Saturday, December 3, 2016

In the Spirit of Peace

Normally I would not post anything too religious or political but I have to share this because it really touched me last night. I attended the Walsh University Celebration of Lessons and Carols, a concert by the Walsh University Chorale and Chamber Singers of which someone special to me is a member of the chamber group. Two hours of music and verse, old standbys and some bring down the house southern gospel. Impressive indeed.

One hymn however was unknown to me and the text was included for the audience to sing along. It was introduced by the conductor, Britt Cooper, as piece he selected on purpose to address the tensions that have faced our country since the election last month. His explanation was longer than that of course but no need to elaborate here. You will understand when you read the words below. Sorry I cannot provide a musical reference as to the tune itself so think of it as poetry and search your hymnals or the internet for further details. Also, if you so desire, substitute “little child” for a deity or symbol of your own faith but I believe the context and intent will remain the same.  Enjoy in the spirit of peace and fellowship.

We Wait the Peaceful Kingdom
(Kathleen Moore / Hal Hopson)

We wait the peaceful kingdom, when wolf and lamb shall lie
In gentleness and friendship without a fear or sigh,
When lion shall be grazing, when snake shall never strike;
A little child shall lead us both strong and weak alike.

Where is the peaceful kingdom? When will this new day start?
We long for peace and comfort to reign within each heart.
Yet not in our lives only, nor simply in our home:
We pray that all creation will one day find shalom.

When wars of desolation and hate come to an end,
When nation meets with nation and calls the other “friend”,
Still in peace in all its fullness will only have begun:
“shalom” for all creation begins with justice done.

That little child shall lead us to walk the chosen way,
To share the peaceful kingdom, to greet God’s newborn day.
The child born in a stable is sent to break our chains,
To bring through word and table the day when justice reigns.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Paradise by the Dashboard….right.

If middle aged women designed this machine it would do something like this…..

The “dashboard” to which one must return constantly when working on some programs would be renamed “Location of Main Topics” Then these menus (were people hungry then they designed this world?) would be called my “things I may need to do under each major topic….like a “to do” list, list”   And before I forget, (we are middle aged here, keep that in mind) but every 30 seconds, a “be sure to SAVE your progress” box would flash right in the center of the screen and not go away until on clicked on it.  (I just saved this…)

The issue of moving the mouse once one has decided to click on the “expand this category and show me the ‘to do’ list arrow, would not go away if one tends to be a bit wavy on mouse control. Our eyesight isn’t what it used to be and the distance from face to screen is too far for reading glasses but not far enough for regular glasses. The screen floats someplace just out of focus but clearly visible. Little mousy arrow/dot doesn’t run a steady course but how many dang times do I have to go back and expand that “to do” list because I veered off course a millimeter or so? (just saved this….)

If this machine were truly smart, it would know that if I have done the SAME THING at least 5 times in row, I am probably going to want to do it at least once more. If I wanted my progress go back 5 steps each time I push save (hang on….needed to save again) then that is what I would be doing on my own, but I’m not. Just keep going in the direction I have been for the last couple of hours. I do not enjoy mousy time going back and forth pulling up (or out or down) my “to do” list  (save) then tiptoeing through the tulips to get back to my same spot, over and over and over…..

A really smart machine would notice if I do something I have not done before, like push a button that does something I do not understand…because my eyesight isn’t what it used to be and my finger slipped. This machine would flash a sign (like the Save sign…hold on, gotta save) that would say “hold up lady, are you sure you want to do that? You hit the C or F or whatever button and this feels unfamiliar….why don’t I fix it for you and if you really wanted to do that maneuver, you can hit it again and we will both know what you intended. Oh, and DO NOT hit save if you have not responded to this message.) Because if you do….in little text will scroll the words….”ah shit, now I have to text my kid at work or his girlfriend at school and ask for help “

I think that options should be offered for that hand symbol with the raised index finger. Sometimes a raised middle finger seems more appropriate.

