Thursday, September 17, 2015

Vista Botanica at Gallery 6000

Not very many exhibitions are able to immerse the viewer into the world on the walls. Usually one just passes by the artworks and enjoys the view, offering comments of approval or disapproval. Sometimes even that much effort is asking too much. “Vista Botanica” however, will pull you in to the room and into the energy happening within the works as well as between them.

Not a conventional gallery space, but well suited to be one, is the Kent State Conference Center dining room also known as Gallery 6000. Okay, one has to abbreviate that a bit for the official CV listing, but exhibitors new to the space are always quite impressed. Full disclosure clause, I have five works in the show and have been included in exhibitions here before, so no reviewing of my own work.

Tom Wachunas curated and installed this show which has been garnering well deserved attention for its impact and quality of work. Regular diners and visitors to the Conference Center have let it be known this is probably their favorite show to date and it has been at least 5 years or more of installations. Why the good vibes? Because of the bold colors, pleasing subject matter, and variety of styles, media and scale that all work as one big hug of nature. United under the concept of botanically inspired imagery, artists and pieces were chosen to make a vista emerge on the three walls that surround the diners. A real vista inhabits the fourth all glass wall. So come into the garden with me and explore the works of my four fellow exhibitors.

Photographer Carolyn Jacob is familiar to many in the area who have been to 2nd April Galerie. She has a great space on the second floor. All four of her pieces use different methods and presentations within the genre of digital photography. “Red Maple Trio” is a luscious moment of sunlight captured on three graceful leaves. The eye of the artist then uses contrast and composition to add that regal touch which elevates the subject from being just leaves to structures of almost glass-like fragility.  “Floralique” fooled many of us as we thought it was rendered in colored pencil, the surfaces were that luminous and delicate, but again, the relationship between artist and camera worked their magic.

Eleanor Kuder, a name not familiar to me until now, is someone to watch for in the local arts scene. Her four mixed media pieces, large works in large white frames, both rich and deep in markings, show a true understanding of composition and the principles of design. Layering of bold shapes and colors overlaid with linear markings and the highlighting of one area over another, create depth usually not found in the typical mixed media category. Kuder is able to capture the dimension and organic qualities of plants without the overly annoying aspects of collage that sometimes reduce works to the amateur level. Her ability to integrate the media and as I stated, grasp with firm understanding the science behind composition, will draw the viewer into her vision of the natural world. “Watershed” is by far one of the highlights of the whole show.

The charcoal drawings of Ron Watson may at first sound like an odd choice to include in a show that vibrates with reds and oranges and greens, but his renderings of local landscapes are not to be missed. The lack of “color” is what allows these pieces to punctuate the overall exhibition. “Near East Liverpool in Winter” could be considered a master work of capturing light and atmospheric conditions with limited materials. The crisp water and stark branches against what I consider a “Magritte” sky will force one to stand and explore this location for quite some time. These are not your smuggy type charcoal drawings that many expect when hearing the media. Vine charcoal is a different animal and allows for a layering of fine marking achievable only by those artists who really know how to draw in the classical way by hand. For “delicate” pieces to hold their own in this room speaks to the power they have in what again is a superb understanding of the elements and principles that comprise our language of art.

The large oil paintings of Margo Miller are the perfect choice to anchor the show. Her scale of markings and layer upon layer of blues and greens frame areas of reds and oranges that manage to escape and entwine with the plant life depicted. An interesting dynamic takes place with how her pieces are located at the end of each wall. Each artist included has a level of abstraction that is different from each other so when placed next to one other, the images create a sense of growing…or emerging and changing….or blooming and morphing….. Whether by intent or by happenstance, this visual phenomenon enhances the concept of botanical art and the definition of vista. Difficult to explain in words, one needs to witness this occurrence. The tall and vibrant canvases of Margo Miller are physical paintings in that the hand of the artist are on full display. No tiny delicate markings, no hesitation of deciding whether an edge needs highlighting, she enters into her environments with confidence as if trying to unearth the location from the canvas itself.

My pieces are from the cactus and stained glass series that has captured my imagination for this past painting season and will continue when the next session starts. You can see them on my website or at the Snarky Art studio.

