Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Commendable Community Assets

Commendable Community Assets

By Tom Wachunas

   “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”  - Albert Einstein 

   “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”  - Henry Adams 

   “I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”  - John Steinbeck

    EXHIBIT: Mastery: Teachers from the CMA School of Art , THROUGH JULY 23, 2017, at the Canton Museum of Art, 1001 Market Avenue N, Canton, Ohio /  330-453-7666 /
   From the Canton Museum of Art News Release:
Canton Museum of Art (CMA) presents a community-focused exhibition Mastery: Teachers from the CMA School of Art. This new exhibition of local artists is on view now through July 23, 2017 and features ceramics, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and more. The teachers at the CMA School of Art are inspired by many things when they create, yet they are also motivated to share their passion and knowledge with others. CMA teachers ignite that much-needed creative spark within their students in a broad range of media and styles…More information about the CMA School of Art is available at

   What follows is just a partial list of works I found particularly remarkable in this otherwise dynamic and engaging group show.

   There’s nothing overly ponderous or forbidding about the cityscapes by Ted Lawson, one of our region’s most accomplished watercolorists. With a remarkable synchronicity of fluid, lustrous color and sparkling light, he achieves an uncanny ethereality and ebullience in the way he conveys the urban milieu.

   Complementing the visceral, eye-popping abstract paintings by Allison Uhl are the oil paintings by Frank Dale, something of a legend in these parts. Amid all the sheer wildness we can regularly encounter in contemporary painting, he remains a passionate devotee of the Old Masters, specifically of the Flemish technique. Call his works charming anachronisms if you will, they are nonetheless hauntingly beautiful.

   There’s a haunted quality, too, in Shroud #1, and Portrait of Karolina, oil works by Kit Palencar – the former with its literally veiled reference to vanitas  paintings of old, the latter a rendering of a dripping, maybe burned face fading from view. Nearby is Rosemary Stephen’s Pendant, a mixed media on fiberglass wall hanging that’s eerily reminiscent of ancient Egyptian Fayum portraits. And Laura Kolinski-Shultz’s Shaman is a breathtaking pit- fired stoneware sculpture that looks like cast bronze, and seems interestingly enough right at home with the current major CMA show on view, Avatars.
   Elsewhere in ceramics, there’s Bound Geometry by Kim Eggelston-Kraus. It’s a fascinating, free-standing sculpture wherein an industrial-feeling architectonic form is merged with more organic, curving forms. An elegant harmony of opposites.

   The infamous line from George Bernard Shaw’s 1903 play, Man and Superman -  “…those who can, do; those who can't, teach…” - is usually regarded as a cynical or disparaging assessment of the teaching profession. As if to say, in this context, teaching is a lesser practice than making. Nonsense. I don’t know the extent to which any of the artists here actually make a total living out of making their art. But that doesn’t matter in the least. And I’m in no position to rightly assess the overall quality or ultimate effectiveness of any of them as teachers. What we need to first remember, though, is that teaching art is itself an action, a real doing, every bit as important and yes, noble and inspiring, as dragging paint across a surface or building clay forms or making a drawing or print or… You get the picture. 

   As experienced individuals who teach what they practice, the artists in this exhibit provide a service of incalculable worth to Canton culture. So thank you, Canton Museum of Art, for giving them a vital platform.

   PHOTOS, from top: Rush Hour II, by Ted Lawson /  Still Life with Kiwi, by Frank Dale / Shroud #1, by Kit Palencar / Pendant, by Rosemary Stephen / Shaman, by Laura Kolinski-Shultz / Bound Geometry, by Kim Eggelston-Kraus

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