Friday, June 25, 2010

Downtown Developments

Today was the last day of set up and now Snarky Art….the Studio is officially complete and open for business! More about that another time however as I want to get one last review in before heading off to the land of sweaty scouts and sumptuous Sysco. Unfortunately, I was unable to view the show due to the gallery space not being open (Lynda Tuttle’s Art Center) so “Marge’s Imagery, the fiber works of Marge May “will have to wait. It is there until August 30 so I will get to it in time.

My husband and I walked over to the 6th Street location after a wonderful lunch in a packed Iris Restaurant. On a Friday afternoon, it was great to see so many people doing the same (eating at Iris). I have known Angus and Sarah a long time and look forward to being their new neighbor. My beef however (not the lunch kind, I had the crab and clam soup) is that the gallery did not have any hours posted on the door or where I could easily find them. Lots of interesting items were viewable through the glass before the space got too dark but if I were an out-of-towner, I would not know when to come back. As a business, we owe it to our buying public to know when they can come see us. Everybody is busy, including owners, but it just makes common sense to keep some type of regular hours for people to stop by and around which to plan their leisure time to see art. Galleries and studios are not “destination spots” most of the time unless a special event is being held. Hours need to be posted on websites and in any publications that list the venue in question. Her space has so many wonderful things happening and should be a regular “stop” on the arts district circuit when the yellow gallery signs are out on the sidewalks, especially in the summer months when people are out and about on their lunch hour. Just his past week, I have encountered several leisure time groups of shoppers (spending money not withstanding) who were downtown having a look around. I have seen some of Marge May’s pieces and feel she is not getting the exposure due to her.

Passing several vacant properties, I came up with a couple of ideas that could perhaps take advantage of these empty spaces and add to our growing district. First idea is for the empty corner storefront near Anderson Creative. Now mind you, I am a better Captain Picard than a first officer. He just got to come up with great plans and tell his right hand guy to “make it so”. I can envision that space as a gallery that rotates in the following manner. Each month one high school or school district in Stark County gets to use the space to stage an exhibit or whatever other concepts that they have originating from their art departments. The public cannot go into a school and see art very easily (nor do people go to other districts to do so even during a special event as districts are territorial) but the schools can bring art to the general public. Like Jackson’s recent AP art portfolio show, why not a show from Perry, Hoover, Minerva etc… , not just the works judged into Scholastics each year, but work that is reflective of the whole program. MassMu had that show such as that which I viewed a few months ago, and it was wonderful and refreshing. Let the youth become an active part of the district. Schools could be given a month by lottery system each year (minus the month chosen the year before to keep it fair) and the space is theirs to do whatever. Considering how competitive the districts are with sporting events, let’s see how well the” game on” to outdo the school who came before, let creativity take the field for once. Toss in Montessori, Central Catholic and the nearby colleges and universities and that empty corner could get a refreshing turn around on a continuous basis. How it is funded is not my area of expertise, second in command handles that stuff.
The second idea is for the empty car dealership up by the ArtsinStark offices. How about an antique mall? One of those big consignment deals like Medina? The large doors and ample windows are great for getting big pieces moved around. Nothing commercial like Hartville, I am envision the type where people rent a space or some showcases and try to sell Grandma’s old junk (stuff, heirlooms, collectibles…) not garage sale style, but if you have been to Medina’s on Route 18, you will understand. It is a clean, well organized, well lit, well staffed, full service business. Those places bring in lots of tourists (people love them in Amish country!), there is plenty of nearby parking, turnover of items keeps people coming back, and it would bring some much needed movement to that end of the district. No come and go weekend vendors or any of that parking lot stuff, this is a professionally managed business situation. No retail or craftsy stuff either, only quality consignment antiques, those dealers with the reputation to put authentic items for sale. Usually these establishments are along highways so huge signs can be seen from miles around, but with proper marketing, it could become a destination spot on a string of things to see. When Dad is at the giant juicer getting his fill of pig skin, mom and the girls and go look for vintage clothing and the like, see the galleries, then all meet for a nice dinner downtown. Maybe one of our local investors and long time advocates of historical preservation would bite the bullet and make the necessary renovations.

I look forward to being a regular member of the downtown family and have had such fun just getting the place set up this past couple of weeks. Oh, one more suggestion to the gallery down the street with that nice big lot for parking.…any chance you would consider allowing those local artists in residence to buy a parking pass so to speak for a flat monthly fee (a bit lower than what is available now?) for unlimited parking each month, that way if we have to dash in and out, we don’t have to time it to the drop box cop? I married a Transylvanian-Saxon so does that get me any clout with the whole name thing?

