Friday, June 7, 2024

In the light of gratitude


In the light of gratitude

My Bio, by Patricia Zinsmeister Parker

Sleep It Off, by Joe Ostrowske

Connections of Belonging, by Mary Crane Nutter

Untitled, by Susan Wilkof

Crying in the Light/Illuminated Distress, by Jo Westfall

Embers, by Heather Bullach

Eclipse, by Emily Orsich

By Tom Wachunas 

“The substance of painting is light.” – Andre Derain

“In nature, light creates the color. In the picture, color creates the light.” – Hans Hofmann

“To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”  - Robert Schumann 

EXHIBIT: Exploring Light and Darkness – group show featuring work by Emily Orsich, Heather Bullach, Jo Westfall, Joe Ostrowske,Mary Crane Nutter, Patricia Zinsmeister Parker, and Susan Wilkof / at Strauss Studios, 236 Walnut Ave. NE, downtown Canton, Ohio/ Viewing hours: Mon – Fri 10am – 5pm, Sat 12 – 5pm – Closing reception on Friday June 7, 6-9pm

   Let me cut to the chase. As of this writing, the closing reception for this provocative exhibit is just a few hours away - FRIDAY JUNE 7, 6 – 9p.m. (though I’ve been informed that unsold works will remain on view through June 14).

   With this way-too-late (and short) blog post, beyond commending the remarkable works by all seven artists in this exhibit (most of whom I’ve written about in the past, and some quite extensively), I simply want to go on record as thanking and praising Strauss Studios for the ever-consistent excellence of the contemporary art presented in all its exhibits.

   This venue is an inspiring and impactful resource, indeed a treasure, as it continues to provide vital formal and conceptual depth to Canton’s cultural profile. What resonates most personally for me is its ongoing affirmation of what I like to call the ethos of life enrichment through art. It’s an active continuum of call and response. Art calls us all – makers and viewers alike - to be engaged with the light of being alive. If Strauss Studios isn’t currently on your list of local must-see art destinations, cut to the chase and make it so.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Reading the insides out, below the betweens


Reading the insides out, below the betweens 


On Reflection




Fired Up

Beneath the Surface


By Tom Wachunas 

“…the layers of a painting challenge us to explore its depth and seek to understand the mystery — urging the hidden things to come forward and reveal themselves. What's beneath the layers, in our paintings or in our lives? What would we find hidden there, if only we could remove all that obscures it? That mystery is one I enjoy exploring and expressing in my work.”  -Tom Delameter

“Energy and motion made visible – memories arrested in space…The thing that interests me is that today painters do not have to go to a subject matter outside of themselves. Most modern painters work from a different source, they work from within.  ― Jackson Pollock


   EXHIBIT: Depth of Feel - Paintings by Tom Delameter, resident artist at Patina Arts Centre/ 324 CEVELAND AVENUE NW, downtown Canton, Ohio / THROUGH JUNE 8, 2024 / Current Gallery viewing hours:  Thursdays 12 – 8p.m., Saturdays 5 – 9p.m., also 5 – 9p.m. on the last Friday of every month, plus every Canton First Friday 5 – 9p.m.

Palimpsest (noun):  a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain; something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface / something such as a work of art that has many levels of meaning, types of style, etc. that build on each other.

   On in his website (hyperllnk posted above), Canton painter Tom Delameter tells us, “I would say I'm a self-taught artist, but that's not totally accurate. More like life-taught. Which is okay. My artistic expression began to come out later in life…”  In the process, he was attracted to Abstract Expressionism. I’m sure he was lured by what he calls “…its emphasis on spontaneous, personal expression over traditional techniques or subject matter.”

   Which is to say that on one level, the subject matter claimed and embraced by many abstract expressionist painters, such as the mid-20th century trailblazer, Jackson Pollock - and many other adherents to his aesthetic - is the process of making the painting itself. It’s painting about… painting. That process ceased being a traditional exercise in imitation of natural reality, or illusionism, becoming instead a discrete performative action. Call it an improvised confluence of intent, intuition, and chance. The old tyranny of representational imagery was usurped in favor of articulating a uniquely more personal energy.