A great feature would be the ? button. If one were to push the ? symbol about 6 times in a row (because we are irritated), a box would pop up that asks you what’s wrong? You type in your problem and the machine fixes it. It doesn’t TELL you how to do it, it just corrects the issue. Issues like stuff suddenly disappearing. A finger slip again and lots of work all gets sucked up into cyber purgatory. (save).  If that happens, why can’t a little guy carrying sign appear on the bottom of your screen, a sign that says, “it’s okay, everything is right here, all saved, just click in my sign when you need it back, no need to have a panic attack {he’s a little poet too}.

Labels should make sense. Header and Footer? I know, they are grammar terms for page layout, but why is it so hard to say top and bottom? Maybe I want a Lefter and a Righter…why are those not options?

Could we get these machines with two options of operation…and don’t ask me about “operating systems”. Half the time I can’t get the system I think is logical to operate in a method that is systematic. There should be an “efficiency” option and a “conversational” option. Those who like checking boxes and drop down lists would be happy and those of us who feel this machine works FOR me would be happy. Conversational option would pop up questions which we can answer such as “what color would you like the background?” I could type in “light blue would be nice, not too robin’s egg though” and it gives me one. It should give us feedback or affirmations such as “nice choice” to which I can respond “thank you”.  I wonder if I need to get back out with real people more often? (save).  

The Word document I am on now has a little paintbrush up by the scissors, paper and paste images. I think it needs a rock symbol. Come on, rock, paper, scissors would be funny. I understand the use of the scissors to cut, the papers to copy but the paintbrush is a big disappointment. It doesn’t paint anything. It is format related. I want a rock. You click on the rock when really ticked off and want to throw one through the screen. A box would pop up – in conversational option of course – that would first apologize for pissing me off, then ask what it can do to help me. (save) I really want those paper and scissors buttons to move. That would be fun, to have the scissors open and close, the papers shuffle around….how hard would that be?

There are also too many ways to do the same thing. Want to “find” some text, push this button or that one or type in the words or do a hundred other choices. Why not just proofread the document? Remember how we had to actually re-read our papers before turning them in? We made the choices for words and usage and had to check our spelling. We learned from that. This thing tells me that half of what I write is wrong. Good thing James Joyce didn’t write on a computer.

How about little bike flags that appear on documents which get hidden by others as “pages” pile up on the screen, the proverbial messy desk of yore. When a page gets covered by another on the screen, I’d like one of those orange flags on a long stick to sprout out from the top of the page so I know its back there. Of course in middle age world, the flag would be like a post-it note with a word or two on it so I would know which page it is without having to click on it. (save)

I could rant about the “blackboard” which really isn’t or any number of other techno technicalities but I will “save” that for another time. Right now I need to go use my hands and make something, which alas, I will have to photo and upload and all that jazz on this machine. Sometimes it takes longer to do the mechanical part than it does to do the manual part. Thank you for allowing me to vent. (And thank you for all of the Birthday wishes, one big positive aspect of cyberworld is the instant communication between friends and family near and far). 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Judgement Day

Just a few thoughts about this past week….

Would you ask the 911 or suicide prevention hotline person who they voted for, and if not the same as you, would you hang up?

When the AAA guy comes at 6am on a cold snowy winter morning to jump start your car so you can make it to work on time, would it matter who he voted for?

If the hospice nurse holding a loved one’s hand during their final hours on this earth not be of the same party as you, would you tell her to let go?

If the fireman searching for your lost dog in your burning house didn’t agree with your point of view, would you tell him to forget it?

If the guy working the parking deck exit thingy didn’t vote your way, would you be willing to sit in that deck for a long time?

Would you turn down the couple who is spending money on your creation because the sign in their yard didn’t match yours?

If the surgeon about to care for your cancer tumor didn’t vote your way, would you get up from the table?

The leaves will still fall, the earth will still spin, and gravity is still working fine……

Did you offer someone a smile today? Did you say “thank you” to a stranger, did you appreciate the sunshine on your face or appreciate the warm coat you were wearing? Did you thank the deity of your choice that you woke up to live another day?