Have a great week everybody and I will post again after First Friday…stop by the new space that night at 2nd April and say hi!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Post-it Notes

Lots going on so I want to post a few highlights about upcoming events....

Snarky Art...the Studio will completed and ready by this coming weekend, June 25th. The official launch will be July's First Friday. I plan to come back from camp (yes, I will take a shower first and change out of my uniform) in order to be there.

Thursday July 15th will be a drawing event at Gervasi's from 6 - 8pm.

Monday July 19th I will be a celebrity bartender at the Arcadia Grill for the Red Ribbon Connection as Christmas in July continues. I should mention that it won't really be "me" who is hustling for tips, it will be Mrs. Clause "the early years". I will leave it at that.....

Gallery 6000 will have 5 new pastels on display come Tuesday August 3rd at the 5:30 - 7:30 opening event and on view through the end of October. I will be off with the US Army at that time but hope lots of people will go see the show that features the work of 4 area artists.

And finally, I want to say thank you to all those who sent nice notes, emails or stopped by to tell me that you enjoyed the recent pastel workshop. I may have reignited my teaching gene and with the new studio space, perhaps.....well, one thing at at time. I need to finish the place first!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Come Fly With Me

Miss me yet? I’ve been so busy that I have neglected my postings. To answer the question, yes W, I do, as gravitas has its merits but this post has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with what is “missing” and that when “found”, what a difference “it” makes. We all have different “its” hence the multitude of support groups and such out there intended to put “it” back into our lives and make us whole again, or at least functioning on a productive level.

Before I go on however, I must mention the Dorothy Shinn review in today’s Beacon Journal regarding the Figuratively Speaking show at Summit Artspace. Please come see the work of Lynn Digby and Marti Jones Dixon to realize that figurative arts are still alive and well and well done. I must mention too that Tom W is right; we need our own art reviewer here in Stark who publishes in a real newsprint format for all to see.

Okay, back to the issue at hand. This past week has revealed to me what “it” is that has been missing from my own creative process and that is the interaction with others my own age. As children, we hung out in little pockets of friend (before friends became something carried in our pocket). As young parents, we went to lessons and meetings and games, sitting dutifully on uncomfortable chairs or bleachers, passing the time with other parents. As parents of teens, we hurry up our day in order to be home when the car pulls in or sit up late until the last car pulls out, not quite interacting with anyone but God making sure He is on guard duty as well. As artists, our work ebbs and flows to fit into the eddies of life, sometimes gushing like rapids during moments of “freedom” and other times becoming a stagnant pool when time is not ours. Lately, I have found myself on a steady stream to nowhere until the offsite studio situation arose. At first, it was just a lifeline to draw me someplace else. Now that I am onboard, I realize that it was more than that; it is cruise ship of unlimited possibilities.

A couple of highlights from this past week will explain just what I mean. I can finally write about this because my hands, arms and shoulders no longer hurt quite so bad and typing was out of the question. Envisioning my long sought after black and white floor, I had to remove the existing carpet from the studio space, all 150 square feet of it or so. Tom Sawyer had a great gig going with that white fence of his; unfortunately I don’t think anybody else read the book so I did all the work myself. I did not mind however because lots of fellow artists stopped by to chat and check on my progress. Some would gather at the table just outside my space and pass some time. Why is this such a momentous thing to me? Because it felt like a big, weird, funk y family, something I never had. Insert the standard joke that my extended family (no branches, just a few twigs), puts the “fun” in dysfunctional, so people caring about each other is rather foreign to me, especially anybody caring at all about what I do, so just to offer a few words of encouragement is disconcerting and something I look forward to happily learning to deal with. (FYI comment does not apply to immediate family and one generation to my north, we tend to cling like zebra mussels to our own tiny dinghy floating on a sea of insanity).

The second event was just yesterday. I was asked to do a workshop on pastels. Sure, scare the *%&#%@ out of me to put me in front of a large number of fellow artists and ask me to talk/demo/teach about something I have only been doing for 9 months. But I dutifully tied on my smock, loaded up the laundry baskets, and reached back inside to find my inner (recertified finally) teacher. It was a blast for sure, but I could have done a lot better. I wish I had done better and subsequently spent a couple of glasses of wine playing the 20/20 hindsight game. But my point is that I was face to face with my fellow middle aged (except you Laurie) artists and it felt good. We had fun and I may have learned more from them than they did from me primarily that I miss the classroom and I miss helping others see the magical moments in front of them when it happens. I have been missing that next stage of bleacher seating.

