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 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 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 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.