Monday, December 12, 2022

Deck the Hall with Dickens


Deck the Hall with Dickens 

By Tom Wachunas

   “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”  Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

   THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, from The Players Guild Theatre, at Mary J. Timken Theatre in the Fine Arts Building of Kent State University at Stark, 6000 FRANK AVENUE NW, NORTH CANTON, OH/ Performances through December 18, 2022 / Box Office 330 – 244 – 3224 / Dates, tickets, and performance information at:

   Background, and cast/crew information at:

    As a consumerist society in a mad world, what practices have we adopted to truly honor and savor the who and the why of Christmas? Conversely, how many of us have become souled-out and surrendered to the what of the ‘holidays’ - namely all the feckless commercialism and trivial superficialities we routinely heap upon them? For the moment, let’s forget jolly old elves, Rudolf, and Red Ryder Range 200-Shot BB guns. For the moment, let’s celebrate the efficacious conflation of classic literature and enthralling live theatre as one powerful device by which we can embrace the essence of Christmas.

   To that commendable end, The Players Guild Theatre is currently presenting, for the 41st year, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This year’s exhilarating new production, in its new home, was adapted for the stage by  Beth Knox. The impressive scenic and authentic costume designs by Joshua Erichsen include meticulously rendered architectural facades and interior room sets that rotate scene-by-scene on an ingenious, large turntable. Beyond the luscious choral harmonies delivered by the Dickens Singers, the superb live music from the six-piece orchestra was arranged, composed and conducted by Steve Parsons, who also directed the amply talented cast.

  As the dark, sullen Ghost of Jacob Marley, Henrick Sawczak will sting you to your bones as he whips and cracks his heavy chains through the air and on the floor like bolts of lightning. Ashley Luli plays the Ghost of Christmas Past with charming, childlike innocence, imbued with a healthy dose of grown-up wisdom. Robert Trushel’s magnanimous Ghost of Christmas Present is all infectious ebullience until he leaves Scrooge on a very loud note of angry warning. As Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, Sam Marazita gives us a heartwarming picture of irrepressible optimism and willingness to love his unloveable uncle. Equally heartwarming are Matthew Heppe as Bob Cratchit, and Gabriel Amiot as his son, Tim, in their earnest and tender portrayals of high-spirited gratitude even in the face of cruel, humbling circumstance. All of the cast members – adults and children alike – perform with palpable, invigorating credibility.   

   Finally, then, Jim Graysmith’s presentation of Ebenezer Scrooge is an absolutely compelling embodiment of one man’s cathartic transformation from vitriolic misanthrope into lifelong disciple of selfless generosity and dispenser of joy. Even in the scenes when he’s not directly a part of the action, as he looks at the proceedings from a distance, we can still see clearly the sharpened, captivating expressions of genuine delight and wonder, or sorrow, or painful soul-searching on his face.

   In the 1843 introduction to his popular novella, Dickens wrote to his readers that he hoped his “Ghostly little book” would “haunt their houses pleasantly.” Did he have any idea of the urgency and relevance his story would still have nearly two centuries later? Talk about timeless storytelling.

    The Players Guild’s production isn’t about capturing the spirit of the tale only for the sake of feel-good entertainment. Call it a benevolent contagion, releasing that spirit into our active lives. The continued tradition of keeping this beautifully faceted, lustrous gem of a narrative shining is truly a necessary labor of love. Maybe all we should want for Christmas is to see more of us become redeemed Scrooges - instruments of hope, healing and light for those who desperately need it in an ever-darkening world.  

   Meanwhile, Thank You, Players Guild Theatre, for the blessing of your artful and inspiring agency in haunting our lives pleasantly.

Monday, December 5, 2022

With Eyes to See and Ears to Hear

With Eyes to See and Ears to Hear 

 …Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will… – Romans:12:2 

    Holy Season’s Greetings to all of you! Here’s my annual “Christmas image.”

    At one point in painting it, I thought very deeply about what the writers (scribes, actually) of the Gospels must have experienced as they wrote God’s own words. I am certain that the faithful scribe pictured here was utterly transfixed and forever transformed, filled with an indescribable joy and an awesome hope beyond words. This image represents John, a most beloved disciple of Jesus, in the midst of delivering (in Greek) what we read today in Scripture as John 3:16: 

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

Not a fantasy. Not a fiction. A fact. The perfect gift. The perfect peace and good will.