So this is “it” for me….no, I am NOT going to quit blogging. What I mean is that I have to leave the nest too. If momma bird sits around on the nest waiting for another round of eggs to appear, she is going to be one cranky old hen (not to mention a miracle of modern science if one did show up). If everybody else gets to take off and fly well then look out because I got me a set of wings too (although still rather sore because that glue was really hard to scrape off). Granted, I still got one eaglet who roosts here at night, but he’s got his wings and knows how to use the washer so if momma is stuck on a layover, he can care for the place just fine. As of now, I am cleared for take-off. I don’t know where I am going or what I will find along the way, but I am really looking forward to the adventure!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Art from the Salon

North Canton Little Art Gallery
June 12 - July 10, 2010

I had the pleasure of spending my first few moments at the “Art from the Salon” show all by myself. Upon regaining my vision after the blast of color, the rest of my hour was in the company of a continuous stream of grandmas with grandkids in tow. After repeatedly hearing “look at the pretty kitty!” and “don’t touch that, let’s go over here!” I put down my notebook and instead, wrote a dialogue in my head. First, I mentally duct taped Grandma to the chair outside and gave her a magazine to look at. Then I took each child by the hand and said “come on kids, let’s go see some magic the Mrs. K way!”

First, we have to walk into the middle of the room and be surrounded by color, bold images and textures galore. Does it make you happy? Well good, now we will start over by Mr. Hench’s work, the one you so want to touch. Don’t, Grandma’s right about that, but it looks so inviting. Why? Because Mr. H has followed his white rabbit and Mrs. K, who has watched his work a long (long) time now, is delighted to see that he has found his magical place. Come sit on the bench and look at his work from here. See how the purple frame separates it from the textured brick wall so that it seems to become more of window into an enchanted place full of things to explore. How many different things can you find? What are they made of, tell me and I will make a list.

Now look over at some of the pieces by Mrs. Wetherall-Sack. Do see things that are sort of the same? Well Mrs. K thinks of it like a game of poker (go ask your Daddy about that later). I can see Mr. H and Mrs. S playing an art game….”I see your tiles and raise you some metal, “, “fine, I see your metal and raise you 2 squares of patterned paper….” and so on much to the delight of both of them.

Look over at the big dog picture? Yes, I know everybody likes the big dog that wants to go for a walk. Why do you think it wants to go for a walk? Yes, it is sunny outside and how do we know that? Right again, by the shadows. So the artist has told you something without having to make it really obvious. Artists do that with light. See if you can find some other pictures that use light. (I’ll wait right here and write in my book….) Okay, come back here and sit down. Now look at the painting next to the dog, the one by Mrs. Michel called “Over the Edge”. Yes, some of the pieces do come out over what one would call the edge of the picture, but I want you to see how the one piece is almost exactly the same size and shape and curve as the dog leash on the table in the painting next to it. Artists use shapes to tell us things. One can find lots of shapes in paintings by Mrs. Matin, and Mr. Maxwell. Look closely and tell me what you see. A germ? A tree? Keep looking…. (Hey Grandma, you okay out there? Kids are fine; we are finding all kinds of things in these pretty pictures…)

Sometimes artists use colors to tell us things, but sometimes that is really obvious so I want you to see how color can be transformed. Look at the red shirt on the golfer, really stare at it, don’t blink, keep staring…..I know, it is starting to get all fuzzy and blurry. Now close your eyes a moment. Okay, now look at the red painting above the golfer, did his shirt start to look like that painting which we call “abstract?” (It is really a “non-objective” painting, but for 1st grade, it is best to keep it simple). Look for other reds in the room. How do artist use them? Yes, the one with the Indian has a lot of red, but it also has some orange, several bold streaks of it. Mrs. K thinks that those lines of color are like lightening in the skies making the sky in the painting below it light up with orange and yellow. That one is my favorite, “Ghost Ranch” by Nancy Michel. Nope, I don’t see any ghosts either so what do you think she calls it that? I think it has to do with all the layers of colors and patterns that are transparent just like ghosts and make that dead tree a thing of beauty. Did you see how she used 4 mats in different colors to make all the colors in the painting important?

