Jun 072024
 


Kurimanzutto is currently showing two bodies of work from Argentinian artist Marta Minujín’s remarkable and varied career. The brightly colored soft sculptures are captivating but the darker pieces provide an intriguing balance.

From the press release-

“Easel painting is dead,” Marta Minujín explained in 1966, “Today man can no longer be satisfied with a static painting hanging on a wall. Life is too dynamic.” This pronouncement on painting’s demise centers a “death v. life” dialectic that propelled Minujín’s artistic experiments throughout the tumultuous 1960s. Her pursuit of a radically dynamic and temporal art that could, in her own words, “register changes that take place minute by minute” turned Minujín into a trailblazer of happenings, performances, participatory environments, and mass media art in her home country of Argentina as well as in France and the U.S.

Such a pioneering trajectory was first set into motion by two bodies of work created before 1965: Minujín’s soft sculptures, known as “Los eróticos en Technicolor [The Erotics in Technicolor]” and her chthonic paintings and assemblages in an informalist style. Together these discrete chapters of her oeuvre form a tensely intertwined conceptual dyad ruled by opposite forces, Eros and Thanatos, respectively. Their common ground—what they evoke as a site registering changes—was the body. Both series generated radically anthropomorphic artworks while implicating the body of the artist, the viewer, and the body politic, too.

For the first time since 1963, when Minujín’s informalist assemblages shared her Paris studio with “Los eróticos”, these two series of work have been brought exclusively together, allowing for their dialogue on the vulnerabilities and joys of the embodied condition to unfold. They speak of crises that go well beyond painting’s purported expiration—houselessness, chronic disease, ailing democracy, and the sexual revolution, among others—and that, though proper to the 1960s, resonate with present circumstances. Yet, by virtue of their Janus-faced nature, Minujin’s early works also suggest the possibilities of community, healing, and jubilant defiance before such upheavals and predicaments.

This exhibition closes 6/8/24.

May 302024
 

Beverly Semmes’ exhibition Cut Paste, at Susan Inglett Gallery, expands on her previous work with new textures and fabrics. A red velvety robe hovers behind a sky blue painting containing a wave of blond curls and a partial eye looking out at you. Two pairs of hands on yellow mirror each other.  Duplicates appear again in the paintings adorning textured vests sewn to a gauzy orange fabric.

The materials enhance the details of their attached paintings, but they also create questions about their meaning. What is the purpose of the robe, the high heels, manicured nails, the fake (or real) white fur – do they represent luxury or the illusion of it?

From the press release-

I begin by drawing and painting on an image from a porn or fashion magazine page. I then use scissors and tape to further separate the image. from this context/environment. A new image is born from these parts, most of which belong to my longtime friend Nikie, who modeled in the early 2000s. The pair of hands, the foot in a shoe, those are all Nikie’s.

—Beverly Semmes

In Cut Paste, Semmes ups the ante in her perennial mixing of mediums, found images, scale and techniques. Early on Semmes brought her roughhewn ceramic pots literally into the folds of regal wall-to-floor sculptures, her signature works, setting them out like buoys in the pooling fabric. Now paintings enter the fray, no longer separate but equal. While several large paintings are presented conventionally, others are treated as accessories to the fabric pieces, where they appear at chest height. Smaller than a breast plate, too large to be a pendant, the odd coupling trades in the artist’s long standing engagement with Surrealism and the absurd. One of the assemblages has a companion piece–a full-size, independent version of the “worn” painting–amplifying the dialogue between historically cisgendered sewing and painting, the one grounded in the here and now, the other conjuring a world apart. The paintings are themselves hybrids resulting from a recursive process of hand painting on iterative hi-res scans of the cut, pasted and taped magazine drawings. But paint has the final word, variously altering, accentuating and concealing what lies beneath.

The group of work as a whole is set to the rhythm of repetition through doubling and Rorschaching. A pair of wall-mounted twins in orange organza, standing shoulder to shoulder like choir boys, wear matching paintings. Doubling down, the small canvases feature a mirrored composite image involving photographic and painted bare legs, red pitchers, a sofa and stripes. The image has then been further altered–abstracted–by its upended presentation as a vertical when it actually reads horizontally. The fluid positionality carries on throughout the exhibition in the way Semmes toggles between abstraction and figuration, digital or painted illusionism and IRL, pitchers and stilettos, dressed and undressed, power and vulnerability. Here Semmes levels the playing field, using her favorite models along with long-coveted fabrics, shapes, objects, and patterns as fodder for an unhinged formalism. Her restless process of cutting and pasting leads the way.