The show runs through October 30th. The building is open to the public if you wish to stop in and see this show which I sincerely encourage you to do, especially to see works by artists unfamiliar to many. Avoid the lunch hour time frame of 11 – 1 and it should be no trouble wandering back to the Gallery 6000 (dining room) location.  If you know where the H of F balloon launch takes place, you know where the Conference Center can be found.  (Notice how I got football tied to art?) HA! Score one for me…..okay, time to quit. Game over.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Labor We Must

A little late on my First Friday Community Participation Project wrap up (notice the use of capital letters to make it that much more impressive) and our Question of the Month answers. As usual, just a few words about the evening itself to start us off. The theme for our west coast location was “Secrets Revealed” to tie in with the grand opening (of the door) to the re-purposing and reincarnation of the former Journey Classroom into the Journey Two Boutique.  Two as in T-W-O for textiles, wearables and one of kinds, is a work (or space) in progress. Starting small to measure response and building upon plans in place as support allows, this venture fills a void in the existing fashion scene of Stark Co.

More on that topic at a later time. This month’s CCP (now reduced to mere letters since it is now a commonly recognized activity) was part two of the two part “Keeping Secrets – Secrets Revealed” project. The August FF was well attended compared to September’s FF but granted there were just too many events from which to choose: Stark Co Fair, Cleveland Air Show, HS Football, Theater opening, Holiday weekend travel… is a wonder anybody came down at all!  By my count though, we had 123 people who wanted to play and 84 that left their “question” mark.  Once again, human behavior was on the front burner.  The simple medicine bottle with its childproof protection cap proved frustrating for many until the secret of how to open it was revealed…a bonus revelation for the project concept!

Inside were the secrets recorded last month, the answers to one of 8 possible questions contained in each bottle. The question were:

Before I die I want to _______________.
I am terrified of____________________.
People think I am really __________ but I am not.
My secret indulgence is__________.
My greatest fear is someone finding out I ___________________.
I have always wanted to _____________________.
I have never heard my parents say __________________.
It can never happen, but I wish I could___________________. 

I was amazed to find all but three were clean enough to share and 90% were truly touching and heart felt. All 160 have been posted and can be seen on the Snarky Art door from the Boutique.

The undoing of the project however was asking people to make connections. Using the five colored squares inside, matching one or two colors together and keeping the pieces straight proved to be more difficult than I anticipated.  Imagine a Massillon McKinley match-up between the OCD's and the c’est la vie’s.  Needless to say, in this case, the process was more fun than the final product but sometimes how we make art is more important than what is actually made.

On to the Question of the Month: (Labor Day inspired) As long as you had to work, what do you think would be the perfect job?  For ease of tabulation, I have organized the answers by alphabetical letter (not order mind you so don’t get all spelling queen bee on me)

A – actor, animal rescue, advice columnist, arts brain-stormer, advertising director, already have the perfect job (oh yeah? So what is it?)
B – beachcomber, bookseller, boutique owner, Broadway dancer, book reviewer, band manager, baby holder in the NICU, bird calling
C – care for baby animals in the zoo, craftaholic
D/E – dreamer, dancer, designer, doula, dance choreographer (some of you should get together and start a business), event planner
F – FBI agent, food critic, furrier, fire fighter, film director
G – gardener, great person (so what are you now?), gigolo, graphic designer, gospel singer
H – helping people, housewife, hole digger, horse trainer, helicopter pilot
I/J – jewelry designer, interior designer, ice cream taste tester, international journalist/photographer, jockey (I corrected your spelling from jokey which I hope was what you meant)
K/L - (nothing!)
M/N – middle school counselor, musician (5 votes!) military nurse, musher
O/P – opera singer, pianist (2), playwright, pilot, pole dancer, pro football team owner
Q/R – retiree (that is not a job), reporter, R and D at Malone
S – spy, spy kid, stand up, SNL star, student of the world, singer (2), security guard at a nude beach
T – teacher, travel tester, travel agent, tea master (2), translator at home, Terri Gross replacement (?)
U/V/W/X/Y/Z- vacation planner, wine taster (2), writer, winery owner, wine maker (you could work for the other guy and two taste testers are ready to go too!), WNBA basketball player, volunteer work, you-tuber.