We should look at how artists frame things and how it makes the picture affect you. I think the cat (yes, the pretty kitty) is a really good example. One of the frames is striped wood. The stripes are like the fur around the cat’s one eye, same color and texture, so that eye really stands out. Now maybe the cat is looking out a window at the scene in the picture above it. See how the frame is all cut like little leaves. Sort of like looking through an arch of vines (trellis is too hard to explain) at the courtyard below us. We can be the cat in the window, so what do we find outside? (Hey Grannie, I think your kids need a kitten, I know somebody who has one to give away…..) Oh you are allergic? Okay, never mind. Yes, those people are dancing. No, they are not on Dancing with the Stars so she has to wear lots of clothes. Let’s go over here….

Mrs. K really likes these soft paintings in watercolor by Ms. Weinstein. They look very wet and misty which is one way watercolor can be used and it is really hard to do it well. No, they don’t look like real rocks or trees but you know they are so how does the artist make you believe it? Yes, shapes and colors and sometimes even where things are put on the paper, either high or low.

One final stop because Mrs. K has to go. Look at these two big ones side by side. Yes, Mr. H has another one (I know you like the horsey best, but all girls like horses and jewels, me too but stay over here….) and see the half face behind all the falling paint? What is the same between both of them? Yes, color and shapes for sure, but I think that Mr. H made a picture about what is inside the imagination of the girl (that would be Ms. Dulabaum) in the drippy picture. Yes, exactly, like she is dreaming and her world is melting and how those same melting lines show up in Mr. H’s picture. No she is not a hoarder, she just has a lot on her mind. Speaking of which….let’s go get Grannie and you can bring her back in here and show her how one is supposed to introduce art to kids. Oh and kids, if you say “look at the pretty kitty” one more time, I am going to kick some series patootie.

Bragging Rights

My space,so my chance to brag just a bit.I got a notice this morning that 3 of my pastel portraits will be included in the Richeson 75: Figure/Portrait 2010 Competition Publication as meritorius entries. Only the top 75 entries go to the exhibition location at the Richeson facility in Wisconsin, but us 55 runner ups get to join them in the book. The runner up class represents 22 states, Canada and Australia which is pretty good company. I will have to go find a "Miss Ohio" sash because yours truly is the only buckeye babe in the bunch. Good thing I don't have to sing for the talent competition!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dress Code at 2nd April Galerie

First off, that is a show title, not a chance to raid one’s closet for creative couture, but since I like pushing the envelope (gasp!) the fashions at the opening event did get photographed for future reference. The opening was quite the place to be on an off Friday. Perhaps I should take up the old social column duties and list some names. Remember those days? Monday was the day to see if your name was in the events section as opposed to the crime report or the obits. So in my best impersonation of Miss Barbara from Romper Room holding up her magic mirror..….I see Marcie and Gail and Joe and Diane and Stephen and Tom and Diane and Joseph and Tiffany (how was dinner?) and Nancy and Marti and Lynn and Brennis and Todd and Rod and Christian and eye candy…or whatever her name was…..and well, you get the picture. Which evidently quite a few people did because lots of red dots were scattered across the room.

Let’s start with the overall concept of this show which was an idea born from one woman tossing out an idea to another. Some of the best projects are started with the words “what if” and so it goes from there. Both Lynn Digby and Marti Jones Dixon have studio spaces at 2nd April so this was not a show to show their work per say, but to show their work as a collective thought. The size 22 red dress was on display at the door, the one that inspired Dixon’s pieces so we will start our journey with her works. Okay, I’m biased, red is my favorite color.

The deep sided canvases vary in size to accommodate the action of the figure so I am guessing. Overall I am reminded of Diane Belfiglio’s work in that the essence of light is essential to the composition as well as the patterns and the simplicity of shapes and forms. The first few works just inside the door that depict the figure in a pool and others in a hot tub remind me of David Hockney’s pool paintings with the patterns of light on water. Not an easy thing to do! Like Digby’s pieces, one has to look beyond and around the figure as well to see what else is going on in the background. Deep spaces are depicted and details rendered that are just as important to the image as the figures in the red dress. Come to think of it, I hope that thing went to the drycleaner before being propped up by the door….. It was nice to see that both women signed their paintings and in some cases, dated them as well. I know, I promised to explain why that is important in a posting at some point. Dixon has 17 pieces in this main floor exhibition, many already sold.

