwhelmingly strong use of line as pattern in this image that depicts a man walking in a snowstorm on the edge of the woods. The blurred trees are vertical, the seams of his jacket are horizontal but he is vertical figure as well, and the wind driven snow is diagonal. Add the elements of texture and space and this work is dead on to his source of inspiration, the work of William Eugene Smith whose figure is in a circular composition.

There is more to see in this small but very strong show at the Museum. Good job to all these students who put their work on public display and I encourage the viewers to purchase a rising star or two as the prices are extremely reasonable and well worth your investment in their future.