   I don’t mean to imply that Delameter’s brand of abstraction looks a lot like Jackson Pollock’s sublime messes of drips and poured splatters. Far from it. For starters, Delameter’s acrylic works in his current series, which he collectively calls Depth of Feel, are on a scale considerably smaller than Pollock’s commanding enormities. That said, there’s still a kinship between the two. You could consider them maybe second or third cousins in terms of how they distribute an “all-over” variety of gestures and marks that cover the painting surface. That distribution, however, appears comparatively more structured and rhythmic in Delameter’s paintings, imbuing many of them with a distinct sense of verticality.

   The scale of his works is such that they aren’t intimidating environments that overwhelm your physical field of vision so much as they invite quiet meditation and introspection. They’re not dizzy dance floors where paint has been flung at high velocity (à la Pollock). Rather, in all their accumulated layerings and gesticulations of the painter’s hand, Delameter’s intimate canvases strike me as ornamented symbolic writings of a kind. Palimpsest metaphors, if you will. These are flows of consciousness, states of mind or conditions of heart which over time emerged, were altered, and/or covered up, and/or redefined.

   They’re not just paintings about painting as a performative act. They’re also about you, the viewer, and your own performative action of looking with intent as well as intuition. So look closely, look long. Read between the lines. Feel the depth.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

A Hearkening of Mythicals and Mysticals


A Hearkening of Mythicals and Mysticals


Divine Union, by Kimberly Blankenship

Devouring the Sun, by Crystal Robinson

Eclipse from the Other Side of the Moon, by Tom Delameter

Penumbra, by Tim Eakin

You're Only Made of Moonlight, by Bella Feliciano

Celestial Masquerade, by Carri Cleveland

Lacuna, by Alaska Thompson

By Tom Wachunas 

“The reappearance of the crescent moon after the new moon; the return of the Sun after a total eclipse, the rising of the Sun in the morning after its troublesome absence at night were noted by people around the world; these phenomena spoke to our ancestors of the possibility of surviving death. Up there in the skies was also a metaphor of immortality.”  - Carl Sagan

EXHIBIT: UMBRA – a collective perspective / at PATINA ARTS CENTRE, 324 Cleveland Avenue NW, Canton, Ohio / THROUGH APRIL 27, 2024 / Gallery Hours: Final viewing on Saturday April 27, 5pm – 9pm

Featured Artists include Kat Francis, Peyton Hopp, and David B. Martin, as well as work by Chris Cook, Erika Katherine, Sam Lilenfield, Zach Finn, Tom Delamater, Tim Eakin, Bella Feliciano, Maizy Jade, Rylee Lovelace, Melissa Goff, Dr. Demon, Carri Cleveland, Heidi Fawver, Monte Arreguin, Ben Sandy, Tessa LeBaron, Kimberly Blankenship, Justin Randall, Chrystal Robinson, Julianne Nipple, Alaska Thompson, Andy Tokarsky, Carri Cleveland, Kaley Weaver, Madi Miller

Umbra (noun) – 1 (a): a conical shadow excluding all light from a given source - specifically : the conical part of the shadow of a celestial body excluding all light from the primary source. (b): the central dark part of a sunspot.  / 2: a shaded area


   Where did I leave off? My time and memory were temporarily…eclipsed… by events not of my making. Ahhh… yes, in my April 15 post here, about that other eclipse on April 8, with these closing thoughts: “…Art allows the events that befall us, whether common or rare, whether of our own making or not, to be ever-present, well beyond their time and place of origin.”

   Once again, art has been ‘allowing’ - this time at Patina Arts Centre. With sincere apologies for this literally last-minute commentary, the current show ends today, on Saturday, April 27.

