Apr 102024
 

Nalani Stolz “Bread Bodies”, bread, ceramic, muslin

Nalani Stolz, “”like floating in thick waters”, fermented membrane, stainless steel

Nalani Stolz, “a small ocean swallowed” baking soda, ceramic, cheesecloth, vinegar, pump, latex

“a small ocean swallowed”, closer

Nalani Stolz, “a wild wetland in our gut” ceramic, plum vinegar, muslin, stuffing, salt

Nalani Stolz, “a wild wetland in our gut” ceramic, plum vinegar, muslin, stuffing, salt

The Sculpture Center in Cleveland is currently showing Nalani Stolz’s Bodies Still Becoming and Zachary Smoker’s Inured.

With the sound of water dripping, the bread stretching fabric, and growth covered vessels leaking into mattresses- Stolz’s sculptures engage the viewers senses, at times viscerally.

She has also included her film Traces in the exhibition. For this work she and her mother slowly sew their hair together through a sheet of gauze.

From the gallery about the exhibition

The bodies Nalani Stolz crafts bulge, grow, and break down. Materials such as rising dough expand and constrict, cloth sculptures leak and ooze, fermented membranes and porous clay forms seep vinegar, growing warts across their surfaces. These bodily processes draw on the often-gendered experiences of how our physical forms take in and expel matter; the feelings of expansion and fullness and those of emptying out, of breaking down when weeping, menstruating, and experiencing miscarriage, abortion, and pregnancy. These moments shift our seemingly solid edges and reveal our porous boundaries; reminding us that we are dying, changing, decaying vessels, loosely contained by skin, muscle, and bone.

Zachary Smoker’s sculptures for Inured address issues related to U.S. currency, power, capitalism, and material culture. In two of the works, familiar items ask questions about purpose. The whiffle ball bat /police baton combination mixes violence and play. Shopping carts now have associations with living on the street, as well as for buying goods in a store- which one will this be used for when assembled?

Zachary Smoker, “Crony Tikes”, Plastic Whiffle ball bats, pegboard, double hooks, 2024

Zachary Smoker, “Anyone can make Art, not everyone can buy it”, Demonetized U.S. currency, BFK Rives, Elmer’s glue stick, safety wire glass, poplar, enamel paint, paint marker, 2023

Zachary Smoker, “A place for everyone, and everyone in their place”, Steel shopping cart, polyurethane wheels, enamel paint, 2024

Both of these exhibitions close on 4/13/24.

Apr 072024
 

“Moon Setting into Fog Bank over Cape Cod Bay, Morning of the Total Lunar Eclipse”, 2007, printed 2023

“1:30-4:30a.m., Moon Rising, Antelope Lake”, 2011, printed 2023

“Sun Ball, Imnamatnoon Creek, Lochsa River Valley”, 1995, printed 2023

“Fireflies”, 2005

One of the smaller prints from the “Fireflies” series

There is something so peaceful about the photographs in Barbara Bosworth: Sun Light Moon Shadow, currently on view at Cleveland Museum of Art. These beautiful moments she has captured allow the viewer to share her sense of wonder.

From the museum about the exhibition-

“My childhood home is where all my photographs come from,” says American photographer Barbara Bosworth (born 1953). Growing up in Novelty, Ohio, Bosworth adored walking with her father and looking up at the night sky, a practice that became a lifelong passion. This exhibition -timed to coincide with the total solar eclipse visible in Cleveland on April 8— features the artist’s photographs of light, from eclipses, sunrises, and sunsets to the luminescent glow of fireflies and a flashlight. Her images both explore how we endow these phenomena with personal meaning and elucidate bonds between humans and the natural world that often go unnoticed.

Photography is an art form with its roots in science, even though the two disciplines are sometimes considered opposites. The term photography was coined in 1839 by British scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel from Greek words meaning “drawing with light.” Bosworth notes that light is an essential ingredient in both astronomy and photography. The camera and telescope, used together as Bosworth has in a number of the photographs on view, each collect light.

