|Sunlight in St. Petersburg|
Mantra as Art is the first of many juried shows to come at the ever evolving Journey Art Gallery on the corner of 4th and McKinley. The limited availability of wall space forced the selection and exhibition of only the best pieces submitted that captured the essence of the proposed theme. This call for art requested pieces which depicted the image, object or words an artist uses to “stay calm, bring peace, to move forward….or to be the best ‘you”, not an easy thing by any means. Why you say? Shouldn’t our inner inspiration be an easy piece to make? Maybe, but to answer a call for art sometimes means not being so literal…the proverbial peace sign or liquor bottle just won’t cut it. The 6 finalists on display depict 5 very different points of view. So where is the consistency? Ooh my, oh my….two blogs in a row and I get to reference my thesis again!! The variation IS the consistency. It speaks to our differences of reference but is consistent in that we artists all draw from an inner something (no pun intended) to keep us sane and focused. Visually speaking, there is a strong repetition of a green-yellow-gold tone found in all the works as well as a sense of roots or a grounding of sorts.
Each work in the show has a statement and brief bio of each artist which is a great idea when space allows, especially with the theme of this show. One needs to understand the artist’s purpose in order to appreciate the imagery completely. Let’s visit each piece for just a moment.
Amy Jackson from Georgia has an acrylic on canvas entitled “Ready to Live, 11”. It is reminiscent of a large graphic flower whose lower petals are still rooted into the earth. Since petals don’t really do that, and the image may not read as a floral motif to you, then her personal journey is very significant. Sorry, not sharing that info so you have to go to the gallery. The core of this graphic piece holds the unifying color mentioned earlier.
Jane Foley-Ferraro of East Aurora, NY displays a monotype entitled “Zen” on the tag and “Zen / Tree series” on the piece itself. A mono-print, meaning a one and only creation via a contact process, is sometimes difficult to predict as far as the outcome of the final image, but she was quite successful with this piece. Her markings that render the light and wispy feel of the branch (my interpretation) are captivating.
Our own Dr. Fredlee Votaw has the largest piece, a mixed media assemblage entitled “3 Graces Protecting and Abused Child” which anchors the show dead center (no pun intended). The stark dark tones and the contrasting golden glow really do give an angelic feel to the overall piece. Obvious religious overtone are present with the nails, the wood, and the glass window affect, but Dr. Votaw is a spiritual man so this speaks true to his soul, his inspiration and his guiding source.
Matthew Derezinski of Missouri has a photograph in the show (our fourth media category if you are counting) entitled “Serenity”. At first glance it appears to be just a golden idol of eastern origin in a tranquil woodland setting or perhaps a garden until one notices the misplaced koi fish. Koi do not fly so then one begins to look a bit more closely and realizes it is not just a picture taken on site, but a site created within the picture. Perhaps his mantra is a mystical land. Has anyone noticed so far that I have steadfastly refused to use the word “muse”? That is because a mantra is not a muse. That difference can be visited at another time, but I don’t want anyone thinking they are one and the same.
Our final artist is Joshua Humm from Canton. According to the posted bio, he must be a young man on his way to a fulfilling career in the visual arts. His two oil on canvas pieces are entitled “Data Deconstruction 002” and “Data Deconstruction 003”. I read his whole thing about technology and how it……well yeah, I tend to get blurry eyed on the technical stuff, but the visual relationship to circuit boards and such makes sense. He finds his inner calm by organizing (visually) the complex concepts of computers and technology and with which I agree, the simpler the better! Relating back to my suggestion about a sense of grounding being present in all the pieces, personally, I felt a different perspective in his works. Call me simple, but I was under the ground, looking up and out at a sky through a screen that had an opening in it. One was round and the other was a cross, but regardless of which, I was inside someplace looking out. Is that not what a mantra sort of does? It comes from within and we let it out?
I look forward to more juried shows and encourage the JAG team to really challenge potential applicants with some specific themes. The number of entries may not be high, but the resulting thought processes and quality of works, will be inspirational to our little corner of Canton.
Also on view are photographic and digital works by Paul Hovan whose inspiration for his solo show is the universal sign language symbol for “I love you”. The Rep did a full story about his show so I won’t be too detailed here. The 7 pieces on view are a wonderful compliment both thematically and visually to the juried show. I did have to ask if the pieces were digital renderings of original paintings done in watercolor and other media, but nope, it is all computer and photography and technical stuff. I am amazed at how someone can do that with a machine! Yeah, my grandparents probably said the same thing when a plane first flew over their house. Oh well……be sure to take the time to look closely at his large works on the west wall and then his more delicate pieces to the east side of the gallery. Do not just read the titles and move on, look intensely, especially at “Intense”. I had a Clockwork Orange moment.
Below is a quote from his bio page… “Paul’s creativity caught the attention of Canton, Ohio’s art community when he won the Mayor’s Young Inventor’s Challenge by creating a lighted chandelier from recycled materials and that lead to a commissioned piece for Art’s in Stark to celebrate Vintage Canton. He gained national notoriety by taking 1st place in the National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s (NTID) Digital Art’s, Film and Animation competition for Photo Illustration. He would go on to earn degrees from NTID at the Rochester Institute of Technology as well as Stark State College.” It is just easier to reprint that so you all can appreciate another one of our local gems.
Bravo Journey on this first juried show and accompanying solo exhibition.