Sunday, May 2, 2010

68th Annual May Show at the North Canton Little Art Gallery

The last words I wrote in my notes as I walked out of the gallery were “soft and decorative” which sums up this year’s exhibition as far as I am concerned. There are no edgy pieces this year which may be a reflection on the venue or the work of the judges themselves. A Google search of their work (no personal websites that I could find on page one) provides a bit of insight as to what they were looking for in the record number of submissions. With an acceptable submissions age of 16, no surprise that lots of people entered. I do have a problem with this age thing however, as the local schools have their own shows several times a year already so it seems a bit redundant to allow them to enter again. I did feel that a few of the works were by students because the images and presentation were right out of my own past lesson plan books. While mentioning presentation, please wipe off the frames after installation. I also saw an entry, which I liked a lot, which had way too much glue showing all over it. Artists need to take pride and care in their presentations at any level of their career.

Shall we go with peeves or positives first? Oh let’s do peeves, those are more fun. Peeve number one is no media listed on the labels. Yes, they are in the program, but that is too much work for the casual viewer. Several pieces would have benefited greatly by having their media listed. Most viewers into this gallery will take one pass and be done with the show so they need all the info right up front so as not to miss some true gems. For example, Nancy Matin’s watercolor and fabric “Sunglasses” piece, which I missed completely the first time past. I recognized the style and marked it for a second pass, but not until I took the time to “look” as opposed to “see”, did I notice the fabric introduced into it. This is an exciting new element to her work and with so many fabulous fabrics out there, the potential is endless. Isabel Zaldivar could have used a media label too. Her work is so unusual in its technique that casual viewers would appreciate it even more knowing what is used to create the subtle layers.

Peeve number two was the advertising card included in the showcase window next to the glass sink. Excuse me but why does he gets to give a phone number regarding custom work and the rest of us don’t? Most artists will do custom work as well. This is a show, not a sales pitch and I found it tacky.

Peeve number three is the use of electronic projection. Do I have proof? No, but I have suspicion. Using a photo or other means of electronic projection to basically draw the image and fill it in is one step away from color by number. Paint that is applied in only one layer, perfectly flat and with no evidence of thought process and/or decision making is somehow disingenuous to me. That same projection process used by an artist who then adds his or her own technique or color choices is better, but the era of Estes photorealism is past.

Peeve number four is that I have seen it before. Style is one thing, I have mine, Russ has his, Ted has one but the pieces are different each time you see us in a show and one can tell them apart. To do the same thing (or submit the same piece) over and over and over…..yawn.

Ready for some goodies? Check out Michelle Mulligan’s exquisite little pear on the easel in a showcase. Even though it is a painting, putting it behind glass on an easel treats it more like the little gem it is. Goodie number two, depending upon how one feels about this, is that established artists appear to be rubbing off on some unknowns and newcomers. Hopefully these up and coming artists will take what they have seen and learned and adapt it to a more personal style over time. It may not be right to copy someone else too closely, but it means that people are paying more attention to the arts. “Lunch with DeKooning” was clever, but I could have sworn that Matisse showed up too, perhaps uninvited.

Dr. V delivered again with his Domestic Violence piece. He consistently shows a deep sensitivity and connection with his message, something that separates and elevates an artist beyond the level of mere craftsman. Randall Slaughter’s pastel is delightful and appropriately framed. Look for the tiny oriental symbol above Frank Dale’s signature in “Hollyhocks”. Good thing it was not hung salon style like some other pieces or I would have missed this detail.

Just a few final wrap up thoughts…..holy heavy hangers Batman, what is up with these oversized decorative frames? Ginormous dust catchers for sure people! Also, don’t trip over that thing sitting in the middle of the floor. I do believe it is a sculpture that won first place. And finally, as I was riding up to Akron to review a couple more shows (coming later this week); I picked my notebook off the floor and wrote these words…..”We remain a town divided. What should bring us together has only pushed us further apart.”


  1. I agree with your thoughts about the oversized frames. More often small frames are just the better solution.

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