Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rhythm and Obsession at the North Canton Little Art Gallery


Russ Hench and Judi Longacre have combined their art for presentation within the same space. Though not a literal or physical connection, their pieces are perfectly suited in both spirit and element with pieces of Judi’s wearable art/jewelry seeming to have escaped the showcases and taken up refuge on Russ’s canvases.

Several red dots are present on the labels for Judi’s work. While in the gallery I also was the first to learn that the Little Art Gallery had purchased one of Russ’s pieces, “Row Boats to Heaven” for its permanent collection.  It is heartening to see that art is not just for looking at anymore.

I remember the first piece of art I ever saw by Russ Hench. It was at the CMA in a Canton Artists League show and I fell in love with it at least 12 or more years ago. I know he would go far with his work, it just sang true then as it does now. Only two pieces in this show pay homage to his early days and techniques (as far as I know about his career anyway), the metal repoussage works in the showcase that are reminiscent of Don Drumm’s stylized suns.  One of my two absolute favorites is in the other showcase, “Stranger at the Block Party”. It took me a while to realize what he meant by the title because I was enchanted with all the different sizes, shapes and textures of the squares, layer upon layer upon layer. When I used to teach art and wrote various curriculums for art programs, I only taught 5 things, over and over and over because they are the only elements needed: line, shape, color, texture and space. Russ captures all of these as well in each and every one of his pieces. This show would be an excellent place to take young artists to see the basics in action. Okay, why I missed the one golden ball almost dead center, the stranger at the party, is because reflected in the bulb was a perfect black square created by the reflection of the doorway of the gallery itself, a happy accident of circumstance for sure.
 My second favorite is Autumn Sapphire which is rich and luscious and creates many layers of visual space. I wrote the word “sophisticated” in my notebook as I could see this piece on the walls of some estate in Elle D├ęcor. If one sits on the central bench within the gallery, it becomes obvious that his pieces share a common bone structure of a weighty focal point and subsequent chutes and ladders of additive elements. His statement says that the titles are not to imply any type of storyline but because people like to have a point of reference, it is natural to create one. Personally, I prefer the pieces with no photographic elements because the flatness and reality of those surfaces cannot match the quality of his manipulated imagery.

I do want to mention the watercolor reproductions that are interspersed with his larger creations. Two of them really captured my attention, “Door Knob” and “Reel Mowers”. It is great to see that he has the natural talent to draw and paint in complete realism, but that it does not limit him or bind him in his creative process.

Not to be left out, the wearable art jewelry creations of Judi Longacre (J*U*D* I as in individual if you are listening out there!!! :-)). She collects and reworks antique, vintage and previously owned jewelry, buttons and other time worn trinkets.  I admire those who wish to honor things that represent moments in time and memories past.  Just recently I saw a bridal bouquet made from vintage and antique floral jewelry pieces.  As many of us approach the time when we must break up homes and dispense of family heirlooms, how wonderful it would be to pass along a bracelet or broach made from Grandmas’ favorites. I am sure Judi would accept the challenge to take someone’s treasures and create a one of a kind work of art.

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