Monday, March 7, 2011

A Superb Chronicle of a Pioneering Year

A Superb Chronicle of a Pioneering Year

By Tom Wachunas

Say what you will about the utilitarian values of archived texts and images on the internet. For my money, nothing will ever satisfy quite like the visual, tactile, and even olfactory delights of holding a real, new book. All the better if it has pictures.

In anticipation of the immanent release of the very affordable, first Annual Catalog of the 2010 exhibitions at Anderson Creative (published by Anderson Creative, hardbound $39.95), I reserved a space on my bookshelf, and in the process did a quick inventory of my small but treasured collection of such catalogs. Among my favorites is “Van Gogh in Saint-Remy and Auvers,” from an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City) in 1986-87. The book still has the power to re-kindle all the fiery enthrallment I felt when I first saw that major exhibition. And isn’t it the effective recapitulation of the original exhibit’s essence that makes the best exhibition catalogs so rewarding?

Granted, the Van Gogh catalog is a hefty, 320-page tome from a world-class institution, and Anderson’s is certainly, with 79 pages, modest by comparison. But it is no less elaborate and successful in encapsulating all the adventuresome spirit of engaging, provocative originality that marked the gallery’s remarkable exhibitions of last year. In his foreword to the catalog, ArtsinStark CEO Robb Hankins calls the Anderson gallery an “…amazing locale – the edgy urban space we’ve all been waiting for.”

‘Adventuresome’ spirit’? Yes, and surely pioneering. In the still burgeoning Canton Arts District, Anderson Creative has built an eminently unique venue, founded on the consistently passionate and innovative efforts of owner Kevin Anderson and curator Craig Joseph. After reading the introductory letters from each of them in the opening pages, you could call this volume, on one level, a lovingly composed ‘thank you’ to the artists, viewers, and patrons who have supported their vision. It is a vision to mount exhibits that are, as Joseph tells us, “community-based, highly collaborative, wildly conceptual, and highly immersive and experiential for the audience.”

As for this beautifully constructed catalog, “immersive and experiential” are indeed the operative terms. The artwork photos were taken by Anderson Creative, except where noted, and all are clear, crisp, and true. Jessica Bennett, who designed last year’s exciting “Stark Arthology,” has once again brought her substantial talents to the fore here (in same-size format), and designed a visually stunning and refreshing month-by-month journey through the year’s shows. For those who missed seeing one or more of them, the catalog is nonetheless a scintillating, vicarious journey, each page a vibrant record of the original event.

Printed on the back cover is this quote, “Art is a reminder of things we are inclined to neglect.” Don’t neglect this one, as in many ways it’s an artwork in its own right. And like the marvelous shows it documents, it has a pulse.

The Anderson Creative Annual Catalog is due to arrive at the gallery (331 Cleveland Avenue NW, Canton, Ohio, 44702) later this week, with other outlets yet to be confirmed as of this writing. Gallery hours are Wednesday – Saturday Noon to 5 p.m.

1 comment:

Sohan said...

Sohan T.