Time is another integral component of photography: a photograph records the light that strikes a sensitized surface-such as film or, in the case of digital photography, a sensor-during a certain length of time. In making her photographs of the heavenly bodies, Bosworth says she wants “to be reminded of the mystery closer to home: the sheer strangeness that light — millions of years old, unfathomably old – can still land on my film and be seen.”

This exhibition is on view until 6/30/24.

 

Apr 032024
 

Julia Schenkelberg, “Blue Ocean”, 2020, Blue dye, resin, rusted metal from Detroit factory floors, plaster chips, vintage china, glass from Brooklyn beaches

Malone University Art Gallery’s exhibition Healing Spaces features work by Northeastern Ohio artists Julie Schenkelberg, Chen Peng, Yiyun Chen, and Emily Bartolone. Although the mediums differ, the work flows together in the room. Below are some selections and more about each artist from the gallery’s documentation.

Julie Schenkelberg, “Modern Memorial”, 2020, Found screen, plaster, acrylic paint, vintage leather and fabric, jewelry box interior, glass gathered from Cleveland and Detroit auto and steel factory abandoned floors, vintage glass slide of the Parthenon Frieze

Julie Schenkelberg grew up in the post-industrial landscape of Cleveland, Ohio. Her mixed-media installations start with furniture, dishware, textiles, and marble, combined with concrete, resin, and construction materials, to transform notions of domesticity, and engage with the American Rust Belt’s legacy of abandonment and decay. Using the home as a playground for formal and conceptual subversions, the work aggressively disrupts cohesion within the physical sphere. Familiar furnishings rekindle memories or premonitions of collapse, suggesting both the utter destruction of war, calamities, or urban decay, but also the uncanny juxtapositions of fragile substances such as cloth and china, with industrial materials such as rusty metal, heavy concrete, and tool-made marks such as drilled holes and chain-sawed indentations.

Chen Peng, Paintings from the “Mountains at Night” series, 2023, gouache, acrylic, and oil on canvas

Deriving from a desire to find stillness and grounding as an immigrant, Chen Peng explores the connection between landscape and the complexities of identity and belonging. She creates foreign landscapes from a combination of past experiences, memories, and imagination, delving into the disorienting sense of not knowing where home is. The moon, particularly in its fullness, becomes a symbol encapsulating emotions and metaphors associated with loneliness, reverence, and even terror. Her ceramic pieces extend this exploration of landscapes, featuring textures and marks that convey the essence of mountains, clouds, and the moon.

Photographs from from Yiyun Chen’s series “Velleity”, 2016-2018

Yiyun Chen, “Velleity”, detail

Yiyun Chen, Handmade photobook, 2018

The photography of Yiyun Chen is about the process of self-reflection and self-discovery as an Asian immigrant, exploring the relationship between people, environment and society, turning its personal experience and empathy into gentle conversations between humans and nature, capturing the poetic and distance of the environment around us. Through photography, we can take the essence of life seriously again and treat the people and things around us tenderly. Through his lens, they often have similar structure, people look tiny in nature scenes, creating an intimate visual experience. Most of his photographs are captured outdoors, with soft light and harmonious colors often used.

Painting by Emily Bartolone

Painting by Emily Bartolone

Stemming from her infatuation with the formal elements of painting, the work of Emily Bartolone pairs down simple, anthropomorphized shapes in an effort to explore paint and color theory while simultaneously creating tension and humor through color, edges, and texture. The playful, human qualities of painting are incorporated into the work through the use of amorphous shapes animated within the picture plane. Further informed by ideas of the mundane, the awkward, and the jovial that surround everyday life, the complexity of human relationships are mimicked by the shapes interacting on each painting’s surface. In acknowledging that life is not always cordial, moments of tension are placed within the satisfying surfaces in the form of an abrupt mark, a disparate color, or a shift in scale. These ideas are used to take viewers outside of themselves for a short period of time, hoping to offer a break from the bombardment of distractions, notifications, and news we encounter so often on a daily basis.

This exhibition closes 4/9/24.

