Friday, September 18, 2020

Grateful Again to be Included


Grateful Again to be Included 

By Tom Wachunas


   I’m thrilled and grateful that one of the fruits of my Covidian labors will soon be available for your in-person tasting. Writes of Passage, a mixed-media assemblage/collage I completed in May, was accepted into the upcoming annual Stark County Artists Exhibition. I originally wrote about this piece in an early June post at


    Here’s the shorter statement I submitted with my entry:

I’m feeling battered by media images of urban crowds on the march, waving protest signs scrawled across chunks of corrugated cardboard, brandishing angry words like so many swords raised high.

   Amidst such verbal chaos, I savor the transfixing experience of reading the Bible. The book of all books, God’s words. Books are codified rites of passage through time - accumulations of 2D planes imprinted with symbols of the writer’s intentions, desires, perceptions.

    In Writes of Passage, my appropriation of four of Michelangelo’s Sibyls  – females  from the Classical world who were thought to prophesy the coming of Christ – presents the figures in varying states of clarity. My incorporation of Biblical texts (in English and Greek) is a meditation on the  immutability of Scripture, and a consideration of Jesus’ words spoken in the book of Matthew, “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”


   And here’s the info (submitted by Massillon Museum) about the exhibit:

The Massillon Museum, 121 Lincoln Way E, will display the Stark County Artists Exhibition from Sept. 26, 2020, through Jan. 17, 2021, in the Aultman Health Foundation Gallery.

The exhibition will be displayed during regular museum hours from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 2 to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Stark County residents whose artwork will be exhibited include Seth Adam, Rodney Atwood, Diane Belfiglio, Jess Bennett, Todd Bergert, William Bogdan, Chris Borello, Lindsey Bryan, Heather Bullach, Therese Cook, Ann Cranor, Frank Dale, David Dingwell, Laura Donnelly, Drew Dudek, Kathleen Gray Farthing, Gerald Fox, Sharon Frank Mazgaj, Pamela Freday, Rob Gallik, Charity Hockenberry, Bruce Humbert, Judi Krew, Timothy Londeree, Priscilla Sally Lytle, Nicole Malcolm, Tina Myers, Patricia Zinsmeister Parker, Mark Pitocco, Kathy Pugh, Sydney Richardson, Priscilla Roggenkamp, Sari Sponhour, Mischief Tish, Stephen Tornero, Christopher Triner, Tom Wachunas, Jo Westfall, Gail Wetherell-Sack and Dyanne Williams.

A VIRTUAL RECEPTION will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 via Facebook Live. Exhibition award winners, including Best in Show, second place, third place and honorable mentions, will be announced during the event. The People’s Choice Award will be announced at the end of the exhibition.

Artwork submitted for consideration must have been created within the last two years. The panel of independent jurors selected 57 works by 40 artists from 164 works submitted by 66 artists.

The Stark County Artists Exhibition has been held at the museum since 1934.

For information: 330-833-4061

Monday, September 14, 2020

Mulligan's Curiouser Elsewhere


Mulligan’s Curiouser Elsewhere

Let Us Die Together

Intergalactic Creature Control

The Emperor

In the Skies Above Japan

Cumulus Ascension

Mother Nature

By Tom Wachunas


  “Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.”  - Francisco de Goya

 “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory.”  - J. R. R. Tolkien

 “Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso

   “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass


   EXHIBIT: Work by Erin Mulligan, at The Hub Art Factory, 336 Sixth Street NW, downtown Canton, THROUGH SEPTEMBER 22, 2020 / viewing hours on Tuesdays 7:30p.m. to 9:30p.m., or by appointment – contact email / (330) 451-6823

   Erin Mulligan is an astonishing observer of… the world. She’s an ardent and prolific reporter on its animate and inanimate forces. The question is: What world is she reporting, and were exactly is it?  

   You could call her an ardent visual journalist, telling stories about places and circumstances where communing with heretofore preposterous creatures and circumstances is a way of life. In her hands, a paintbrush is practically a mythical tool - the proverbial sorcerer’s wand. With it, Mulligan doesn’t just render familiar realities, albeit with her remarkable command of Flemish technique. She calls the impossible into being. She deconstructs rational, common worldliness, and conjures spectral realities from the intoxicating ether of her robust imagination.