Lynn Digby’s pieces are also on deep sided canvases and deep in visual space as well. Did anybody notice the detail on the gargoyle in “Buffy”? Her expertise with paint is obvious as painting tattoos to look like they are part of the flesh and not just added over the top is a very difficult image to render. I’ve tried and may have to sneak over and watch how she does that. One of the largest canvases and my favorite is “Nicole”, the full figure portrait of a young girl in a blue dress with a snarky smirk on her face. Her whole personality comes through in the pose and the expression, no background needed. Digby has 7 pieces on the exhibition side of the room and quite a few more over on the north wall where her new space will be, rooming with Michele Waalkes.

Besides these pieces, several other artists have new work on display, some being new to the gallery. Large photos by Dabe Alan focus on the figure, a couple of which were at the Saxon Gallery photo judging last weekend….I have an opinion on that for a later posting. Photos by Rob Booth and a nicely rendered charcoal drawing by Lauren Bagley anchor the two edges of the featured show. Across the floor are the wall displays for the new studio spaces being built (next week right??!!) for Rosemary Hayne and Dana Muntean (hey, when did they get to be roomies too?) and Snarky Art.

If you have not been to 2nd April in a while, which evidently is going to be like the student union building of the campus, one can also buy CD’s, books, jewelry, pottery, stuff, coffee and more. At least a 150 people were there last night before drifting off to other campus parties. Oh, I must also mention that Tom was sick last night which frankly I find ridiculous. I also found out I am not supposed to actually carry a book around and write notes while viewing a show. Excuse me, but being blonde, female, an artist and middle aged….. I got four reasons why I need that notebook buster. Now where was I?

Oh yeah, be sure to spend some time absorbing all the surfaces and skills found in the Dress Code show. Don’t rush past them just looking at the pose of the figure or the “picture” itself. Paintings are built up one brush stroke at a time, which is a lot of time and a lot of work, even though it may not seem like it if one has not done it themselves. To truly appreciate a painting, one has to start with the overall image and then start to break it down to see how it was built up in the first place. Take a square inch of one of Digby’s faces and see how many colors and brush marks are in it. Take a square inch of Dixon’s diamond background and do the same. They may not be DaVinci, but the Code is just as complicated. (Oh come on, you all knew I would get that into this somehow!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

“The arts are an even better barometer of what is happening in our world than the stock market or the debates in congress.”
Hendrik Willem Van Loon

Great name isn’t it? Poor guy must have had it pretty rough in Junior High, but I like his quote because it is so true. When all else in life is just doom and gloom and impending disaster, artists find way to remind us about what is still good and pure and right (credit to Mr. Meatloaf). In which case, we must be headed for total annihilation because there is an overload of art going on right now!

Over the next week or so, I hope to get to as many of these as possible and post my ‘pinions, but until then, below is a listing of what is going on and where.

Tonight (Friday June 11, 2010) 5-9pm is the opening of Dress Code at 2nd April Galerie, a collaborative exhibit between Marti Jones Dixon and Lynn Digby. They will be my new neighbors in a couple of weeks when I join the family downtown. It has been fun watching the show take shape as it gets mounted on the walls and listening to the little things that pull it all together. Pay attention to the title tags on the wall; such details make all the difference.

Tomorrow (Saturday, June 12, 2010) 2-4pm is the opening of the Art From the Salon show at North Canton’s Little Art Gallery that consists of works by the students (yeah, right, been a long time since any of them had to sit at a desk and ask for a restroom pass) of painter/teacher/crazy lady Nancy Stewart Matin. Many of our local favorite names will have works on display. I can’t make the opening to view it (son turns 20 that day), but did get a small preview of pieces when I picked up one of my own last week. I will get there however, so stay tuned.

Sunday (June 13th, 2010) 10-3 is the Art al Fresco art fair on the grounds of Fieldcrest in North Canton. For those old time Cantonians, that would still be known as the Hoover property, just like Mellet Mall and Belden Village will never be known by their “new” names.

Downtown Massillon just put up a bunch of murals painted by the community to cover over bruises left by recent fires and blight. No big high priced installations needed here, just some love and attention inspired by the current gem of a show at the Museum itself.