Saturday, December 3, 2022

Confabulations Extraordinaire


 Confabulations Extraordinaire

Sherri Hornbrook, (left) Honor, (right) Wings

Emily Vigil - Doing Dishes Together: Portrait of Us

Emily Vigil: Skipping Stones

Eleanor Dillon Kuder - Enduring Influence

Eleanor Dillon Kuder - Places She Called Home

Sherri Hornbrook -
 (clockwise from top left) Blossom, Departure, Nest, Pendulum

By Tom Wachunas 

  “Stop thinking about art works as objects and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences. What makes a work of art good for you is not something that is already inside it, but something that happens inside you.” ― Brian Eno

   “Nothing as drastic an innovation as abstract art could have come into existence, save as the consequence of a most profound, relentless, unquenchable need. The need is for felt experience - intense, immediate, direct, subtle, unified, warm, vivid, rhythmic.”   - Robert Motherwell

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. - Plutarch


EXHIBIT: CONVERSATIONS – paintings by Sherri Hornbrook, Eleanor Dillon Kuder, Emily Vigil / The Lemmon Visiting Artist Gallery, in the Fine Arts Building at Kent State University at Stark, 6000 FRANK AVENUE NW, NORTH CANTON, OH, THROUGH DECEMBER 9, 2022 / Gallery hours Monday – Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

   When it comes to paintings – whether making them, looking at them, or talking about them – I confess I’m an inveterate Romantic with an “unquenchable need.” Like many of us, I look for more than facile faithfulness to the familiar, or something more than skillfully rendered prosaic realism devoid of poetic spirit.

  The most compelling paintings aren’t just mute, decorative wall ornaments. They transcend static, generic images of mundane banalities. Rather, they’re events still forming, conversations still transpiring, or on the verge of commencing.

   Those conversations begin with the painters’ often intuitive methods for responding to their own mark-making - their storytelling, as it were. Such personal narratives are born out of a call-and-response process which evolves in real time across the picture plane.

    On one level, a “finished” painting is a private dialogue between marks and mark-maker. But the dialogue need not end when picture is mounted on wall. It can grow and expand when we viewers become third-party makers by virtue of our practiced, intentional looking. When we allow ourselves ample time to free our own intuitions, we can hear with our eyes. We can interpret messages or meanings as we see fit, or if not, find sublime contentment in savoring the potency of pure mystery. Either way, paintings can in fact speak in our real time if we imagine them first as inhaling our willful gaze, and then exhaling the “words” – indeed the life - of the painter. It is a powerful agency, stunningly present in this spectacular exhibit, bejeweled as it is with 56 works by three remarkable artists: Sherri Hornbrook, Eleanor Dillon Kuder, and Emily Vigil.

   Eleanor Dillon Kuder’s mesmerizing, mixed-media figural pieces are airy and mystical portraits of a kind, aglow with saturated, vibrant color. Recumbent or ascending women (perhaps self-portraits?) float, seemingly immersed in deep meditation, seeking or already embracing beauty at once electrifying and serene.

   There’s also an aura of meditation and spirituality in the soft chromatic translucency of Emily Vigil’s small-scale watercolors. In one series, her grid motifs of gently modulated colors are pixelated, in-the-moment flashes of personal encounters and memories. Additionally, there are equally elegant works from another series of compositions more directly representational in nature, called “Dishes Done.” These still-lifes from the kitchen are intriguing metaphors for intimate domesticity.

   Sherri Hornbrook’s canvases are dense, dazzling adventures. They breathe with both visceral and delicate painterly gestures amidst all manner of complex organic shapes and lines, rich color harmonies and dissonances that dance together, all enmeshed with intricate, pulsing patterns. Dichotomies united: finite with infinite, calm with conflict, light with shadow. The stuff of being alive.

   To Eleanor, Emily, and Sherri, thanks for talking with us. Your eloquence is enlivening.    

Friday, November 18, 2022





Take Care of My Flowers





By Tom Wachunas

“There is no shape to the feeling that has gripped me, no name. Manifested in amorphous sensations and rippling currents – bringing one moment a tear, then a smile; there is no comprehending this wave. A hummingness courses through my mind.”