This exhibition closes 6/1/24.

May 252024
 

There are many little stories within Sascha Mallon’s lovely installation for Wolf Tales, on view at Kentler International Drawing Space. It includes sculptures and drawings, with pieces emerging from the walls. Each little section captures the imagination.

The press release below includes a poem by Erich Fried, as well as a more detailed discussion on the artist’s motivations and process.

WOLF TALES

“It is madness
says reason
It is what it is
says love
It is unhappiness
says caution
It is nothing but pain
says fear
It has no future
says insight
It is what it is
says love
It is ridiculous
says pride
It is foolish
says caution
It is impossible
says experience
It is what it is
says love.”
– Erich Fried

This installation synthesizes the artist’s engagement with drawing, glazed porcelain, and mohair silk crochet yarn, bringing all these elements into one monumental work that flows around the edges of the space. For Wolf Tales, Mallon is going back to her roots of drawing after being actively engaged with molding, firing, and glazing porcelain objects. In this exhibition she is primarily a draftsman on a quest, mirroring the main heroes of the story as they go through transformations. Going back to drawing in this more monumental format signifies for Mallon her long-cherished wish of making this method more dynamic, forgetting its static nature, and allowing drawings to flow.

The titular wolf is an ambivalent embodiment of spirit and energy that is at first at odds with a human presence of a girl and then goes through a series of spiritual and physical changes, inner and outer shifts. In his newly published autobiographical book, Japanese author Haruki Murakami devotes significant attention to how a narrative of a novel shifts when characters are presented indirectly versus being contemplated from within their own mind-frame. In her drawings for this exhibition, Sascha Mallon likewise changes the degree of her engagement with the heroes and heroines whom we see. Themes of belonging, sustainability, mistrust, loneliness, and connection are based on narrative points presented through figures of a human girl, a wolf, a raven, and others. Yet Mallon uses her subtle drawing skills to connect disparate parts of the narrative so that we can subconsciously see the connections and let the story unfold in our own time. The tale we see is one that stays with a viewer long after they leave the space. Drawing in motion is what this presentation underlines, tying all the elements together in one mandala directly drawn on the wall by this practicing Buddhist. The drawings are airy, frequently working with and playing with a negative space.

As do many artists, Mallon creates narratives based on issues she faces in her life, and as a Buddhist she thinks often about one’s perception of reality, how we create reality, how we can make a better world by changing the mind. She is fond of questioning rather than responding, leaving spaces for stillness and freedom for the viewers. Mallon’s body of work does not develop from project to project, it is one big story that keeps changing and transforming itself. To an observer, it is more of a conversation that she continues having with herself by visual means, artistic practice presented as a gestational thought process. You do not know where it starts and where it ends; it is fluid and dynamic.

As a story, Wolf Tales also develops on multiple planes and in multiple temporal frameworks. It is not a fairy tale, but rather an artistic representation of ideas and feelings, thinking through the poem by Erich Fried, which has occupied a special place in Mallon’s life for many years. Out of all of these narratives and feelings, she weaves characters and stories in the way that fairy tales do. There are no solutions. It’s about what is happening with our lives and our emotions, and it is complex. In the seminal analysis of fairy tale structure that Vladimir Propp published in 1927, the author outlines seven main characteristics important for a fairy tale (Zaubermärchen ): miraculous helper, miraculous spouse, miraculous adversary, miraculous task, miraculous object, miraculous power or gift, and other miraculous motives. In our time we need to emphasize the importance of miraculous, which could be understood to mean harmonious, compassionate, human.

