Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Sublime Symbiosis


Sublime Symbiosis 

Old Delhi - Jama Masjd

Others in their World

A Synnoetic System (detail)

A Synnoetic System

Synnoetic Systems - 7

Synnoetic Systems - 6

By Tom Wachunas 

   “In creating these works I combine our most advanced digital tools and processes with ancient traditions of making. This series represents a world within our world; an unseen world at the edge of our perception, at the edge of what our most advanced tools are able to measure…The driving force behind the work for me is always to make the work as beautiful, sensual, felt, and sometimes whimsical as possible, regardless of media.”  - Gregory Little

EXHIBIT: Parallel Worlds – Mixed Reality Artwork by Gregory Little / at The William J. and Pearl F. Lemmon Visiting Artist Gallery, located in the Fine Arts Building at Kent University at Stark / 6000 Frank Avenue NW, North Canton, OH / THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 / Gallery Hours Monday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Reception and Gallery Talk – THURSDAY September 23 - 5:30 p.m.

From Merriam-Webster/  Symbiosis (sim-bē-ˈō-səs- )  = the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms; a cooperative relationship

   I am agape. Agog. Amazed and awestruck. Flabbergasted and gobsmacked. Did I mention impressed?

   So this is when an art gallery can be more than a typical art gallery. Right now, The William J. and Pearl F. Lemmon Visiting Artist Gallery at KSU Stark is a spectacular junction. A magnificent experiential crossroads. A compelling  nexus of the micro and macro, the mystical and mundane.

   The 32 works in this exhibit - ranging in scale from hand-sized, to pieces more than 5’ tall (as in the Synnoetic Systems series) or the 7’-wide A Synnoetic System - consist of mixed media paintings, collages, and archival digital prints.  They combine hand-ground pigments with digital elements and processes. Also included is a non-looping digital animation of endless evolving DNA splices, and a 12-minute animation set to a composition by the renowned composer Jeffrey Mumford.

    Not long after he was hired to teach painting at Kent Stark in 1989/90, Gregory Little, who currently teaches digital art at Lorain Community College, embarked  on a path to learn everything necessary to make virtual reality artworks.  “I stopped painting and devoted myself to this task for eight years,” he explains, “and succeeded in learning about all aspects of VR (virtual reality) to make and exhibit my own virtual worlds.  Now I have returned painting to my toolkit, but also use all that I have learned to produce a variety of digital assets that I use and reuse across a range of mediums.”

   Little’s works certainly aren’t conventional scenes or pictures of objective, familiar realities. To fully look at them is to be willing to engage a state of mind and be drawn into contemplations of indeterminate depth. It is to enter evocations.

   The striking Synnoetic Systems pieces, for example, are named after a term coined in 1961 by computer scientist Louis Fein to describe what he had called the “…symbiosis of people, mechanisms, plant or animal organisms, and automata into a system that results in a mental power (power of knowing) greater than that of its individual components.”

   Little has translated this concept into breathtaking, multidimensional panoramas. They’re blissfully dense with infinitesimal details. Otherwordly indeed. The stratified minutiae of organic particles and shapes, whether clustered in groups or individually floating within supernal networks of fibers and filaments, all seem to oscillate and glow, as if shot through with bursts of colored light from many distant suns.

    The art of Gregory Little is a wondrous navigation of the longitudes and latitudes of visual perception itself, and an otherwise astonishing spiritual adventure. Might this be what Nirvana looks like?

Saturday, September 11, 2021

In Memoriam: 911


In Memoriam: 911

By Tom Wachunas 

   Ten years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to be included in a group show at downtown Canton’s Anderson Creative (later named Translations Art Gallery), guest-curated by Dr. Fredlee Votaw. Some of you readers may remember the exhibit. It was called “The Persistence of Memory” – commemorating the 10th Anniversary of 911. Here’s a link to my comments on the exhibit from back then:

   So here we are once more immersed - thanks largely due to the towering medium of television - in our recollections of 911, twenty years later.

   And here I am likewise immersed. Not only in remembrance of an overwhelmingly tragic event, but also in recollections of making my contribution to that 10th Anniversary exhibit - a sculpture, nearly 5’ tall, called Window on the World. The process was a long one, evolving through about 10 weeks during the summer of 2011, and one I continue to think of as a series of daily meditations and a season of protracted prayer.