We are all guilty of something, we are all better than someone else, and worse than many. We are human, we are alive, we are able to love and be loved. We are able to do good deeds for others and make a positive difference in their lives, one simple gesture at a time. We cannot be responsible for how others think or feel, it is not our job. Our job is to be a good person so we can be good to others, one person at a time.  Hold open a door, smile at an elderly person, say thank you to anyone that deserves it and judge only yourself as to whether you did the right thing today or any other day. 

When your life is in someone else’s hands, and someday it will be, who they voted for, will not make a difference at that moment in time. Nor should it ever when the moment has passed. Love thy neighbor….I’ve heard that someplace before….sounds like a plan worth putting into action.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fabrical and Digital, The Art of Karen and Bill Bogdan

Main Showcase Introduction

Wedding Party at Gervasi

Gervasi - Piazza Dining

Inception 1


The North Canton Little Art Gallery is currently showing the work of these two artists until Dec 4th.  Intrigued by their pieces in the Stark County Artists Show at the MassMu (see previous blog), I decided to get a larger offering of their work in a different context.  The Canton Rep wrote a full article (meaning multiple paragraphs in this sound bite age of ours) about this current show as well just a few days ago.

The printed program and list of works available at the NCLAG has several pages about the artists, their process, their relationship and this show as well as many visual examples. Bill likes to write so I was not surprised and it did allow for a deeper connection to the show by knowing all this detail. I would encourage you to read it over once before and once again after viewing the show. I did so and it made me go back and look at some of their pieces again with a different perspective and appreciation.

I do know that putting this show together was more intensive than most. Curator Elizabeth Blakemore worked her magic on the Bogdans to get the right feel for this show. Bill is making a name for himself with his woodcuts (The Chess Player) but there are none here. Instead, we have digitally enhanced oil pastels of a realistic nature, drawings in the true sense of an artist capturing a moment with a tool in his hand, not under it, like a mouse. Karen’s pieces are fabric (and mixed media in some cases) for the most part, textiles, not quilts. For the sake of space and not repeating what has already been written or what is available at the show, I am just going to offer some observations as my notes come together.

The way the show is laid out, with his more “gentle” works placed in-between her more “passionate” creations, gave me a clue to their connection as a couple. I use those two words in quotes because this presentation made me feel he is “there” in that space to say “I’ll keep you calm, I’ll keep you grounded”.  Their 50 years together is documented in the big showcase and the best way to start the gallery walk.

Ladies first so let’s explore Karen’s works. She was an elementary art teacher which means she must know many ways to make things and many historical art figures that kids can relate to such as Henri Rousseau. Her piece “Save the Forest” captures his spirit.  “The City”, a wood sculpture, appears to be channeling Red Grooms. “City Flowers”, a black and white pieces, is reminiscent of the boogie woogie jazz age of NYC.  Perhaps I am leading you to think she has no focus, but quite the opposite is true. She has an keen interest in textures, techniques and experiences….a voice saying “hey, lets try this now” much like an elementary teacher can’t stay in one place too long. I can relate. It gets a bit crazy up in the old brain with too many ideas and not enough room to hold them.

Continuing on, “Inception 1” is a big bang piece of layered fabrics, some transparent, some translucent, to give a feel of gasses in the big abyss of the universe. The work is stretched over deep sided canvas (or so it appears) which is a welcome change to the traditional flat on the wall display method associated with textile arts. In contrast to the delicate nature of “Winter Scene”, I have to talk about “The Carousel” because you can’t escape it. I would imagine that there are quite a few who would wonder “why is that here?”…well let me tell you why I think it is. Created in 1995, the oldest piece in the show by decades, it is an anchor piece. We all have them, the ones that marked a milestone or a change or that we just darn well like and want to share. “The Carousel” is big and bold and brash and loud…..but so is a carousel in real life. They spin, and shine and have loud music and go up and down….this multimedia fiber piece captures that essence, that craziness that makes a merry go round the favorite of many a child.  