 

Mar 282024
 

Jazzalyn Palma, “21st st”, Oil on canvas, 2023

Rachel Augustson, “Gaze”, Ink on Paper, 2023

Ashton Burton, “…”, Oil on canvas, 2023

Cleveland Institute of Art’s 78th Student Independent Exhibition is currently on view in their Reinberger Gallery. The juried show is organized by the students and includes work from all mediums.

There are so many great pieces in this show, above and below are just a few selections.

This exhibition closes 4/7/24.

James Schaffer, “Bound”, Oil on canvas, 2023

James Schaffer, “Bound”, Oil on canvas, 2023 (detail)

Gwen Putz, “Viv!”, Monoprint, 2023

Tristen Kovacs, “897”, Spray paint and acrylic on canvas, 2023

Emily Fontana, “Untitled”, Acrylic and spackle on fabric, 2024

Emily Fontana, “Untitled”, Acrylic and spackle on fabric, 2024 (detail)

Mar 202024
 

Akron Soul Train supports local artists through a residency program, exhibitions, and a shop in the front of the gallery which sells their work. Currently the gallery is showing work by Matthew Kurtz (work seen above) and Thomas Smith (work pictured below). Both artists are approaching the environment in different and interesting ways. Several of Kurz’s video pieces are focused on his upcoming performance for the solar eclipse. His photographs, for which he’s created additions to scenes he finds, are charming- as is his sculpture- a piano that moves his natural additions when played.

From the gallery-

Performance artist Matthew B. Kurtz presents Drumroll for a Total Eclipse: A Preliminary Exhibition, a prelude to his upcoming live performance with this year’s solar eclipse. Kurtz’s work fuses place, nature, sound, rhythm, and movement to question the mystery of existence. With humor, curiosity, and in tandem with his surroundings, Drumroll explores the process of trying to understand wonder.

For his upcoming performance on April 8, 2024, Kurtz will invite an audience to celebrate the total eclipse. Collaborating with the cosmos, he will perform a drumroll before “totality” passes over Northeast Ohio and creates the natural phenomenon known as “the blackout.”

“When I engage with a site for an art piece, I consider its history, recontextualize its objects, and insert my identity through intuitive gestures. I was raised to believe that humans are supposed to connect the lines between their innate feelings and the unknown. Making art is [my] attempt to reclaim this existential directive. These experiences are documented so outside viewers can participate in my examination of ambiguities, systems, and the sublime.” — Matthew B. Kurtz

Kurtz is also a musician. Check out his Instagram and Bandcamp to listen to his 2021 album 107.

For Thomas Smith’s sculptures he creates natural environments within man-made structures and uses the results as a commentary on the growth and sustainability of suburban development.

From the gallery-

In SUBARIUM II reprise, Thomas Smith combines materials from big box stores with contained terrariums to generate a sense of security and quality. However, upon second look, the viewer may see past the façade of what may look safe to what is substandard. Perhaps it is even denying growth and positive change. Smith’s sculptures dare to ask questions about survival, public image, and the landscape of today.

“Akin to an ecosystem enclosed in a terrarium, my sculptures depict a vibrant but, ultimately, unsustainable artificial environment. As plants within the terrarium grow, competition for space intensifies, turning the once-comfortable space into a struggle for survival. The metaphor extends to suburban America, where curated living conditions prioritize aesthetics over functionality, reflecting an impermanent American Dream.”

— Thomas Smith

 

Both of these exhibitions close 3/23/24.​

Mar 192024
 

On view as part of the permanent collection at Akron Art Museum is Joseph Stella’s oil painting, Tree of My Life, from 1919.

From the museum about the work-

Joseph Stella described his inspiration for Tree of My Life as an epiphany: “A new light broke over me. I found myself in the midst of a joyous singing and delicious scent … of birds and flowers ready to celebrate the baptism of my new art.” Throughout the painting, forms and colors are infused with symbolic significance. The gnarled tree trunk represents the weathering effect of life’s temptations, while red lilies, blue patches of sky, and white blossoms symbolize lifeblood, divine protection, and spiritual ascendance. Stella, who maintained connections to his native Italy while living in America, combined this dense visual poetry with elements of adventurous European styles. Tree of My Life thus presents a distinctive new vision, marking an important moment in the course of Stella’s career and in the progress of American modern art.

