Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Stark County Artists Exhibition 2017 - MassMu

Not what I wanted to show, but my mail is constipated and won't download images from the show at the Museum itself...so in the meantime, enjoy "Circus Cactus"! 
Well yes….it has been a very long time since I have written any blogs or reviews. The reasons why are formulating in my mind so as to make them coherent enough for a blog of their own.  Very awkward that this review should be posted after such a hiatus since the show in question has my entry selected as Best in Show. Now that that elephant has been duly placed on the sofa, let’s move on…..

Stark County Artists Exhibition 2017 at the Massillon Museum

The opening was well attended for a new afternoon time slot. For those attending other evening events, it was a welcome change. Quick exits were needed for some of us that had places to be so I went back on Tuesday to enjoy the show in solitude.  55 works (well-spaced to avoid overcrowding but I missed the use of the ramp walls), 40 artists (I still abide by the no more than 2 per artist limit) with 189 pieces having been submitted for jury. Theme color this year: orangey reds.   Chosen by 3 jurors whose selections appear to be more cohesive than in past shows, they must have agreed for the most part, as the final cut is not strained thereby avoiding obviously fought over klunkers.  The wall color chosen for the show is stunning. The deep hue is very complimentary to most all of the works.  Oh Judi (not Judith) what color is it? I’d say a saturated blue grey with just a whisper of eggplant.

For the sake of staying concise and within a reasonable reading time, I have picked out pieces that immediately brought words mind. Whether I got what the artist wanted to say probably doesn’t apply to some of these observations but I was going with the gut reaction, maybe like a “regular viewer”, and not someone who is supposed to know better.  One shall also do this alphabetically….thank you program doubling as notepaper.

Oh before I start, I would have made one itsy bitsy teeny weenie switch of two pieces…. Heather Bullach’s “Jamie” belongs over Circus Cactus and the Zotta “PokeMatryoshka” belongs under the Strader drawing. “Jamie” felt rather shmushed under there and her colors not appreciated. (Spell check hated this section!)

William Bogdan’s woodcut “Man, Bed, Cat”….I love me some cats! The placement of the two figures, a sleeping man and a sprawling cat, leave one to wonder who is on the bed and who is on the floor? The expanse of green real estate leaves me to believe that the creature unable to open a can did indeed win this round. I have come to accept the imperfect presentation of his works, they reflect the artist and his methods as we are all nicked and marked in one way or another.

Heather Bullach and “Embers”. This is visual poetry folks. If you want to understand classical composition in a simple form, note the following….the purple tones are equally divided between the top and the bottom of the image, but one element (the sky) is far larger in use of space. Enjoy this a moment then look at it upside down (yes, you have to lean way over.) Now you will see the same setting sunlight reflected on the surface of a pond or lake. Land still functioning as land but completely relocated. Fascinating!

A David Dingwell photograph entitled “Confluence in Miniature”.  As a former subscriber to the Nutshell News during my dollhouse days, this was truly interesting to study. I know it is done by computer and all, but it just made me want to see a Godzilla rising up out of the river and crushing all those bridges!

“Peace on Earth” by Susan Eitelman is truly lovely. Not a great art word to use, but this felted piece of wool and silk worm cocoons (okay you win for best use of an unusual material) also wins the award for irony of image….sheep depicted in wool.  It is just a gem of color, scale and content of what could have been a boring picture in any other media. The textures are so well chose for each form rendered.

Allison Smith with “Split Complementary Progression” is a hand dyed, hand woven (really? No wonder I got a C in weaving…that stuff is hard!) creation using linen and hemp yarns. At first one is put off by the wavy parts because it feels off next to the very flat sections but then one realizes they are standing way too close. To appreciate the changes of color and the reason for the shapes, you need to be back about 5 feet. Then you notice how those wavy parts are contained and restricted by the sturdier forms (complimentary textures), how the colors flow past one another to change sides, and then continue right off the bottom of this piece like wet paint dripping down.

Brien Strancar and his Honorable Mention “Dipped and Cut, RGB series No. 1” and “American Spirits”.  Love it, dead American icons (hence spirits) on bottles that once held liquors (or spirits). I kept looking for that one little kiss of contemporary comedy, but that is just me, like a shark fin along the boat or maybe a snorkel but that is how my mind works…. Great job on the engraving though. The second piece (which got the HM) took me in an all political direction. Again, I am going with the gut, but I saw an elephant which took me to Trump which made me associate the green with envy, the red with blood and the blue with icy veins and I got all caught up in a political statement. And it is politics which brings me to the piece that I am probably going to butcher in interpretation but my context is current events…..

“After the Sermon” by Tom Wachunas.  Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker may not be current, but the whole issue going on now with politicians, media moguls, people in power positions having severe cases of Happy Hands just seemed to come together in this title and rendering. The Bakkers were televangelists (religious), she had iconic eyelashes that ran mascara like Niagara Falls (feathers) and the hand prints are evidence of past transgressions in today’s cultural climate. It may be a piece in black and white, but the story behind ones actions is never that way. Do we embrace our sinners or cut them loose, are they deflated and faceless once exposed, or do we hold them close to keep watch? Who knows, he has provided us a lot to think about in this piece.

And I am at the limit of my word count. Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts on this show. Please go and see it before Jan. 31st.  Congrats to all of my fellow winners and artists who continue to put their souls on display. If I did not call your name, you are through to the next round.

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