Mallon is not a research-driven artist, as what we see on the walls is transmitted (or unearthed?) through sitting still and reflecting upon dharma talks and her work as a resident artist at The Creative Center at Mount Sinai Hospital. Working with people who have limited capacities affects Mallon, bringing an existential degree to her contemplation of humanity, anger, attachment, and suffering. A native of Austria, she studied art therapy, but ultimately developed her own intuitive technique of drawing and sculpting in order to perfect what she needed to say. This self-taught quality and a certain remoteness from the official and often overtly commercial art system creates a space for honesty, deep engagement, and compassion in Mallon’s works. Being informed by the understanding of larger and more painful experiences influences one’s ability to look at life. Mallon’s life informs her works and vice versa. Even with her patients she tries to find the healthy part and work with it.

Miraculous is an element of the drawings around us. Sascha Mallon offers to bring each of us home, just as a wolf and a girl who are tied in an ambiguous, but ultimately symbiotic relationship are able to do. What is the alternative if we turn away instead of looking into each other’s faces? Compassion is an essential part of Mallon’s work, a quality that we see less and less of in the polarized society of today’s United States. For the artist, an enemy that is initially perceived on the outside turns out to be an enemy on the inside. In this story, the lines get blurred, become vague and nonessential: you don’t know any more if it’s describing a girl or a wolf. Yet the hope of the artist is that through her heroes we are able to move toward peace rather than confrontation.

—Nina Chkareuli-Mdivani is a Georgian-American curator, writer, and researcher living in New York.

This exhibition closes 5/25/24.

May 252024
 

Peter Opheim has created a charming, colorful world for Cocoon at The Hole. It’s worth bending down to get a closer look at the little clay creatures that helped form the basis for the characters in his paintings.

From the press release-

After a 25-year career as an abstract painter, Opheim started anew; “since everything we see in the world around us has already been painted”, a family of imaginary creatures and Opheim’s career-defining style was born. His works are an intuitive manifestation of emergence: sculpting the figures first in clay, Opheim removes roadblocks to his imagination. Working intuitively with his hands, the creatures reveal themselves to him and he then paints “from life”.

Not focused on conveying a snapshot of our contemporary world or visual markers of the present day, the sculptural approach to making the subjects of the paintings results in works that exist out of time—the characters are transient yet grounded in subdued color fields, their bodies and borders ambiguous and hazy. In Meadow of My Heart, Holding You and others, multiple figures fill the canvas, an assortment of semi-recognizable parts from a few fuzzy friends fill the canvas, cat-like ears, skinny arms or blobby bodies, with many large eyeballs blinking. In paintings such as Thinking of You a lone figure presents themselves, staring right back at you.

Rather than conveying grandiosity, Opheim instead is in the pursuit of emotional impact. The exhibition includes smaller paintings than ever before, making viewers look closely and the textural brush strokes more prominent. In the large rear gallery, small sculptures are positioned on the floor, barely visible from the other side of the room and dwarfed by 17-foot ceilings. Above the paintings, large woven flowers climb the length of the wall, further figures revealing themselves at the base of the stems: a sense of coziness and protection settles in with clay figures nestled in a small wooden home carved by a fallen tree on his property in Taos, New Mexico.

For this recent body of work there is a shift to a different type of subtlety based on concepts of emergence, interconnectedness, and growth. The title Cocoon is a multifaceted metaphor for these themes, as when a caterpillar spins its body transforming into a chrysalis and cocoon, it is surrendering to transform. This emergence can’t be expedited; patience and independence are crucial, a butterfly must emerge on its own. In the work we see an emergence of form, skillful blurred brush marks of creatures in a softer, hazier palette than when we first showed Opheim in 2018 and an emergence of emotions, a warm joy, the sensation of standing in the sun. These new paintings were difficult to make, notes Opheim, with the figures only starting to reveal themself once the painting was close to completion. Opheim notes the importance of an intuitive organic emergence: “we can have preconceptions on how something is supposed to be, but that’s not how they are made”.

Standing In The Sun, I Feel Your Arms Around Me the title of one of the larger paintings in the show and one of the potential titles for the exhibition, evokes the physical warmth that you feel in these paintings. The hues and figures are inviting yet the asymmetric, spherical bodies have just enough wonkiness to not be classified as overly “cute”. Opheim has shown extensively in Asia where Kawaii culture is widely pervasive and appreciated: New York is known for many things, but cuteness would not be one of them. While foreign, Opheim’s visual language feels refreshing and necessary, inviting curiosity and play through imagery we don’t often see in Western art. Here, Opheim is deliberately moving on from a lot of what we see in galleries at the moment and instead gives us enough room to think on our own, leaving space for our own joy and pleasure.