Happy first day of spring! (in the Northern Hemisphere)

Mar 182024
 

Moses Soyer’s oil painting, Young Girl, is one of the works on view in A New Deal: Artists of the WPA from the CMA Collection at Canton Museum of Art. The exhibition is a reminder of one of the best social programs ever created by the US government and the positive impact it had on the country during one of its hardest periods.

From the museum about the exhibition-

Against the backdrop of severe economic strife caused by the Stock Market Crash of 1929, President Franklin Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which put roughly 8.5 million Americans, including more than 173,000 men and women in Ohio, to work building schools, hospitals, roads and more. Within the WPA was The Federal Art Project (FAP) which provided employment for artists to create art for municipal buildings and public spaces. The FAP had a non-discrimination clause that meant it attracted and hired artists of color and women, who previously received little attention in the art world. The only guidance the government offered about subject matter was to depict the “American scene” and stipulated no nudity or political issues. The goal was for artists to help the United States develop its own distinct American style of art, especially as artists in other parts of the world were forbidden freedom of expression and ordered to create artworks that projected the beliefs of their governments.

Though the WPA artists in the United States shared the common goal of capturing life in all its variety and promoting national pride, they each had different approaches, and many modified their typical subject matter to fit whatever project they were assigned. The arts before and after the New Deal relied on private patronage and the philanthropy of wealthy and elite institutions: galleries, museums, dealers. But during the WPA, art wasn’t a luxury good, it was seen as an essential part of our democracy. Artists were seen as professional workers who were making important and significant contributions to American life. The artworks made under the WPA became the collection of the American people and were put in public collections – hospitals, schools, post offices, housing projects, etc. – ensuring they were part of communities. The arts were seen as an important part of a democratic society and the American way of life, with a richness of experience and accessibility to culture.

While artists were offered opportunities through the WPA, they were far from immune to the distress caused by the Depression, and many still struggled to make a living. Will Barnet detailed a bleak scene he came across, saying:

“It was like a war going on. There were bread lines and men lined around three, four, five, six blocks waiting to get a bowl of soup. It was an extraordinary situation. And one felt this terrible dark cloud over the whole city.”

Moses Soyer also described the hardships artists experienced, saying,

“Depression–who can describe the hopelessness that its victims knew? Perhaps no one better than the artist taking his work to show the galleries. They were at a standstill. The misery of the artist was acute.”

The FAP supported the creation of thousands of works of art, including more than 2,500 murals that can still be seen in public buildings around the country. The FAP also supported art education and outreach efforts, including traveling exhibitions and art education programs for children. The WPA and FAP had a significant impact on the American art scene, and many of the artists who participated in the program went on to become important figures in the art world.

A New Deal: Artists of the WPA from the CMA Collection highlights the lives of artists from our Permanent Collection who worked for the WPA, and in doing so, fostered resilience for a struggling nation. You will learn about the projects they worked on, the subjects they were interested in, and how their own lives were affected by the Depression. Each of these artists helped to foster the nation’s spirit and prove that even in the darkest of times, art serves as a uniting force to collectively lead people into a brighter future.

And about Moses Soyer and his painting from the museum-

The Depression set the mood for most of Soyer’s art expression, and his portraits of people seem to be preoccupied with a sad secret. His portraits were often of solitary figures, using professional models or his friends, capturing in these paintings the spirit of his sitters, their dreams or disillusionment. He is best known for his introspective figure paintings of weary, melancholy women in muted colors, matching the mood of his sitters with the pigment in his paint. He was inspired by artist Edgar Degas, who used color expressively.

On the museum’s website you can find both the artwork on display for the exhibition and also a gallery of the museum’s entire collection organized into several categories.

 

Mar 162024
 

Watercolor paintings by Katherine Strobel

There is A LOT of work currently on view at Summit Artspace for their Winter Exhibitions (see the previous two posts) and it is worth mentioning these shows as well.