   Her paintings are often tiny windows with a view on large incongruities. In this place – call it Elsewhere - rabbits might have fangs, breathe fire, or morph into frogs. Cats might grow wings; fish swim in the air or parachute into fiery battles; humans could have spider legs, or birth alien parasites. Or they might even grow lichen on their faces in a symbiotic bonding with the natural world, as in Mulligan’s recent Mother Nature. The gently smiling woman cradles a cute brown bunny. Another eerie Elsewhere? Even the air itself in these locales can seem like equal parts sparkling fairy dust and smoky ash.

   And speaking of smoky, among the more recent pieces included in this compelling mix of old and new paintings are “pyrographs” – drawings on wood panels made with a heat pen, such as the lovely portrait, Let Us Die Together. The sheer manual skill required for carefully burning marks into the wood surface with such a device must be especially daunting. Mulligan’s remarkably sensitive handling of the tool produced exquisite, pastel-like subtleties of tone.  

   So now, let me dare to go down the rabbit hole of finding meaning and relevance. Is all the Baroque-ish, chimerical whimsicality in so many of the paintings here really a metaphor - an embrace of the dualities, the non-sequiturs, the absurdities (whether delightful or vexing) in our current world? In the end, Mulligan’s Elsewhere - even at its most uncanny - and our Here and Now, may well be one and the same. Curiouser and curiouser.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Changeable Weather in a Shifting World


Changeable Weather in a Shifting World

Tender Rescue

Eternal Management Program

Slumbering Monk

Hero Earth

Approaching the Shift


By Tom Wachunas

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”  - Albert Einstein

“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.“ - Rainer Maria Rilke

“In order to make progress, there is only nature, and the eye is turned through contact with her.” - Paul Cezanne

“… Everything has a vibration, thoughts have a measured frequency and everything around us started as a thought. … We are connected to everything and everyone as a conscious part of nature. The shifting world of 2020 is flooding our conscious and unconscious lives…Ultimately, the work is my service to make known the natural world’s spiritual and energetic connections to us.”  - excerpted from the artist statement by Judith Brandon


   EXHIBIT: APPROACHING THE SHIFT- DRAWINGS BY JUDITH BRANDON /   THROUGH OCTOBER 25, 2020 / at the Canton Museum of Art / 1001 Market Avenue North, Canton, Ohio 44702 / 330.453.7666 /  Hours: Tues. – Thurs.  10:00am-8:00pm, Fri.-Sat. 10:00am-5:00pm., and Sun. 1:00pm-5:00pm /  Timed ticket reservations required in advance to visit the Museum.  Get your ticket reservations  at  


   Judith Brandon’s statement (excerpted above) that “…everything around us started as a thought…” speaks volumes about the arc of her aesthetic.  Her words brought me right back to Genesis, and the consideration that all of nature – earthbound and celestial - was thought, then spoken, into being: “Let there be…”

   There’s a palpable spirituality resonant in Brandon’s drawings, written, as it were, with ink, charcoal, and pastels on incised printmaking paper. These sprawling, dramatic panoramas are compelling visual meditations. On one level, they speak of dynamic energies and powers at work on land, in the sea, and across the sky, all caught up in spectacular states of variable light and weather. On another level, you could rightly think of that variability as a metaphor for the forces at work in the realm of human consciousness – and conscience. As nature is the sublime deliverer of forces that can afflict or heal, destroy or grow, so too the changeable weather of the human soul, particularly in this current season of societal tension and distress.

   The considerably large scale of these drawings effectively imbues them with an immersive, even transcendent lyricism. So yes, come close enough to read the Brandon’s written thoughts provided for each piece. Then come closer still to read, to connect with, all those marvelous subtleties of rendering – the earthy textures, the luminous hues, the rippled layers of  atmosphere, both transparent and opaque. Gravitas and grace, turbulence and calm, harmony and dissonance.

   All the visual elements in Brandon’s works seem to vibrate, as if possessing the mesmerizing tremolos of an operatic aria. You might even hear their stories as well as see them. I don’t believe they’re only drawings. They’re songs.