 

This exhibition closes 5/25/24.

May 242024
 

“The Water-Bearer (Version 20)”,2024, Acrylic, charcoal, colored pencil, graphite, ink and marker on canvas with collage

“The Water-Bearer (Version 20)”,2024 (detail)

“The Fish (Version 20)”, 2023, Acrylic, colored pencil, graphite, ink, permanent marker and oil-based permanent marker on canvas with collage

“The Fish (Version 20)”, 2023, (detail)

Tomorrow (5/25/24) is the last day to see Edward Holland’s mixed media zodiac paintings, At the Bottom of the Celestial Sea, at Hollis Taggart. The layers of color and the collaged items combine to form fascinating portraits of the astrological signs, while also hinting at larger themes.

From the press release-

Edward Holland’s zodiac painting series, which he started creating in 2014, are inspired by the many dimensions of zodiac signs from the astronomical to the astrological and the mythological. Holland incorporates the linear geometry of a zodiacal constellation in each painting, using this as a kind of framework onto which he collages printed papers ranging from notes from his neighbors and poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti to maps and doodles created by his two daughters. Holland then builds on this foundation with graphite and paint, at times scribbling out the words on the printed papers, and at others layering expressive brushwork – usually incorporating the color associated with the given zodiac – in what resemble fragments of Abstract Expressionist paintings. The resulting works are almost like abstracted portraits of each zodiac, inviting the viewer into a game of excavating their many layers of meaning.

To take one example, The Archer (Version 18), 2024, is scaffolded by the constellation of Sagittarius rendered in purple and anchored by moments of bold yellow, which is complementary of the color attributed to the zodiac. Partially hidden beneath layers of paint are instructions for how to bandage a wounded leg as well as anatomical drawings of legs, nodding to Sagittarius’ association with lower limbs. Peeking through at the center of the canvas is the signature moustache of Frank Zappa, the legendary musician and composer born under the sign of Sagittarius. Each painting contains dozens of such zodiacal associations – some more obscure than others, with certain material so painted over that it is no longer visible to the viewer. While it may seem that Holland would search for such reference material intentionally, he only ever uses materials he finds on the street or which is shared with him by friends and family. This adds a sense of wonder to the works, as the material has come to the artist through serendipity.

For more on the artist and this series, Artnet recently visited him in his studio to discuss his work and process.

 

May 222024
 

Pictured above is Frank Stella’s 1986 work, La vecchia dell’orto, on view at Columbus Museum of Art, part of New Encounters: Reframing the Contemporary Collection of the Columbus Museum of Arta reinstallation of the museum’s contemporary galleries.

About the work from the museum-

In the 1960s Frank Stella began creating paintings with a composition of lines that closely followed the shape of the canvas. These works often resisted any sense of depth, but in the following decade, Stella would go on to create exuberant works like this, composed of brightly painted cones and other shapes that extend beyond the surface of the rectangle behind it.

The title of this work, like others in his Cones and Pillars series, is taken from an Italian folktale in which a mother’s only daughter is kept by a witch as payment for a cabbage she stole from the witch’s garden.

Stella’s practice was always evolving. In his most recent large painted sculptures, currently on view at Deitch in NYC, you can see how he expanded on the concepts he was working with here.

May 192024
 

Ann Schaumburger, “Silver Moon in Darkened Sky House”, 2023, Flashe on wood

Ann Schaumburger

Ann Schaumburger

The three exhibitions currently on view at A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn all focus on homes in unique ways. In the first gallery, Ann Schaumburger’s paintings of houses for New Work continue her exploration of color.

From the gallery-

For over fifty years, Schaumburger has used the house as a basic structure—a scaffold—for exploring how colors interact with one another. Schaumburger builds her houses with blocks of four pigments, using stencil brushes and tape to fill each house with modular forms. Influenced by the theories of Josef Albers, Schaumburger’s approach to color is meticulous yet playful. Different colors dazzle and dance when placed in proximity, creating a sense of surprise.