   The total solar eclipse we witnessed on April 8 reminded me of how often I’ve embraced the megacosm as a grand, created allegory – the ultimate artwork - symbolizing an eternal theatre production, or a dance, unfolding across the stage of infinity. Think of our solar system as a small component of a cosmic dance/theatre troupe numbering countless performers. In this scenario, our earth and moon are in effect tiny dancers - a duet - constantly moving in and out of the spotlight we call our sun. But as April 8 so powerfully demonstrated, what a spectacular and mesmerizing pas de deux! Let me be so bold as to suggest that the playwright/choreographer of this celestial performance is a singularly supernatural being with limitless power.

   It's certainly not a new idea. Many ancient peoples theorized that the heavens were dwelling places of multiple spirits - deities and demons - and their offspring, the planets and stars, where the fates of us mere humans were written and carried out.

    This marvelous exhibit is a diverse, celebratory collection of illustrated insights, intuitions, and fantasies, all at once mythical and mystical.  Here the beatific and the beastly collide or coalesce, passing from light into darkness, or darkness to light. From the delightfully sparkling rhinestone rumination of Alaska Thompson’s Lacuna, to the electrifying fusion of laughter and tears in Carri Cleveland’s Celestial Masquerade; from the elegant balance and harmony of Kimberly Blankenship’s Divine Union, to the devilish strangeness of Bella Feliciano’s You’re only made of Moonlight; from the searing gaze of the turbulent sun flanked by icy blue Zodiac critters in Tim Eakins’ Penumbra, to the eerie gray quiet of Tom Delameter’s ghostly Eclipse from the Other Side of the Moon. And there are more, many more.

   The same Spirit who staged the aforementioned, most perfect mixed-media performance artwork ever conceived and unsurpassable in its sheer magnificence – namely The Universe – left a piece, a spark, of himself in every human being. In those we perceive as artists, we call that spark creativity, or inspiration. I sense that the exhibitors here weren’t just making art only about an outer space event so much as probing their own inner spaces. In the process, they effectively invited us viewers to do the same.

Monday, April 15, 2024




Ladders to the Sky, by Emily Vigil

Starlight, by Iszy Ucker

Rare December Moon, by Clare Murray Adams

Just a Phase, by Tom Delameter

Eclipse, by Orenda Meraky

My Big Night Sky, By BZTAT

Celestial Totality, By Bztat

We are Stardust, by Sally Lytle

By Tom Wachunas

“…Art moves us to experience nature and scientific phenomena with emotional depth in a way that reaches beyond its scientific narrative. Through art, we are moved to engage with nature and scientific phenomena on a level that transcends mere facts, reaching into the realms of heartfelt connections and emotional resonance…” – from the artist/curator statement by Vicki Boatright (AKA the artist BZTAT)

EXHIBIT: CELESTIAL- Exploring Cosmic Curiosities in Art / at Canton Creator  Space/ BZTAT Studios Gallery, 730 Market Avenue S., Canton, Ohio / THROUGH MAY 24, 2024 / Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11:00a.m.-5:00pm., Saturday 12:00-5:00p.m.

Participating artists: Clare Murray Adams, BZTAT, Brenda Case, Tom Delameter, Laura Hollis, Sally Priscilla Lytle, Iszy Rucker, Keeli Serri, Sarah Shumaker, Scott Simler, Emily Vigil, Tom Wachunas, Chris Wurst.

   You may recall my post here from March 30, regarding my newest artwork.  I made it specifically for inclusion in this engaging group show which was in turn originally motivated by a truly cosmic drama – the total solar eclipse that riveted our regional attentions on April 8. In case you missed reading my thoughts, feel free to click on this link:

   Meanwhile, here’s an invitation to re-direct your attentions to the other artworks on view at Canton Creator Space. Forging their own paths of totality, so to speak, the participating artists have delivered a delightful and  impressively eclectic range of appreciations for things celestial.

   One of BZTAT’s paintings, called My Big Night Sky, looks something like a birthday cake, decorated with icing in rainbow colors and textures of candied curls and clusters, floating like so many stars amidst a scripted message: My Night Sky You are So Big and I am so small. I look up at you. All seems Quiet and Still. I paint you as though you are Noisy. Are You Real? Am I? A child’s sweet meditation? Yumm. Tasting the universe with awe and wonder.  