   It started with purchasing, then gutting (removing the heavy picture tube) a big, used Magnavox television from a Salvation Army store. An eery serendipity, this finding a Magnavox TV. Magna vox, Latin for “great voice”.  Next, building a wood pedestal. Then faux-painting those forms to suggest the marble or granite finish of an elaborate gravestone - a funereal totem.

   The protracted prayer element commenced when I began to handwrite a litany - the names of 2,977 people - on to 41 sheets of white paper, on each page three columns of names. As I scrolled down the online list I found of all those who perished, one name at a time, I touched the desktop screen, offering aloud each name to God as I wrote it onto paper. I made photocopy reductions of those 41 pages, finally cutting them into thin vertical strips that I glued to the inside walls of the hollow TV shell, arranged to perhaps suggest the metropolitan skyline of NYC.  

   Even as I type this now, in this moment at my computer desk, I can hear my TV in the living room, broadcasting the reverential ceremonies transpiring at the 911 Memorial in lower Manhattan.

   Television. Tell a vision. In this moment, I am praying yet again. Looking through this window on the world. Here, but for the grace of God…

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

3D Menuscripts


3D Menuscripts 

Cozy Coupe (oil on canvas)

Hoover Concept II (oil on canvas)

Running Late

Jamie's Hand

Our House Cafe

Glass Rack 1 & 2

By Tom Wachunas


“Art should be literally made of the ordinary world; its space should be our space; its time our time; its objects our ordinary objects; the reality of art will replace reality.” – Claes Oldenburg


EXHIBIT: 86’d – work by Daniel McLaughlin, at VITAL ARTS GALLERY /

324 Cleveland Ave NW , in downtown Canton, Ohio / Gallery Hours: Wednesday 4-8pm, Thu-Sat 6-10pm / THROUGH OCTOBER 16, 2021

   From the posted exhibition statement: “86’d is a series of contemporary works created by Canton artist Daniel McLaughlin. The collection is inspired by his career in restaurants spanning 20 years, and the often overlooked objects and materials in the service industry…Large scale, non-traditional canvas structures with emphasis on three-dimensional elements…Painting and sculpture combine various plywood, paints, and finishes to create these minimally representational and playful works of art.”

   So, Pop Art meets Minimalism? Here’s a truly fresh and fascinating salad, if you will, of big, wall-mounted mixed-media sculptures, along with three oil paintings. But first, there’s the terse yet conceptually loaded title of the show, 86’d. 

   While the precise origins of the term are unclear, the most frequently cited history of the expression relates to the restaurant industry of the early 20th century. By the 1930s, many restaurants in the U.S. were using ‘86’ as a shorthand code for “not available,” or “we’re out of this item.” Other anecdotal tales mention Chumley’s, a legendary bar in New York City located at 86 Bedford Street, where rowdy patrons were routinely thrown out the door, and where they no doubt took notice of the large 86 overhead as they were carted away by the cops. This came to be called “being 86’d.”  Other associations are military in nature, such as Article 86 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, handling soldiers who have gone AWOL. The code was also used in reference to enemy planes shot down during the Korean War by F-86 fighter jets.

   McLaughlin recently shared this observation with me: “…I wasn't sure how well known the term is to people that haven't worked in the industry.  But 1986 is the year I was born so I felt that was a good fit being that a lot of the work is self representative.  And on certain days and times I feel out of myself (depleted) in a way, as do others across, I think, any industry.  But in contrast to that, doing this work was really motivating and energy- giving.”

    In some ways, McLaughlin’s intriguing works here can be regarded as 3D pages from a personal journal, or a surrogate self-portrait. Some of the pieces include flattened accumulations of seemingly countless handwritten guest checks and meal orders sealed into the surface of the plywood forms. These are gathered records of his and fellow workers’ time on the job - menu mementos, customers’ appetites recalled… the prosaic graffiti of restaurant stewardship.

   Considering the well-publicized negative impact of COVID trauma on the restaurant industry, it is just a little ironic that this show doesn’t really feel so much like a sad 86-ing as it does an honest, even optimistic affirmation of a livelihood built on the materialities of culinary service.  

   Call it metaphoric food for thought, and energy-giving at that.