The paintings in this new body of work depart from Schaumburger’s earlier explorations in one key detail: the houses are now mounted on wheels. This choice was inspired by Schaumburger’s reading of the biography of Henry David Thoreau, whose family had attached wheels to their domicile, allowing them to transport the house across different sites in Concord, Massachusetts. “The idea of taking a solid house, attached to the ground, and letting it roll away,” Schaumburger says, “seems both comical and deeply suggestive of our times.”

Schaumburger has described her color choices as an attempt to “solve an aesthetic problem.” Yet the work is not entirely abstract. Titles like Forest House Under Summer Sky and Moonscape Moving House gesture toward the fact that certain color relationships become evocative of different seasons, places, and times of day. All of the paintings in the exhibition feature a crescent or small globe in the upper left or right quadrant. Sometimes, this globe is rendered in metallic gold or bronze, recalling the sun. Other times, it is a lunar silver. The round shape of the globe mirrors the house’s circular wheels. Just as the earth rotates around the sun, the wheels rotate around their own axles, allowing the house to move.

The wheeled house becomes a spirited metaphor for Schaumburger’s practice. Dynamic rather than stationary, it embodies the liveliness and energy of Schaumburger’s color choices, as well as the open-ended nature of her process.

Roberta Dorsett’s photos for Sleepwalking explore isolation and uneasiness in her family’s suburban home.

Roberta Dorsett, “Sleepwalking”

Roberta Dorsett, “Sleepwalking”

Roberta Dorsett, “Sleepwalking”

From the gallery-

Dorsett’s Sleepwalking is a series of photographs examining isolation in the suburbs and how a sense of danger often accompanies seemingly idyllic environments. The work depicts three women, Dorsett’s aunt, her cousin, and Dorsett herself, occupying the shared space of a suburban home in Connecticut. Tension arises from the camera’s interaction with the women. The camera acts as an intrusive person, an interloper, and a voyeur as it captures the women in moments of discomfort and vulnerability.

In Dorsett’s previous work, she took on the role of family historian, photographing moments of in-betweenness that result in candid and uncontrived images. Her obsession with taking photographs of her family is driven by their lack of extant family albums or other visual documentation. Because of the family’s socioeconomic status, photography was considered a luxury and only done for special occasions. Moreover, Dorsett’s mother had to leave behind her family’s photographic history when she immigrated from Jamaica to the United States.

Dorsett initially intended Sleepwalking to be a straightforward documentation of her aunt and cousin’s experience as first-time Black homeowners. But she found herself drawn into the project’s narrative and began photographing her family in a more constructed and story-driven way, drawing inspiration from slasher and horror films. Dorsett captures the visceral thrills of these types of films by continuing to utilize her family to explore the concepts of voyeurism and anxiety. The single-family home, once a symbol of milestone achievement, now becomes a surreal site of both safety and terror. As she stood behind and in front of the camera, registering the uneasiness and distress of these three women inside their home, Dorsett dreamed up a distorted reality and asked herself, “Am I awake or sleepwalking?”

Finally, Denisse Griselda Reyes multimedia installation for Did you have a hard time finding me?  explores home and identity using a combination of original artwork and family archives.

Denisse Griselda Reyes, “Did you have a hard time finding me?

Denisse Griselda Reyes

From the gallery-

Featuring short films and familial ephemera alongside a new body of paintings, this exhibition humorously meditates on questions of self-formation, reparative representation, and archival preservation, inviting us to dwell in the absurdity these ambitions unintentionally generate. This is Reyes’s first solo exhibition in New York City.

Presenting what Reyes has called a “maximalist constellation of memory,” the exhibition juxtaposes materials from their family archives with paintings and multimedia projections within an installation space that recalls, yet does not perfectly reproduce, the domestic interiors of Reyes’s family. Anchoring this exhibition is a short film that ties together two threads. First, the border crossings of Reyes’s grandmother Anita that were necessitated by the peril of the Salvadoran Civil War, and this history’s impact on Reyes’s mother. Second, the queer dating life of Reyes’s indignant and savvy alter-ego, Griselda. Part-narrator, part-drag-persona, part-survival-strategy, Griselda offers Reyes a means to dictate the terms of their own representation against the expectations that constrict queer Latinx artists in the United States. Still, Griselda is also beholden to identitarian demands. Reyes allows their avatar to straddle the line of spectacle, flirting with failure, acknowledging that self-formation might be an impossible endeavor. By juxtaposing Griselda’s exploits with the narrative of their grandmother, Reyes interrogates whether familial, social, and historical processes have the final word on what generates a self.