Pretty impressive. I will close this with a word to those who support what we do (and are trying to do) every day and every month on our little corner of the CAD…thank you! But remember, “little” is used a lot, as in the Little Engine that Could and the Little Red Hen. If we all do a little, we can make big things happen but if we think things will happen because we think they should or just because we want them too, could result in nobody getting anything. If confused, dig up that old folk tale (okay, wiki it if you must.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shameless Self Promotion

Samples of products now available online. Su Nimon and I are both on Fine Art America.
Recently chastised for not writing more often, I have to admit that I do miss it. My excuse? I have not been anyplace to review because I have been working behind the scenes on multiple projects.  Granted there have been some recent events that inspired me to blast off a few lines but my mandatory waiting period to cool off before posting had me hit the delete button. My husband’s current favorite saying ringing in my ears….”not my circus, not my monkeys”.

The title of this blog should give you a clue as to its content. If interested in what I do, keep reading. If you have better things to do, we will catch up after a review of the upcoming Akron Arts Prize opening.

Behind the scenes project one (and in no particular order) has been the creation and installation of my piece for the Akron Arts Prize competition. This is a multi venue exhibition of pieces voted upon by the public via an app that records 5 votes per person, each vote for a different piece. The voter must be within the footprint of the venues for a vote to register. One does not however have to be in the location of the work itself, so going to lunch in a nearby restaurant and voting works just fine. Advantage to winning goes to artists who have friends in Akron. Out of area artists have to encourage imports to make the drive up (or down) so they can vote. Good luck with that.  My work, the “Daily Doodle Diary Dress” is at a new gallery called Ro3 or Rule of Thirds on the second floor of the building across from Summit Arts Space.  If you don’t see this piece in Akron, if I am juried in, you will see it locally come November. But go to Akron starting Saturday (their art walk) on a Thurs –Sat 5 – 10 pm until the first Sat in October and vote. Google the Akron Arts Prize for more detailed info on this whole process.

A second time consuming project is now over, the BSA Float for the H of F Grand Parade. Six grand prize awards in a row has been wonderful for a team of dedicated people. We figured about 650+ volunteer hours went into this one. Except for a temperamental bubble machine, all went well. Nobody fell off, nothing broke down and the boys had a blast despite their initial reluctance to participate. Try telling a young man he has to push a 10 foot canoe along a 30 foot channel for over an hour, using wooded blocks and a makeshift “paddle” while smiling for the camera…oh, and he was from Brazil so the language barrier to explain all this worked in my favor. Not sure if we will return next year, but thanks to all who cheered us on!

Project three has been helping Su N to re-purpose the Journey Classroom. What fun! My roots (not the gray ones thank you very much) but my professional ones were called upon to assist in the transformation. Not my place to tell what happened in there, but come First Friday, you all can stop by and see for yourself. The result of one of those conversations where someone says  “what if?” and the other says “why not?”  followed by “where would and how could?”  met with “right here and with help” so we did. So many new possibilities have opened up now….damn it. A brain already overflowing with ideas now has to go rent space in an imaginary storage locker. 

Project four….joining the 21st century of online shopping. Sad in a way, because I realize how much of my own work is lost forever because we did not have the technology to record it at the time. High resolution as I am learning is not what our old cameras were able to do. Slides are just junk now. Kodak prints are faded and transparencies are worthless. Basically the first 20 to 25 years of my own work will exist only in some uploaded digital files that are not really salvageable for any sort of production purposes. Multiple transfers between computers, outdated technology and corruption of files have left my legacy in the limbo of cyber space someplace. Sort of like the one guy on Star Trek who never fully beamed back to the transporter room… just sort of all glittery in a lost dimension of time and space. However….some of my things are usable, so I have joined one of those online sites where you can purchase my images as things! Yes, I could walk into a bathroom someday and see my art on a shower curtain! Maybe my work will be on somebody’s tote-bag ( I promise not to accost you on the street and offer to sign it), or a phone case, or my favorite, the pillow!  I am being serious here, I think this is pretty cool…just because everybody has been doing it for years….this old dog has learned a new trick. So go to and check it out. I am trying to add new images every so often to get started. If you have a personal favorite from years past (the “Women” series is retired now ) I may be able to dig up a usable image for a one time production of a greeting card or small print.

Hmmmm… I suppose I could go on about some other projects going on, but now is not the time. Many thanks to Jamie W for helping translate the language of technology  not only for me, but also to set up the online shopping program at Journey Art Gallery. Now we can all sit around in our pajamas and buy art! Christmas is only a few months away so ho ho ho, it is time to go (to the internet!)

PS: First Friday is almost here and we have 160 medicine bottles filled with secrets and pieces of a larger puzzle. Stop by and claim one to be a part of the art and leave your mark!