Wednesday, January 6, 2010
By Tom Wachunas
Consider the following as promotional announcements about two upcoming, exciting arts events. But first, some introductory thoughts.
It’s not that I feel in any way guilty about casting ArtsinStark in an unflattering light lately, considering my past comments about that entity’s part in hoisting bad public art on to the walls of downtown Canton. Besides, when it comes to presenting public art in this town, the powers that be apparently revel in the arguable if not ludicrous idea that generating public dialogue (no matter how negative or heated) is the sole endgame of public art. So you can rest assured I intend to keep stoking that fire as long as the decision makers’ good artistic sense and sensibilities continue to be an evasive commodity. Enough of that for now, though. For the remainder of this entry I hereby forsake the critic’s hatchet –which I’m sure some might view as curmudgeonly kvetching- favoring instead to focus on more praiseworthy things.
The fact of the matter is that in several other areas of presenting and disseminating the arts in our community, ArtsinStark has been an effective, edifying force for the last few years. I sincerely wish continued success for its visionary efforts, particularly in the realm of arts in education, i.e. the SmArts program. So I highly recommend checking out ArtSplash, a celebratory event to be held at the Cultural Center for the Arts (1001 Market Avenue North, Canton) from 11a.m. to 3p.m. on Saturday, January 23. The family-friendly event is free, and will feature a wide and wild array of things to see and do, including viewing the current crop of marvelous exhibits in the Canton Museum of Art. Visitors will be treated to demonstrations by participating SmArts schools wherein teachers offer take-home lessons for parents and caregivers to use in integrating arts with academics. There will be “make-n-take” art projects from the Canton Museum, Canton Symphony, and Players Guild Theatre, among others. Also included will be presentations on the Great Court stage by Canton Ballet, Canton Idol, Ananda Drum Circle, Green High School Ensemble, Silver Star Youth Theatre, and TENEO (from Malone University). Food will be available for purchase, and the parking is free. Make a day of it and warm up to the arts.
And now I indulge once again in that pesky, shameless self-promotion. Well, not exactly SELF-promotion. More like promoting an ongoing project of mine – curating the exhibits at Gallery 6000. As I’ve mentioned in the past, this gallery, located in the very elegant dining room of the University Center on the Kent State University Stark campus (6000 Frank Avenue NW, North Canton), is an atypical venue for pictorial art. Since it’s a full-service dining room designed to serve the many meetings and seminars that transpire in the building, it’s not an art establishment in the normal, commercial sense of the word. You can’t necessarily walk in any time you like to view the art. The building is open from 8am to 5pm weekdays, and you should call ahead (330-244-3300, or 330-244-3518) to confirm when the room is open for viewing on any given day. I highly recommend that you simply attend the opening reception for the artists in the next exhibit on Tuesday, January 26 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.
The show is called “Abstractitudes,” and features the work of four very accomplished Canton-area painters whose work I greatly admire: Gene Barber, Martin Bertman, Aaron Hubbard, and Isabel Zaldivar.
Collectively, these four artists present a range of distinctly painterly languages - from pure abstraction to less extreme departures from objective reality.
Gene Barber’s recent canvases seethe with physicality, largely a result of his bare-hand application of paint. Elaborate in gestural quality, his paintings elevate the notion of finger painting to compelling levels of emotional nuance.
Martin Bertman’s expressive paintings are, on one level, lovingly executed explorations of several 20th-century stylistic influences. Apart from those influences, however, all of his images exude a loose, confident immediacy that is uniquely personal, along with an astonishing color sensibility.
Aaron Hubbard makes paintings that address what he calls “…the energy, activity, diversity, and potentiality of human practices and relationships.” Fueled by his interest in science fiction and poststructuralist philosophy, his images present an enthralling, abstract vision of interacting forces.
Isabel Zaldivar is clearly inspired by traditional representations – landscapes or still lifes, for example- though rarely confined by them. Like the Impressionists and Expressionists, she revels in the physicality of paint, and achieves marvelously textured surfaces that function within her larger “scenes” as delightful, intricate microcosms of abstraction.
I will surely be writing more on this exhibit. In the meantime, I hope to see you all at the opening. If you’re planning on coming, please RSVP Becky DeHart at 330-244-3518 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: “O’Keefe’s Desert,” acrylic on canvas, by Martin Bertman