Okay, a few words about the gentleman now. As I said, his pieces are surprisingly quiet in nature from what we have come to expect. All recent (2012 – 2016) these 14 framed works are digitally enhanced prints of his own drawings originally in oil pastels. The style is reminiscent of early Van Gogh with the layering of markings, the linear quality and the figures going about daily tasks, most notably in the Gervasi pairing.  All the subject matter and scenes are local.  One however, “Goodrich Smokestacks”, at first felt like I was viewing the World Trade Center Twin Towers by the way he has visually framed the imagery. So too does “Red Ball over Market Street (Akron)” have a minimalist graphic quality, especially if one does not know the reference. Both are strong pieces which work well together.

I would hope that the traffic is good through the gallery to see this show as it has universal appeal and offers much to take in. The only thing missing is a current photo of the couple. It would have been fun to have them pose in the same manner as the photo from long ago and include it in the showcase. Thanks to Karen and Bill Bogdan for sharing their story and their work with all of us. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Stark County Artists Exhibition 2016 at the MassMu

Karen Bogdan "Deep in the Forest" Fabric art and paint

Note* I was going to include more pictures but Artwach beat me to it as we chose many of the same.

Finally got a chance to stop by and see this year’s show. When I walked in, I wrote “wow, color!!”  It is a more colorful presentation than in past years, but rather slim in content and at times felt a bit dated. Full disclosure, I did enter the usual three, but only halfheartedly because I felt it was my duty as a Stark Co artist to do so.  With my retirement from the canvas now in full swing, or at least dormant for the foreseeable future, I just didn’t feel the urge to be a part of the show. It was a joy however to walk the gallery alone and take in the works of some of the best talents in the area.
The judges and I would still be in a fistfight if I had been one of them. I don’t know them, I suppose I could google them, but why. Knowing their preferences or styles would not have changed my opinions, maybe just help answer “what were you thinking???”

My husband is fond of saying “if you can’t make it good, make it bigger” which applies to a few of the pieces, ones that reminded me of foundation level still life set up paintings, basic assignment type of projects. The 3-D category was positively anemic, where are all our craft media artists?  A few works were practically carbon copies of each other in style and technique by different artists and a couple may be oldies but goodies!  However, all that being said, there were some absolute gems to explore so let’s move on with what I discovered.

Spencer Molnar, “Devil in a Blue-Green Dress” (Honorable mention) was the best of the three he has included, hung side by side as well. Enter 3 of the same, hope they take one, good odds. In this case all three got in and yes, they are well done but I would rather see them side by side in a larger solo show, not next to each other, because here the star was tarnished just a bit by her neighbors.

I was fooled by Lee Novotny’s “The Watcher”. From a distance it looked like a photograph with the framing an integral part of the work itself.  Much of this show I enjoyed from a distance which attests to the skill of the artists to deal with depth so successfully. Contrast and scale are essential elements to pull this off. Diane Belfiglio’s “Going Deeper ll” is a prime example. With no contextual references, one can see this underwater subject matter as perhaps celestial or abstracted imagery that grows more powerful the farther you step back. Up close, the blue form appears to be a felted material collaged on, not a drawing, a testament to her skill with oil pastels.

Emily Bartolone’s “Space and Motion”, a work of roll paper, pen and ink, though non-representational, was to me a like looking at a map that had gotten wet, been forgotten, had coffee set on it, and maybe even put into a bottle at some point. I spent quite some time imagining different coastlines and trying to make a reference to a location even though I knew no real one was to be found.

Karen Bogdan’s “Deep in the Forest”, a fiber arts piece, I felt was the better of her two included here. I loved the complex layering of the leaves, capturing sunlight and shadow by the textiles and their placement. The addition of stitching and her use of scale made this one of my favorites, but also because it felt more like a painting than a textile with the framing a big part of that.