Up north, the 20th Annual Juried show for the Artists of Rubber City continues through the 26th at the Summit Building which is right next door to the Akron Art Museum. I suppose one could stop in there too since it is so close by. Don’t forget our own museum however, Form and Function is still going on amidst several weeks of art camp offerings. Speaking of which, camp for me is only two weeks away, the kind with black snakes in the shower and skunks in the underbrush, so if you notice a lack of postings (like I missed a whole week!) then I am probably off climbing “Mount Tighty-butt” as we call it dodging raindrops and herding wayward scouts.

Let’s not forget Constellations of Women going on at Anderson Creative and then round the corner to find BZTAT being BZ and her neighbor galleries showing new works and preparing for the summer season. But for now, drop into the Dress Code show. Dixon features a red dress in her paintings, which reminds me about the red dress dilemma from a post way back when I first started this site. Remember the red dress that did not exist? Ha! I found it on a rack at the store that said they did not have it. And I was right, it was ugly once I put it on, so I bought the red one next to it and declared it a victory for my side.

I guess we can be thankful in one small way for all the current chaos in our country for as Mr. Loon says, the arts are a better barometer. And to me that barometric measure says the pressure is high to fill our world with color, creativity and camaraderie. (Thank goodness for spell check, that last one was a doozie).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Akron Artwalk Wonders

Just to our north, my favorite sister city has an Artwalk event on the first Saturday of each month. When I held my One Night Stand show there last year (April 2009), Todd V and I shook hands over an idea to someday bring Canton to Akron and Akron to Canton so as to take advantage of the two events as one big ongoing art party once a month. Needless to say, that idea, like many other good ones, get swept away by the continuous waves of things to do, opportunities that can’t wait, and the inevitable divides of 2 different ways of thinking. Perhaps someday the idea will take hold but for now, I want to share what is going on up there for those who have never taken advantage of the experience of our older sister.

For the record, no Artwalk will be held in July due to the holiday so the next chance is August 7th if you want to get out of the Football Follies and take a breather. The Akron art scene is spread out over a much larger area than Canton’s so one has to either walk or can take advantage of the free trolley service the operates from 5 – 10pm in a continuous loop with no wait lasting longer than 15 minutes. Lots of parking is tucked throughout the area. Buzzbin Magazine had an article about Akron’s Artwalk in its April 2010 issue but they did not connect it to Canton. Allow me to connect a few dots for you and weave a few threads between us and them.

First and foremost is the Akron Glassworks Gallery run by Jack Baker. Jack is a Canton guy. His wife helped me with Kimono, his son is in my Scout Troop (on his way to Eagle), and they have been a supportive family for the arts. His work is north of here however and well worth the trip to see a fine display of art glass that can be viewed in its production process as well. The gallery has the glassworks kilns right behind it with a viewing room for visitors. Another glass artist was acting as the guide, explaining each step of the process. Because the space can reach 120 degrees or more during the summer, classes are offered only in the fall and winter months. During Artwalks as well as all other times, Akron Glassworks, like both the Ice House complex and the Artspace complex, the studios are working, the artists are working and visitors can see how art is made, not just that it is for sale. A few of our galleries do just that during First Fridays and I hope to see more in the future.

Another Canton connection was with the Zeber-Martell studio who participated in the recent Canton National Art show. We had a chat about his experiences with the show and he had some good feedback. Outside his studio on the street was a sax player whom the owner had recruited from our own Friday events to come up and share his talents with the Akronites. The tin cup was overflowing so I suspect he will be back. With this gallery as well, one has access to the kilns and such that produce the fantastic ceramics pieces on display.

A third space to see is the Red Light Gallery, a former brothel; hence the small rooms down a narrow hall. Exhibits and artists are constantly changing (hmmm….customers come and go, image that!), but it reminded me of 2nd April’s Annex complex. One big difference, and one worth considering, is that all the walls, especially the hallways, had artwork on them, some of which were quite different and experimental, but one felt more like being in a complete space rather than going room to room. Ceilings, walls, doorways, stairwells…all of it was utilized and small gems of work could be found among the more attention grabbing “prop” pieces.

Canton shares the musical aspect of Akron’s event, probably to a better degree as Canton’s layout is more conducive to outdoor venues. Most of the music we heard seemed to come from inside the restaurants and galleries themselves. I overheard that Michael Stanley was playing nearby so that could have been a factor. We lack two things down here however, which could perhaps take our event and our district to the next level. One is outdoor dining options for good people watching. I don’t mean street vendors or park bench munching or tents with samples kept warm, I envision fenced off extensions of the finer restaurants with waiter service and the same menu as indoors. Umbrella tables, cloth napkins and so forth just like one sees in the bigger cities and more established art venues. The “see and be seen” crowd with money to spend on good wines and lingering tabs would probably appreciate this option.