In the Welcome Gallery are watercolor paintings (seen above) by Katherine Strobel, for her exhibition, Bad Nostalgia.

Her statement about the work-

People forget to take pictures of things that don’t matter because it’s impossible to photograph qualities such as the feeling of an inside joke, the sound of an exhale through the nose, or dirty silverware that must be returned to the kitchen and replaced. These things act as set, pieces for what make up the rest of our lives. This series is a catalog of work that focuses on memory and candidness of a scene or subject. The people pictured are painted from life or candid photographs which are then emphasized from a naive image to something more. When an image is exaggerated with new colors and shapes it serves to make the mundane more desirable. The paintings are watercolors with a textured surface; the texture creates a sense of play with paper elements. In my work watercolor is often indicative of memory because of its ephemeral quality and transparent layers. This is because of how impossible it is to clarify every element that makes up a color when the layers are all compressed and viewed as a complete state.

Below are works from FRESH, an annual exhibition of local artists juried by Pita Brooks, Executive Director of Akron Soul Train. The website has all of the artists included and their statements and bios- definitely worth taking a look at what is being created in the area.

Michelle Eisen, “I’ve Made My Bed”, Silkscreen on hardboard

Steven Mastroianni “Fathomable Series #24”, Unique cameraless photogram, silver gelatin print

Finally, on view throughout the building are works by local students, teachers, and school leaders for Taking Care of Our House: Communities Coming Together and Making a Difference. The exhibition is made with the organization Art Resistance Through Change (ART-C). The works pictured below are a few of the sculptures created that included the personal narratives of the artists.

It’s worth mentioning that along with these exhibitions there are artists studios and galleries also in the building and worth checking out. Summit Artspace is open Fridays 12-7pm and Saturdays 11am-5pm.

Mar 162024
 

Stephen Tornero “Don’t Tell Me” Hand dyed wool, acrylic rods

Chad Troyer “Crashing Waves” (bottom) and “Calming Shores” (top) Jacquard-woven, gradating waffle weave; Cotton, linen, rayon, silk, birch

Jen P. Harris “Oscillator” (left) and “Sphinx” (right) Hand-woven cotton, canvas, gesso, and thread on wood stretcher bars//Hand-woven cotton, canvas, thread, and acrylic paint on wood stretcher bars

Trey D. Gehring, “Stacked” Woven cotton yarn, crocheted acrylic yarn, fabric paint

Etta Sandry “Pivot: Moi-même” and “Pivot: Big Squish”, Cotton and cottolin, handwoven on Jacquard loom//Cotton and wool, handwoven on Jacquard loom

There are some incredible pieces in Waffle Weave Invitational, one of the current exhibitions at Summit Artspace. A few selections are pictured, but head to the gallery’s website to see all of the work on view.

From curator Stephen Tornero (who also has work in the show)-

This show was conceived as an idea to focus on a specific structural variable of a textile, and see how many different variations artists, artisans, and craftspeople would be able to produce. While researching the development of weaving technology, a loom with the capability to create complex structures was developed around 600 CE simultaneously in different cultures. This structure could have been produced by these looms, but also could have been designed much earlier by hand-manipulation of threads by the weaver. The waffle structure is so unique in its ability to transform a textile- seemingly a two dimensional surface- into a three dimensional object that has depth as shown by many repeated square pyramidal cells. Historically, this structure was used to create a textile that would hold water in its cells for cleaning or drying, or to help insulate the body with tiny pockets of air.  This structure can be modified by changing the color of the threads with which it is woven, the fiber content of those threads, or even by expanding the amount of threads used in a cell, expanding the scale. 

Statements from the artists about the work pictured above (from the Summit Artspace website)-

Stephen TorneroDon’t Tell Me– “This piece is part of a continuing study of material, color, and structure in textiles. I have been mesmerized with the “waffle weave” structure and its ability to create large, three dimensional pockets of space. This pieces experiments with the combination of the flexible, fibrous wool yarns with the rigid neon acrylic rods. These two materials are combined in a large textile in order to explore the effects that this unique weaving structure will have on these materials. This use these two opposing materials in the piece creates a dialogue between the traditional usefulness of this wool weaving and its display on the wall as a work of art.”

