Thursday, May 28, 2020

Bittersweet 16: A Renaissance Diminished

 Bittersweet 16: A Renaissance Diminished

   Announcement  from ArtsinStark  -  Immediate Release: The Closure of Avenue Arts Marketplace

   It is with heavy heart that ArtsinStark announces the closure of the gallery of Avenue Arts Marketplace. For 16 years Second April Galerie and then Avenue Arts were the heart of the Canton Arts District. Through the tireless efforts of countless artists who have shown their work and been in residence, the space at 324 Cleveland was a living arts center. The ArtsinStark staff has worked very hard to keep the flame burning, but with reduced sales and the latest wave of closures due to Covid19, the space is no longer financially viable.

   With the closure of the gallery space, the theatre will live on housed at the Education Center at the Cultural Center for the Arts opening tentatively with “Spring Awakening” in September. While we will miss our visual artists in residence at the 324 Cleveland space, we look forward to the new opportunity to grow the theatre program and the continued excellence of Avenue Arts Theatre.

   The community will get one last chance to visit and shop with us on Friday, June 5 from 4-9pm during Canton First Friday. You can also shop online now through June 5 on the website at

   Between 2006 and 2008, I reported on the arts in Stark County for a short-lived weekly newspaper called The Observer-Reporter, published out of Jackson Township. On April 12, 2007, the paper published my article titled A renaissance in downtown Canton. It was an enthusiastic look at the early stages of what came to be called The Canton Arts District.

   The article ended with the words of Robb Hankins, president and CEO of ArtsinStark: “The people and companies who want to move here or stay here want to know that when they go to our downtown, there’s some vibrancy and a place to hang out. So there’s this whole arts and entertainment image and feeling, and things feed off one another if you’ve got enough critical mass. In my mind, that’s economic development. I have a feeling that this summer in downtown Canton, it won’t all be in place yet, but it will be the beginning of enough critical mass.”

   As summer 2020 approaches, I’m thinking that what comes around…goes away. Critical mass diminished. Heavy heart indeed, thanks for the memories.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day, 2020- O'er the Land of the Free

Memorial Day, 2020: O’er the Land of the Free

   Recalling my small painting, The Untied State of America, from October, 2017. At that time, I wrote very briefly about the work here, referring to it not as “political art,” but simply as a prayer. I asked then: What do we stand for, when, and in whose presence?

   The question still burns, as it always will - a torch that won’t be extinguished. So on this day, in circumstances here and now most vexing, I offer you just a few additional, though urgent thoughts. United, we stand. In praise and loving remembrance, in gratitude and grace. Untied, we kneel in the mind of God, and in the eternal, infinite light of his promise to those who love him.

   “…For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,”… (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

   And, …Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020



By Tom Wachunas

   “…Drug names often contain subtle linguistic cues that are the product of a high-stakes creative exercise that marries the magic of marketing with consumer psychology and scientific testing….”
- Amy Nordrum, from her article in International Business Times (6/24/15)

Here’s a link to the article:

portmanteau - noun

port·man·teau | \ pȯrt-ˈman-(ˌ)tō  

plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux\ pȯrt-​ˈman-(ˌ)tōz  \

1: a large suitcase

2: a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (such as smog from smoke and fog)

   One of the many reasons offered by big pharmaceutical companies for the staggering retail prices of prescription medications has to do with recouping (or anticipating) the high cost of continuing research, development, and of course, marketing. Somebody has to pay for all those riveting, state-of-the-art television commercials about drugs with funny names, usually accompanied by innocuous music, and gently narrated with cautionary litanies of side effects, including a reminder to tell your doctor about any other medications you’re currently taking (just in case he or she has forgotten), even though you (and maybe your doctor?) can’t remember how to pronounce, much less spell them.

   Who comes up with this stuff anyway? Professionals. And we pill-poppers contribute to their paychecks. If you’re of a mind to click on the link above, you’ll read that yes, there is supposedly a scientific protocol, an officially sanctioned rationale and procedure, for naming medications. It’s all a bit complicated, certainly. 

That said, I’ve often imagined drug companies having a designated office area with big fancy letters emblazoned on the entry door: Arcane Nomenclature Development, or Whacky Word Research, or Lunatic Locution Laboratory. How about Daffy Diction Department? Better yet, Pharma-Portmanteaux Administration.

   A fantasy. Let’s say I’m interviewing for a job in one of those imagined departments at, say, Johnson & Johnson, or Pfizer. To test my biomedical acumen, I’ve been asked to name some of their newest medicines. Here are some of my  answers:

    Guys, try AKTLYKAMAN for an energy supplement; for curing acne, ZAPAZIT; for eliminating those pesky aromas after an intestinal explosion, NEUTRAPHART; for obesity, LOOZALDAFLAB; for chronic clumsiness, ANTIKLUTZINOL; for sleep apnea, DOZALNITE; for foot fungus, TOZARCLENE. And so forth.