The second thing we lack are clothing stores that sell one of a kind or urban chic boutique clothing at a fair price. Akron has several in their arts district that hold fashion shows and other related fabric and fashion inspired events during their Artwalk. With a major fashion school just to our north in Kent, maybe a student run satellite boutique could be located in the heart of the arts district. We have no fabric store (JoAnn’s does not count and neither do the quilt places in Amish country), we have no art paper outlet (been to Hollo’s?) and no designer label centered in Canton, Ohio. Our grasp of music, dance, theater and visual art is well established now, so maybe it is time to reach for the fashion fanatics, the fine dining donors, and the see it made crowd. Face painting has its place, but it does not appeal to everyone and is actually one reason given to me as to why some people I met in a gallery won’t come to FF’s. That was their impression of us, more street fair than sophistication, and more frat party than focused on art. In our defense, only a few years ago all we had was a pot hole and some punt pass and kick so given time, everything finds its niche and begins to grow roots.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Constellations of Women: Emily Vigil at Anderson Creative

Okay….I will say it because somebody has to…women are the stars of this show. Come on stop groaning, it is a line handed to me on a platter and goodness knows I can’t pass up a good pun. On that note, Anderson Creative continues its tradition (been around long enough to have traditions now!) of showcasing work and artists that need a space conducive to the display of ambitious projects.

Emily Vigil has been working on this installation for years. The concept was born (speaking of which, she will be a new mom in September which is the greatest art project of all!) from three events in her life that converged into one idea to celebrate the women who have influenced her life. One can read all about it on the large wall statement posted at the end of the installation. I am liking this large wall statement stuff, it makes it so much easier to read and relate to as opposed to passing out paper ones or having that tiny type on the wall and trying to read it while some guy who just ate garlic is crowding in as well.

The installation is comprised of hexagonal “stars” connected by blue painters’ tape then arranged into morphed versions of actual constellations. A star chart is posted but good luck on matching the layouts. Allotted space dictated some installation constraints but Emily did point out Draco and I could go from there. The tape contains writings that are closely akin to stream of consciousness thoughts (I knew James Joyce would come back to haunt me someday….should have avoided the Cliff notes) which are sometimes difficult to read due to the reflective nature of the pen, the height of the tape or just the disjointed thoughts, but then again, women are difficult to read too so I like the connection. I found a couple of phrases that could become potential paintings for my own work…”When you buy your house, make sure it has a gossip fence” and “she had had a choice among several lives”, which are just a sampling of the text found between the images on the stars.

The rest of the gallery (Anderson was keeping secrets) are works by the women who contributed stars to the main installation. My only criticism is that I would have liked to have had a star from the galaxy behind me, included with each of the artist’s works on the surrounding walls so that I could make a connection between the two. These other pieces on view certainly contain several shining stars of their own (yes, I am going to milk this any way I can!).

Katherine Cox’s drawings are wonderful. The images made out of graphite, handmade paper and kozo paper show a distinct talent for observational detail as well as the merging of media so as not to overwhelm any of them. Sandra Thouvenin (I apologize if I spelled it wrong, Joseph made sure I had a glass of wine as soon as I walked in the door so balancing that with a book and a pen can lead to misspellings…always good to blame somebody else isn’t it?) had a porcelain dish of tiny bones laid out like sushi. Chipmunks and other small rodents were well represented. Her linocut “Dead Bird” really caught my attention however as again; it was a superb blend of scale, texture and purpose from the decaying frame to the frayed edges of the paper upon which it was printed.

Other bright spots to seek out (I’ll groan for you, saves time), are Claudia Berlinski’s relief prints on the back wall, Stacie Marie Leech’s “Small Dress #2” construction and Jody Hawk’s large photographs of hidden places. There are also a few pieces I just don’t get personally, but if we all liked the same thing, how boring would that be? Just because one does not relate to a piece does not mean it can’t be appreciated and used as a learning experience. Binary code knitting for example, that takes skill and some mental gymnastics of which I just would not have the patience, plus I flunked knitting every time my Grandmother tired to teach me. I got pretty good at embroidery and such which is why I found Clare Murray Adams’ constructions so intriguing. The first piece in the door has a tiny label on it that many girls now-a-days would not understand. We older ladies who had to take home economics in junior high (cooking in 7th, sewing in 8th) would buy labels that said “Made especially for you by….” I still have a roll of them in my sewing box (vintage late 60’s)so when I found one on her sculpture along with the blanket stitched edges and wayward zippers, it sparked memories of the women who tormented me back then (I’d say taught but Mrs. Davidson was more a witch than a wizard). Just such a relationship is what this overall exhibition is about, making connections between women in our lives so therefore it worked! (Remembering some women in my life would provoke more shooting stars than constellations however….where is Craig with that second glass when I need it?)