Bill Bogdan’s woodcut, “The Chess Player”, should have won something. Perhaps it was too complex in meaning. This larger work is multilayered, not media wise, but mentally. The use of positive and negative space, the “live” man in the light and dressed, the “inactive” man, empty, barefoot and slumped over….dead? Only one piece is missing from the board, a pawn, on the side of the inactive player. The timer is numbered on the light side, empty on the dark…has time run out? The title is singular, not plural. Is this a contemplation of his own mortality? Is the game over or just beginning? So much to see and contemplate and I am sure most visitors will walk right past. Too bad, they will miss something important that art is intended to do, capture our attention and make us think.

“We Will Call Him Snappy” by Nate Forshee has a great title for his off centered portrait of a turtle. This offset placement is a compositional moment of genius, notice how concentric circles and the repetition of circles are formed by the shapes of the animal itself, like raindrops in a pond. Turtles live in ponds.

The mixed media works of Kelly Rae were stunning. I hope to see more of her work and perhaps a solo show.  The atmospheric landscapes are conducive to contemplation and I am glad she gave no reference to a specific location because the viewer can now let their own imagination take them to this “place” with whatever emotion is needed at the time.

Brian Robinson’s talents with soft pastel are beyond words. He needs a big solo show someplace so I can see more. The scale alone is intimidating for “Resting Soil”. One can feel the warmth of the earth in the spot on the field illuminated by a sun we cannot see.  Again, the “from a distance” factor is in full play here, both his pieces are even better when standing back, if that is even possible.

A few final mentions, Tom Wachunas (good thing you didn’t touch that flag, my DAR would kick in); Nanette Ream (you have a future in textile design, the “Fish” was fantastic); Michael Weiss (finally some clever fun in this show, thank you!)

Congrats to all the artists whose work hangs on the walls, putting your soul on display is never easy.
Until next time…..thanks for playing.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Question of the Month… there is no place like home.

Out of respect for those who were victims and/or victimized/vandalized in the closing hours of this past First Friday, there will be no wrap up posting.

Our final Question of the Month answers are below. If anyone is interested in continuing this activity, the chalkboard and easel are yours. Contact us at Journey/Snarky Art before Sept 23.

“If you were to follow your own personal Yellow Brick Road, where would it lead to?”
Actual destination places: Hilton Head – Costa Rica – Bora Bora – Hawaii – Ireland – Jamaica – Paris – Las Vegas – Chicago – Paradise Falls – South America – Cincinnati – Dalles, Oregon.

People: Alex – Lisa – Bronne – Jill Frances – Harambe (the gorilla) – Melissa – Susan – Des – Moe – Cali – Jeffree Star – the Bab - my sister – to a place where I could sit down and talk to my mother…I really miss her!

Actual existing places: home – up north – the pool – the fridge – here – houdini’s – school – Print and Press – the Shire - Hamilton

Odd: chicken paprikash – weenies

Personal Places:  my dreams – happiness – Atlantis – an adventure – hell – Heaven (2)

And with that, 22 Questions have been offered and answered since October 2014. A final “Thank you for playing” to all who came out. Stay tuned for many more blogs to come….God bless.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Conversations with our Collection: Massillon Museum Staff Responds

Margy Vogt

Jamie Woodburn

Alex Coon

Only through Sept 12th, in the side gallery of Cyrus Framing on Cleveland Ave, one will find a wonderful exhibition by the staff of the Massillon Museum. It is an extension of the show at the main museum expanding upon the concept of artists responding to the works of others, in particular, from the permanent collection of the MassMu.  A mounted statement on the wall and a list of the 15 participants and their positions with the museum provides details that I don’t need to list here. You have to go “there” to appreciate the works anyway as my words are only a hint of what awaits.

It has been way to long since I have had the time to blog about our arts but that is changing. Despite the carpal tunnel, the almost broken ribs (did you know dumpsters have steel projections on the sides?) and the mysterious wings of a guardian angel that prevented me from being run over by a car (God is suggesting you buy my work now for future investment because the next time I might not be so lucky), I’m still up and moving (and moving) to find hidden gems for your viewing experience.