   A black(s)- and- white acrylic painting by Tom Delameter, called Just a Phase,” is imbued with all the stark, documentary matter-of-factness of a satellite photo. Yet in all of its dark simplicity, the picture is nevertheless dramatic, powerful in its compositional elegance, and alluring in its capture of a stunning, splintered arc of blazing light.  

   What I find especially compelling (and beautiful, in its strange way) about Clare Murray Adams’ mixed media painting and collage, Rare December Moon, is its enigmatic nature. I’m moonstruck by its mystery. Here’s an all-at-onceness of things in the process of becoming both revealed and hidden, present and covered over, of materials seemingly sewn together, then disintegrating. Maybe this isn’t so much an illustration or picture as such, but more a codified visual poem about answers as well as unanswerable questions.

   The ambitious, hovering sculpture by Iszy Ucker, called Starlight, is a monstrous blossom that hangs down from the ceiling. A glittery flying conTRAPtion. Ucker tells us in her statement that she was inspired by carnivorous plants such as Venus Fly Traps and their ability to lure prey. She compares the position of viewers standing under it and looking upward to that of stargazers. ”Once in position,” she writes, “they will be in the mouth of the beast and will soon be consumed.”  Consumed, we can certainly hope, by our insatiable curiosity.

   Sally Lytle’s arresting abstraction, We are Stardust, is, like the solar eclipse itself, a dramatic, ephemeral moment loaded with magical lyricism. Here’s a human form and face, fused with, but then emerging from, a celestial occurrence of light obscured by darkness and shadow. I read Lytle’s  painting as a symbolic declaration of hope for ”the human condition.” Our light can be temporarily dimmed, but never wholly extinguished by circumstance. The light. Always the light.

   Considering the overall theme of this exhibit, Emily Vigil’s painting, Ladders to the Sky, is surprisingly small – about 4” x 2” I’m guessing. Call it microcosmic. So grid and bear it – this palm-sized snapshot, this tiny totem.  In the grand panoply of astral phenomena across the known universe, what we saw in the sky here on April 8 was, comparatively speaking, a miniscule, albeit mesmerizing, episode.

   In its distinctive smallness, Vigil’s piece remains after all a large reminder, as is this show in general. We make art for its wondrous potential to let us remember and savor everything about our very aliveness. What we see, what we feel, what we touch, and what touches us. Art allows the events that befall us, whether common or rare, whether of our own making or not, to be ever-present, well beyond their time and place of origin.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

A Sublime Respite Revisited


A Sublime Respite Revisited

Succulent Shadows II

Illuminated Bench II

Ascent with Geraniums

Articulated Agave V

By Tom Wachunas

“…But the transcendentalism by which all men live has primarily much the position of the sun in the sky. We are conscious of it as a kind of splendid confusion; it is something both shining and shapeless, at once a blaze and a blur…” – G.K. Chesterton

EXHIBIT: The Artists’s Legacy – Posthumous Exhibit of works by Diane Belfiglio / At John Strauss Furniture/Studio Gallery, 236 Walnut Ave NE, Canton, OH / Gallery hours: M – F 10a.m. to 5p.m – CLOSING RECEPTION ON FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Here’s a link to Diane’s gorgeous website so you can visit and be reminded of her brilliant work:

   Much of what you’re about to read in this post is from my memorial thoughts about Diane Belfiglio posted here in March of 2023. But first, I offer my deepest THANKS to John Strauss for his continuing vigilance, vigorous promotion, and excellent exhibitions of truly significant contemporary artists - local and otherwise - and their engaging visions at his gallery space.