Reyes has produced Griselda as a mediating figure—one who negotiates their own identity between femininity and non-binary gender, and who personifies the absurdity of any singular narrative of origin. In its plenitude and play, the exhibition exceeds the ostensible facticity of the familial and historical archive. Featuring new paintings that hazily recreate family photographs, a vitrine full of childhood teeth that parodies genres of museal presentation, screens that toggle between home videos and the simulation of archival footage, and striking blue-green walls that recall the past domestic spaces of Reyes’s family in El Salvador, the exhibition transforms processes of preservation into acts of mythmaking. The exhibition is less a recreation of the artist’s family’s domiciles than a space of critical reflection and ambiguity. Guests are invited to join in this meditation—and may find their own notions of selfhood implicated as a result.

These exhibitions close 5/19/24.

Apr 252024
 

Alyssa Lizzini, “Industrial Valley”, Ink and acrylic on paper on panel

Alyssa Lizzini, “East 41st”, Ink, acrylic, and found object on paper and panel

Alyssa Lizzini, “Unraveling City”, Ink and acrylic on paper mounted on 2 panels

Akron Soul Train is currently showing two exhibitions by Ohio artists. Alyssa Lizzini’s The Universe Between Here and There, pictured above, expands upon scenes from daily life using a mixed media approach. The works take the viewer into her expanded sections of the city, and encourages them to think about what may be unobserved in their own daily life.

From the gallery-

In The Universe Between Here and There, Alyssa Lizzini explores the interwoven connection between space, time, and memory through large-scale, multi-layer drawings. Lines, grids, maps, and data become the stars, black holes, and supernovae of an ever-expanding universe of memory. Using ink, acrylic paint, and collaged paper, Lizzini creates overlapping images that seem to compress space and time yet simultaneously fly apart or implode. Her drawings suggest that memory unravels in much the same way and investigates the almost inseparable connection between person and place.

“Drawings explore both my own personal histories related to remembered places and broader histories recorded through archival, ethnographic, and visual research of city spaces…The scale of [my] drawings allow the viewer to feel immersed in each piece, surrounded by swirling and morphing cityscapes, memory objects, and natural elements. They ask the viewer to consider the many layers of context not immediately visible in our urban world, and give a new language for understanding the ever-changing nature of memory.” – Alyssa Lizzini

Akron Soul Train Artist-in-Residence Melih Meric’s uses traditional Middle Eastern patterns to explore identity.

From the gallery-

Meric uses a traditional approach to their imagery through sacred geometry and explorations of Islamic geometric abstraction. Challenging traditional presentations of print editions, Meric’s print work crosses the borders of the paper. It highlights an expansion of patterns like Middle Eastern tiles. It also speaks to queerness without being explicitly queer. Stitched Editions: Exploring the New poses integral questions surrounding erasure and identity in Middle Eastern communities. Meric’s craft lies in creating wall-hanging objects that play between the realms of dimensionality while still being unmistakably paper. Their work acknowledges and is proud of its dimension, speaking certain truths to multiple minority groups.

“My work deals with making peace with a part of my culture that drove me to leave it. Finding beauty in design and simplicity, then creating systems to complicate those principles. I fell in love with printmaking and the idea of multiplicity when I first made the connection to tiles from the Middle East. It suddenly became a tool to create and expand patterns that challenge traditions in crafts.” – Melih Meric

Melih Meric, “I Think I Remember Something, Nevermind”, “Stitched Edition” of 12 linoleum prints

Melih Meric, “Carnation”, “Stitched Edition” of 36 woodblock prints

Melih Meric, “Carnation”, “Stitched Edition” of 36 woodblock prints (detail)

Melih Meric, “Swept Under”, “Stitched Edition” of 8 silkscreen prints

Both of these exhibitions close 5/11/24.

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 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.