Back to the main installation of the Constellations however, since that is top billing here. It is best viewed standing back for an overall impression as it is a rather complicated construction (like all women truly are). Don’t take it all in too quickly, look at the individual images which contain many old photographs now presented as cyanotypes on wood (cyan meaning blue and women feel blue a lot too not that my comment has anything to do with the choice of color), and then spend some time with the rest of the pieces. The overall presentation of these works are well done in regards to use of space, color and scale (Craig and Kevin understand their environment which I have pointed out before and it shows through each time) as well as the use of labels. I just wish I had a little hexagon by each artist to remind me to connect to the image behind me more directly. I guess I wanted to know who said their house needed a gossip wall.

Emily Vigil has succeeded in making visual what is often done in literature or chick flick movies; she has paid tribute to the females who paved our own pathways. I am sure that once she settles into the whole new mom thing, this project will take on even more significance in her personal life and I suspect that sometime down the road (that path just got bigger didn’t it), a second hemisphere of constellations will be mounted on these very walls. Until that happens, don’t miss the current one…and one more thing, go call your Mom and thank her for putting up with you. If she is now only a star in the sky, then say a prayer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Life Rocks

This has been a busy spring/summer season so far as I am sure is true for all of us. Not the kind of “busy” as far as having to get things done, but “busy” as in joining others to celebrate, commemorate or inebriate (on someone else’s tab). The events have included a funeral, a wedding, a graduation, a Court of Honor and now numerous parties for the newly degreed and a couple of impending birthdays. As I sat through another event last night, I got to wondering about how we, as social creatures in an increasingly isolated (yet constantly connected) world, still feel the need to assemble in person and share the joys and sorrows of real life.

These events are not just for the benefit of the people being honored or memorialized, they are just as much for those who come to witness and offer support. One should take away something personal from each gathering, be it a memory long forgotten, a quote for future use, or just an appreciation for knowing that people still care for one another.

I heard a great line in a graduation speech last night that I wanted to share. I did not hear who said it or if he came up with it himself (the traditional graduation airhorns - grrrrr- were going off making it difficult to hear at times) and would thus gladly credit the source if I knew it. “The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is how one uses them”. Now personally, I am the queen of quotes. I based by whole high school yearbook on them the year I was editor (1978) when we still had to find quotes in books at the library (Al Gore had not invented the internet yet….heck, my calculator cost $100 and only did 4 functions!).

In my convoluted way of thinking, this quote led to the phrases centered on the “throwing of stones” genre. What would happen if one gathered all those moss covered stones and built a bridge to cross over or a dam to keep out? Perhaps one could put on some Rolling Stones and dance their way across yet another roadblock. In case my fellow artists have not noticed, exhibition opportunities are drying up as the economy continues to tighten its belt. These past 18 months have seen stone after stone after stone getting tossed in my direction, most with the word “no” written on them. The speech last night finally put it all in perspective. These have not been stumbling blocks (or stumbling stones), they have been wake up calls and a chance for me to gather as many as possible and build a pile upon which to climb up and take a better look at what is really out there.

These recent rash of gatherings have been the stepping stones of life. As one life ends, a marriage begins. As a youth completes the trail, another begins a new road, all while an audience of old rockers (not IN old rockers just yet) stand behind them and weep or cheer (or both). So fellow creative types, gather up that gravel which may be lying at your feet as well and let us combine it into one strong foundation of solid rock in support of each other. Go to all those grad parties, give up a sunny Saturday to witness a wedding, and drive the many miles it may take to say one last good bye. Forget the mild resentment of having to give up yet another chance to work on a project, and instead, rejoice in the gathering of others who sought to gather with you. Oh yeah…you might want to take your sketchbook along too because the programs provided usually don’t offer enough blank space for a decent doodle. Just a thought from down here in the gravel pit (and that last one left a bruise!)