    When I learned of the sudden passing of Diane Belfiglio in March of last year, my sorrow over her departing our midst was, as it was for many of us, utterly numbing.  But soon enough, the compelling essence of her shining aesthetic cut through the billowing clouds of sadness. I thank God for her impact as superb artist, beloved friend, teacher most excellent, colleague most encouraging. She was, and remains, an altogether inspiring creative force in our community. Here are some of Diane’s words about her work:

   "I was educated in a professional art world that has been characterized by its shock value, biting social commentary, and 'in-your-face' commercial images. In contrast to that world in which I was raised, I am simply endeavoring to create in my art a respite for our weary souls…. No matter the subject or medium, my work is firmly grounded in the formalist ideas that have interested me since my beginnings as a professional artist: closely cropped images bathed in the interplay of pattern between sunlight and shadows. Although realistic in presentation, I rely heavily on the underlying abstract qualities of my forms. Shadows, ethereal by nature, take on a rigid structural aspect in my compositions. Colors range from brilliant to subtle in an effort to reproduce the strong sense of sunlight streaming through each piece. My goal is to transform the mundane into the extraordinary, so that we see beauty in images that generally go unnoticed by most of us on a daily basis.”

    I was always thrilled to write about Diane’s work over the past 25 years. So I offer you this edited composite sampling of past comments from numerous reviews.

   I’ll always see Belfiglio’s oeuvre as something akin to one hand firmly caressing earthbound materiality, the other channeling through it the warmth and movement of light. The ethos of her work is a see-worthy vessel that remains buoyant and sturdy in turbulent waters – intact and unabashedly beautiful in our splintered culture too often floundering in pointless pop junk and ugly sensationalism. Hers are contemplative, mindful visions for our thoughtless times. As such, they are acts of bravery, courage and love on canvas or paper. Woven into the arresting formal elegance of her pictures is a consistently tender, mesmerizing harmony of astonishing technical acuity and compositional lyricism that imbues them with the rarefied air of poetry. Call it all a constant rising to ineluctable light.


    If you’ve not seen this exhibit yet, there are still a few days left. Or come to the closing reception on Friday evening. Come see how the pedestrian, the ordinary, the mundane became the extraordinary, even the…sacred. Come look at bricks breathe, colors dance, shadows sing. And the light. Always, the light.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

In the Path of Totality


In the Path of Totality

By Tom Wachunas 

   I made my most recent mixed media assemblage, In the Path of Totality, in response to an invitation from Vicki Boatright (aka the Artist BZTAT) to participate in the group exhibit she has organized at her new gallery space, BZTAT Studios in Canton Creator Space. The show is called CELESTIAL: EXPLORING COSMIC CURIOSITIES, and intended as a celebration of the much- heralded solar eclipse happening on April 8. The exhibit opens tonight, March 30, from 5:30 to 8:30.

EXHIBIT: March 30 - May 24, 2024, at Canton Creator Space, 730 Market Ave. South / Canton, Ohio /

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11:00a.m.-5:00pm., Saturday 12:00-5:00p.m.

   I look now at the cosmos, the universe -   at least what very little of it I can actually see with my unaided eyes - as a created reality. Not a mind-boggling or science-baffling accident, not an inexplicable random event. But evidence, a glorious manifestation, of a wholly limitless, eternal power with a divine purpose and intent. A spiritual experience in itself. Call it a personal, gradual seeing of true light in its totality.

   So I painted on the slats of an ordinary functioning window blind to make simple images of both a darkened and a blazing sun, signifying a journey from light eclipsed into light fully realized. It’s a symbol of the cosmos, and meant as an iteration of conscious spirit, as well as a meditation on blindness and seeing.

   My piece is an interactive metaphor. I invite you as a viewer to gently twist the wand hanging on the left side of the blind to expose both states of the sun. As you do so, you’ll notice words written in red progressively coming into view on the board behind the slats. You might need to change your stance a bit, or adjust the angle of your gaze, or the tilt of your head as you read the words appearing between the slats. You could consider such adjustments a symbol in its own right too. What changes do any of us need to make in our efforts to clearly see a truth?

   Those red-written words - four verses, all taken from Scripture – are meant as a suggestion, if not an invitation: For the sun, read The Son.