   “Thanks, but much too silly,” said the interviewer as he showed me the door, adding, “We’re very serious about our work here.” In my defense, I explained to him that the test had triggered another of my many HWS episodes – Hyperactive Wordplay Syndrome. I’m actually quite fond of the condition, though, and relieved to know there’s no pill for it.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Magical Emanations

Magical Emanations

Afternoon Landscape (04.27.20) Akron, Ohio

Afternoon Landscape, Long Lake Channel (05.20.19), Portage Lakes, Ohio

Afternoon Landscape, White Pond Crossing (05.03.20), Akron, Ohio

Afternoon Auto-Landscape, Club 611 (04.27.20), Akron

Afternoon Clouds over Club 611 (07.23.12), Akron

Afternoon Landscape, Copley Community Park (07.27.19), Copley, Ohio

By Tom Wachunas

   “All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” ― Susan Sontag

   “It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson

   “I can look at a fine art photograph and sometimes I can hear music.” – Ansel Adams

- all the images here are digital infrared photographs -  © Stephen Paternite

   More Spring gleaning, more virtual curating, in the spirit of my post here from May 7. During my Facebook browsing excursions of late, I’ve been admiring a significant number of black-and-white digital photographs by Stephen Paternite. He’s a prolific Akron artist who has been working in infrared photography since 1978. As an evolved photography technique, digital infrared is empowered with a particular sensitivity to light radiations beyond the visible color spectrum. A marvelous tool for seeing the otherwise unseeable.

   Amid the incessant showers of photographs saturating social media, the ubiquity of bright, clamorous color can sometimes feel numbing. In that context, it’s only at first glance that Paternites’s digital infrared black-and-white images might seem like curious incongruities – throwbacks to another era. Yet they’re actually a calming respite from the deafening polychromatic noise of the Internet.

   Look closely. Not at them so much as inside them. You might even hear them - veritable symphonies of dramatic tonal contrasts and exquisite textures. These impeccably composed pictures are spectral landscapes, or dreamscapes, if you will, emanating an immersive, crystalline light that transforms the familiar into something wholly enchanting and otherworldly.

   And it seems to me that beyond being a maker of beautiful photographs, Stephen Paternite is also a poet. Think of his work as optical writing - a wordless, arresting poetry - articulating the luminous persistence of nature’s quiet magic.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A Delightful Day Diversion

From my front yard, ARTWACH goes BIRDWATCH. Focusing on a few fabulous frequent flyers feasting on fast food is more fun than flipping through Facebook. Fancy that. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Some Spring Gleaning

Some Spring Gleaning

by Diane Belfiglio

by Robyn Wells Martins

by Jack McWhorter

by Doreen St. John

by Heather Bullach

by John W. Carlson

by Patricia Zinsmeister Parker

by Erin Mulligan

by Christopher Triner

By Tom Wachunas

From Merriam-Webster,  glean / ˈglēn

 intransitive verb

1: to gather grain or other produce left by reapers / 2: to gather information or material bit by bit

transitive verb

1a: to pick up after a reaper / b: to strip of the leavings of reapers - glean a field
2a: to gather (something, such as information) bit by bit - can glean secrets from his hard drive / b: to pick over in search of relevant material - gleaning old files for information

3: FIND OUT - The police used old-fashioned detective work to glean his whereabouts

  Planting time. The seed of an idea: Once this Covid crisis has eased enough, some ambitious soul(s) out there should seriously think about organizing an exhibit of works made by local artists working through this strange and stressful time of social distancing. A celebratory commemoration of resilience and productivity. A harvest festival. In the right setting, it could be a truly inspiring and stunning show.

   Meanwhile, consider this post a very modest exercise in virtual curating. My Facebook browsing has yielded many encounters with artists I’ve written about in the past. This gathering of digital images, all found in their recent Facebook posts, is certainly not an exhaustive look at what’s been pouring out of studios in these parts. It’s a love letter of sorts. Virtually yours, think of it simply as me being…grateful. Be well, everyone.

Friday, May 1, 2020



By Tom Wachunas 

   One of the most important things you learn from the Internet is that there is no 'them' out there. It's just an awful lot of 'us.' - Douglas Adams
   The Internet is neither good nor bad. It's neutral - it becomes for each of us exactly what we bring to it.  - Glennon Doyle Melton

   The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting.   - Dave Barry

   When the Internet first came, I thought it was just the beacon of freedom. People could communicate with anyone, anywhere, and nobody could stop it. - Steve Wozniak

   What’s the Internet? LOL! Why, it’s Pandora’s clever spawn, silly! – June Godwit

   More musings from my studio. I’ve been thinking about – fretting over, actually – sophisticated distance learning programs and remote instruction platforms as they necessarily apply to my current situation as a teacher of art appreciation and art history. At this point my brain is floundering in “the cloud” of Internet potential and practice. What is an old-school lecturer like me to do in the face of the growing demand for online teaching?

   At the moment, I’m making art about understanding another language I call Digitalese. And once again (as in the previous work I addressed here on April 21), I’m immersed in an assemblage/collage dialect. This newest manifestation is called #tangledweb. I’m seriously thinking of subtitling it html blues. HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language. Hyper- textured, and marked up, to be sure.

   I’m stepping slowly into a complex realm, twisting and turning in a mysterious matrix folding in on itself. It’s got me tied up in knots, a little unraveled at the edges, and feeling blue about it. Just like a jittery kid on the first day of school. How ironic.