― Radhika Mukherjee, from “Broken Shadows”

“Abstract art is uniquely modern. It is a fundamentally romantic response to modern life - rebellious, individualistic, unconventional, sensitive, irritable.”  - Robert Motherwell


EXHIBIT: Emily Orsich – First Solo Exhibit, at John Strauss Studio, 236 Walnut Avenue NE, downtown Canton, THROUGH DECEMER 16, 2022 / viewing hours Monday-Friday 10 a.m to 5 p.m / Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

   A recurring motif in Emily Orsich’s commanding paintings is a confluence of assertive boldness and delicate fragility, describing things simultaneously settled and tentative, solid and liquid. Her configurations are kinetic, intricate synchronies of opposites that nonetheless exist in an uneasy equilibrium.

   So what could these ‘things,’ these ‘opposites’ be? Maybe think of the painter as a cartographer, drawing in code, here mapping terrains of a kind, often inlaid with broad swaths of black and blood red - like rivers, deep-cut roads, or skid marks - juxtaposed with wandering crooked rivulets, amorphous translucent pools, and quiet, empty plains.

   Beyond sketchy, enigmatic connections to earthly geography, however, the expressive immediacy of these works also suggests metaphors for another type of terrain. Which is to say the artist’s state of mind and heart.  

   In this context, consider Orsich’s style of abstraction as a kind of writing. Think of her mark-making as a spontaneous cursive script, approaching a form of calligraphy both agitated and strangely elegant. 

   Could these paintings then indeed be narratives about Orsich, and by extension, all of us viewers willing to trust our own intuitions? Are these stories about navigating personal relationships? About resolving conflicts? Or finding joy amidst chaos? Or serenity in anxiety? Psychological balance? About growth, discovery, and catharsis?

   The answer’s in the looking. More power to ‘ya.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Compelling Drama, Mesmerizing Virtuosity


 Compelling Drama, Mesmerizing Virtuosity 

Pianist Michelle Cann

Gerhardt Zimmermann

By Tom Wachunas

…No, no, no, no, no, no, no /I'm overdue /I'm really in a stew/

No time to say goodbye, hello /I'm late, I'm late, I'm late

-      Lyrics from “I’m Late” from Disney film Alice in Wonderland

   Late indeed. With Thanksgiving nipping at our heels, I’m slowly returning to my writeful place here on ARTWACH, and very grateful for all the loving encouragement you readers sent my way following my previous post about my medical woes. So here’s a long overdue THANK YOU to the Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO), now celebrating its 85the Anniversary, for yet another superb adventure into sheer musical excellence.  

    In writing about the CSO’s October 30 concert, Music Director and Conductor Gerhardt Zimmermann casually mentioned that a few of the selections were meant to “…help usher in Halloween the next day…” Fittingly, the intriguing thematic diversity of the program of four works certainly did include a few especially haunting journeys to the dark side.

   The evening commenced with César Franck’s 1883 macabre symphonic poem, Le Chasseur maudit (The Accursed Huntsman). The work was inspired by a ballad by German poet Gottfried August Bűrger, and tells the tale of The Count of Rhine who, on one fateful Sunday, decided to forego obligatory church devotions in favor of galloping into the woods to hunt, happily blowing his horn. The absolutely sumptuous sounds of the CSO strings and bright percussive chimes calling the faithful to worship on a sunny day soon enough gave way to the piercing clarity of the naughty horn calls. The hapless hunter proceeds to ride his way into the darkness wrought by his guilty conscience and subsequent pursuit by Satanic demons. For desecrating the Sabbath, the hunter became hunted by Hell itself. In telling the story, the orchestra quite effectively soared to chilling depths of aural scariness.

   And then, a mesmerizing respite from bittersweet morbidity transpired, thanks to the exquisite technical virtuosity of guest soloist Michelle Cann. Her dazzling piano wizardry was truly a wonder to behold as she brought to light and life the effulgent lyricism of Piano Concerto in One Movement, composed in 1934 by African -American composer Florence Price (1887-1953).

    Cann returned after intermission to further regale us with jaw-dropping panache in her rendering of Richard Strauss’s complex and rowdy Burleske for Piano and Orchestra. When the enthralled audience clamored for an encore, Cann eagerly obliged. With stern authority, she pounded the keyboard with the first three brooding chords of Rachmaninoff’s iconic Prelude in C sharp minor.  But then, not missing a beat (and no doubt in a Halloween spirit of clever mischief), Cann immediately unleashed a raucous and riveting mashup of Rachmaninoff’s motifs into a blindingly fast and seamless hybrid of jazzy- boogie-woogie - ragtime variations. At once brilliant and hilarious.          