Cyrus is open from 10-ish (gotta love honesty) to 6, M –F and Sat 11 – 3.  For the sake of equality and efficiency, we will start inside the door to the right and move counter clockwise around the room with the work of Scot Phillips. Based upon a 1914 photograph of a round house collapse (a round house is where train engines would be turned around, it is not a yurt), his 5 small micro dot screen prints are on found wood pieces. Superimposed doodles, some with dates, act as graffiti such as that found on train cars today, but in different context of style. I enjoy watching how he uses this signature technique in so many different ways over the years.

Next one will encounter two photographs by intern Jamie Woodburn, inspired by the work of American landscape artist Albert Blakelock.  The two pieces are meant to be considered together, one as a larger metaphor for the path we all travel, and another for those small shelters we seek out when the journey gets hard and respite is needed.  Look for the little critter captured on film while on his own slow travels.

Alex Coon shares an audio recording and in assorted jars, collections of things that spark memories of places visited. She has the gift of restraint… a rock or two, a shell, a piece of driftwood, a trait that will serve her well as those munchkins grow and start gathering things of their own. The simplicity of the presentation has a charm reminiscent of earlier times when all one needed was a rock, not a hundred selfies to recall the blessings of family.

Heather Bullach is such a natural talent and well known in the local arts scene so I will only point out my favorite gem this time…how she captured the connection between a young Nell Dorr and herself as  women finding their paths and discovering who they are.  It is a brilliant resolution to the concept.

BZTAT has a painting in the show that is dazzling in its simplicity but complex in its rendering of a balloon man at the circus. The perspective is from the bleachers in the eyes of child and the balloons are not round but elongated, which adds just a bit of whimsy to the image. The compositional bones and use of color placement is as sophisticated as any master work, as making the “simple” work, is often harder than filling space with complex forms. The personal memory shared in her statement will make the connection even more endearing.

Mandy Altimus Pond made me laugh. Stan Baltry is her inspirational superhero, pharmacist by day, photographer by night! Before all the glitz and glamour and green-screens of today’s action figures, men were just as grand and gallant. The depiction of her own super hero (Brian) by way of her signature photographic techniques and historical presentation are charming as they are personal.

Meghan Reed presents us with three brick shaped canvases painted with small brick patterns. They reminded me of those cardboard bricks with brick patterns that my children played with years ago. There is an innocent spirit and message in these three forms….starting small, one piece at a time, we can create great things, as whole cities are built by one brick at a time.

The gem in Emily Vigils work, again a well-known and very talented area artist so I won’t dwell, can be found in her large diptych oil painting. My eye was drawn to the red shoes of the little girl entering into the woods. In this sea of greens and woodland browns, little red riding hood has ditched the cape and gone all “big girl” on us and opted for red shoes. They sparkle like Dorothy’s in this work and leave you wondering about her journey into the future that no one can predict.

Rats, I am hitting my word limit so here is a cheat sheet synopsis:

Michelle Waalkes – the photo transfer of grid over a pathway with unreachable light, creating multiple layers of crosses based upon the old Mass State Hospital for mental patients… on, loved it.

April Olsen – a woodcut of Christ, but oriented on an angle, not the usual vertical, makes the presentation a layer deeper.

Chris Craft – enjoyed how his rendering of the connection between beauty and torture for the sake of others contrasts with the same concept by Heather Bullach. He used mixed media drawing, while she is drawing on her own face. His inspiration is a photo of the permanent wave machine from 1928.

Margy Vogt – smaller digital photography vignettes that capture a rusted train bridge as if an old engine itself and been repurposed as the bridge upon which it once traveled. “Rust Belt” on bands of rust like stacked belts…nailed it.

Demi Edwards, Diane Gibson, Samantha Lechner are also represented in this show but I am at my 1000 word limit so time to cut this off.  Please try and stop in this week or next and view these works by the MassMu family.  Not one red dot when I was there, we need to change that!! Some purchases will benefit the museum fund as designated on their tags. Don’t chide, I plan to put my money where my words are and dot one or two tags unless someone beats me to it.