Chad TroyerCrashing Waves and Calming Shores– “The gradating structure allows for the weft to float acrost the surface of the weaving for varying lengths, from half an inch to nearly the whole width. The warp is allowed to float for varying lengths, but not nearly as long as the weft. After it was taken off the loom, the weaving was stretched. Parts of it were pulled, and others were left loose, allowing the floats to be accented by the folding and tautness of the cloth. The two pieces are the same piece of cloth cut apart, however they both display a different state of being: turbulent & calm.”

Jen P. HarrisOscillator and Sphinx– “These small weaving-painting hybrids are part of an ongoing, experimental body of work in which I am developing a heterogeneous formal language that both honors and questions histories and conventions of painting and weaving.”

Trey D. GehringStacked– “Stacked follows a line of investigation by the artist into a poststructuralist analysis of language as a system of symbols that lack meaning beyond context. The piece melds the namesake with the woven structure itself creating a hyper-literal interpretation of the exhibition’s theme. However, an understanding of the theoretical underpinning is unnecessary and secondary to the enjoyment of the whimsical and humorous nature of the work.”

Etta SandryPivot: Moi-même and Pivot: Big Squish- “My woven work focuses on samples that explore dimensionality in woven cloth using techniques such as multi-layer weaving, pleating, and woven structures that are elastic, self-shaping, and otherwise transformative, like the pocketed cells of waffle weave. This work creates a series of translations between the flat draft and the materiality of the cloth. Weaving is a technically binary structure: a warp thread can be either raised or lowered. When drafted, woven structure is drawn as a flat grid. Woven in multiple layers, cords, and pleats, weaving maintains its inherent binary nature but takes on a new physical dimensionality. Between the flat draft and the woven cloth, there is an unknowable material transformation that reflects the nuance, radical variation, and possibility that emerges from a seemingly set and limited system. In these works, this variation is expressed through two large waffle weave samples that test the limits of the waffle structure. Each piece weaves the same design of increasingly large waffle cells. Moi-même presents a balanced the waffle weave in which warp and weft threads of a similar weight and color draw out a subtle loosening of the structure as the size of the cells increase. In The Big Squish, the waffle structure is boldly packed, extended and distorted by colorful wool wefts.”

This exhibition closes 3/16/24.

Mar 152024
 


The mural above is a reproduction of Masumi Hayashi’s Edgewater Park no.2, Cleveland, OH. The mural is located in Cleveland and is one of the many public art projects organized by LAND Studio.

From the information plaque next to the mural about the artist-

Masumi Hayashi (1945- 2006) was a visionary fine art photographer who taught at Cleveland State University for 25 years. During her time in Cleveland, she lived in the Gordon Square neighborhood in the first residential development project of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. Dr. Hayashi was a beloved neighbor, friend, and local artist. She achieved global success with her signature format, the panoramic photo collage.

Hayashi was born in the Gila River War Relocation Camp in Rivers, Arizona, which was one of the U.S. government’s Internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Hayashi created her striking panoramic photo collages by assembling individually shot color photographs into a composition, like tiles in a mosaic. She shot photographs in a meticulously ordered sequence using a completely manual, non-digital film camera on a tripod. A single piece could take four to eight hours to shoot, and she might not see the results for days or weeks. When working at a site, she had to imagine the composition she desired from a location, and then create the individual photographs, while considering factors like time of day, weather, and location of the sun, through the entire shoot. Many of her large panoramic compositions involve more than one hundred individual photographic prints.

Much of Hayashi’s work explores socially difficult subjects, like the Japanese-American Internment camps, abandoned prisons, and EPA Superfund cleanup sites. She was able to create artwork that makes difficult subjects approachable. Her earlier work includes many significant sites in Cleveland, including the Cultural Gardens, RTA stops, Lake Erie and Edgewater Park (as seen in the artwork shown to the left). Later in her career, her artwork reflected a deep interest in culturally significant spiritual sites in India, Nepal, Japan, and Thailand.