There he was transformed before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as the light. -Matthew 17:2

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. -John 1:4-5 

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings…  - Malachi 4:2

For the Lord God is a sun and shield… -Psalm 4:11

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Attitudes and Latitudes - An Alluring Equipoise


 Attitudes and Latitudes - An Alluring Equipoise

A Union - by Romy and Marcy

By Marcy Axelband

Marcy Axelband

Marcy Axelband

Color Response, By Romy Anderson

Class, by Romy Anderson

70 - by Romy Anderson

By Tom Wachunas 

It's those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes /Nothing remains quite the same / With all of our running and all of our cunning / If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane.   Jimmy Buffet

Ooh, spare your heart. Everything put together sooner or later falls apart.  -Paul Simon

EXHIBIT: All The Colors in the Crayon Box – works by Romy Anderson and Marcy Axelband / THROUGH APRIL 5, 2024 / at Cyrus Custom Framing and Art Gallery, 2645 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton, Ohio / Viewing hours: Monday - Friday 10am – 6pm / Saturday 11am - 3pm /Closed first Saturday of the month and on Sundays / (330) 452-9787

From WIKIPEDIA: “In the manufacture of cloth, warp and weft are the two basic components in weaving to transform thread and yarn into textile fabrics. The vertical warp yarns are held stationary in tension on a loom (frame) while the horizontal weft… is drawn through (inserted over and under) the warp thread…” 

   Romy Anderson’s tantalizing woven wall pieces explore juxtapositions of very colorful grid configurations in varying scales, wherein warp and weft form intricate patterns and micro- textures. In her statement for the show, Anderson tells us that these works reflect her love for organization, mathematics, and creativity. She describes her methodology as “… working with double weave and introducing hand woven techniques such as supplementary weft in combination with a loom-controlled structure. The use of hand-woven techniques allows me to play with color interaction and disruptions in the pattern. When creating disruptions in the pattern I can keep the viewer intrigued in my work through the order and disorder of pattern.”

   I was intrigued indeed by the confluence of apparent opposites. What Anderson calls “disruptions in the pattern” are subtle fusions of formulaic structures with unpredictable interruptions, or stasis counterbalanced with undulating movement. Formal visual harmony and symmetry are conditions most impactful when woven into a context of unexpected mutation. So here’s art as a metaphor, perhaps. Consider it an intricately constructed symbology of tactile lyrics, so to speak, about the warp and weft of …change. You might well think of them as evoking the shifting rhythms and rhymes, regular and interrupted, comprising the ethos of human life itself, sung with a truly tantalizing polychromatic effervescence.

   Complementing Anderson’s distinctive grid geometries are the riveting figural abstractions by Marcy Axelband. They too are invested with a compelling lyricism, as well as an attention to repeated, colorful rhythmic patterns of connected and free-floating shapes, sometimes suggestive of grid motifs. But it’s always human faces that are front and center here. In Axelband’s statement, we read, “Having always been enamored by faces, my work characterizes what they say, what they do not, how they portray their stories of joy and difficulty, peace and sadness, delight and thought. They are playful and serious. They fill me with wonder for the creative process…”

    I first encountered large paintings by Marcy Axelband more than 15 years ago and always admired the facile expressionism of her style. For this series of smaller-scaled pieces on raggedy-edged handmade paper, she chose to use markers, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, graphite, and pen, noting in her statement that “…paint is much more forgiving than markers – which was both frustrating and a challenge.”

   And now? Challenge met, with electrifying results. Her mixing and layering of different drawing media – all the colors in the crayon box, as it were – imbue her pictures with a variety of subtle patinas and saturations that make the surfaces seem to breathe and have a pulse.

   Axelband’s mark-making possesses all the vigorous immediacy and quirky simplicity you might find in a child’s drawing. Eschewing any refined artsy illusionism, it’s just this sort of robust, unfettered naïveté that has the uncanny effect of making her figures, ironically enough, all the more real and relatable.  

   So I read the faces as representing a sprawling diversity of people and their possible narratives, immersed in a stunning panoply of psychic and emotional states we associate with simply being alive.

   And those eyes. Their eyes. Some tranquil, others troubled, some mirthful, others melancholy, some wise, others dumbstruck. Wide or narrow or shadowed or bright. For as much as they look in at themselves or each other, they look out. At us. Or beyond. We look back at them. And see…us.