   The evening concluded with yet another fierce trip into doom - Tchaikovsk’s magnificent 1876 Symphonic Fantasy, Fransesca da Rimini. For this narrative, Tchaikovsky sourced Dante Alighieri’s iconic 1321 allegory, The Divine Comedy, particularly its visit to the second circle of Hell, where sins of the flesh are punished, the sinners whipped mercilessly by roaring winds in eternal darkness. In a stunning interlude - slowly developed with achingly sweet melodies - Fransesca da Rimini and her lover Paolo are allowed to rise above the torture and tumult long enough to recall their carnal happiness in one of Tchaikovsky’s most heartrending love themes, only to be sent back to explosive torment. When the last frenetic cymbal crashes and violent drum rolls sounded the anguished finale of this work, please don’t think me too frivolous when I say I could practically hear a replay of the rattled lion’s chant in the Wizard of Oz movie, “I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do I do I do I DO!”

   And so once again, when all was played and done, I too remained a believer. Certainly not in fictional ‘spooks’ as such, but far more importantly, in the Canton Symphony Orchestra as a palpable aesthetic force, haunting – and blessing – us with its always potent and inspiring embrace of pure, artful sublimity.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Bent but not broken


Bent but not broken

By Tom Wachunas 

   To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

   But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed… -2 Corinthians 4: 7-9 

   Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things…  – Philippians 4: 8 

   Maybe subtitle this one Confessions of a recovering critic ?

    It’s not for want of subject matter that after September 27, my usually regular though quirky writing routines, rituals and processes ceased altogether. Call it floundering in a mode of unproduction. Sadly, I have been wholly unable to offer my assessments and appreciations of some recent local arts events and exhibits. This situation has been a distressing consequence of recent medical issues that left me in various stages of hurt-filled immobility and an otherwise depressed state of heart and mind. The time, energy, and ability required to effectively focus on composing arts reviews have been sorely compromised. Diagnosis from Omni Orthopaedics: “Invertebral disc disorders w radiculopathy, lumbar region (M51.16), Spondylolisthesis, lumbar region (M43.16).” Translation: Profound pain.

   Butt, after surgery on October 18, I am slowly on the mend. Soul-renewing gratitude, rather than physical pain, is progressively filling my days.

   In wrestling with (and frankly resenting) this recent absence from my love for looking at and writing about art, I’ve had ample time to prayerfully examine (or brood about) the motives driving that passion. My sense of…purpose.

   Yes, over the years, I have remained acutely aware and thankful that ARTWACH has garnered certain “rewards” in the form of heartfelt comments and sincere praise for my insights and writing skills - all God-bestowed, I assure you. But at its core, ARTWACH isn’t about ME. So despite all the I-me-mine content of this very post, I am nonetheless compelled to remind you that the ARTWACH raison d'être was intended from its beginnings in 2009 as a you-we-ours platform. It is a place, a context, meant to serve, inspire, and elevate our community, our culture, by embracing and assessing, savoring and celebrating, the abundance of truly remarkable art and artists flourishing in our midst.

   I’ll be back. Meanwhile, THANK YOU ALL for your caring and attention. Be well, and happy hunting.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Farewell and Hello


 Farewell and  Hello 



Announcement from The Canton Symphony Orchestra

   The Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO) announces the departure of long-term President & CEO, Michelle Charles with a heavy heart. Her last day of service will be on Friday November 25th, 2022.

   On Monday, November 28th, 2022, current Community Engagement & Education Manager, Rachel Hagemeier, will become President & CEO. Rachel will be the youngest person to ever serve in this position at the CSO at 25 years old.

Here is the Press Release from the CSO:

  "Michelle Charles has served as President & CEO of Canton Symphony Orchestra for eleven years. Previously serving in all capacities of the organization as chorus member and volunteer, board trustee and staff, she was a driving force behind the increasing notoriety of the Canton Symphony. Charles was the catalyst for several major activities that solidified the Symphony's position in Stark County. Under her leadership, she oversaw the funding, construction, and eventual operation of the Zimmermann Symphony Center as part of the 2011-2014 capital campaign. The endowment of the Canton Symphony grew from $1.5 million to over $4 million during Michelle's time with the CSO. During her tenure, Canton Symphony brought in many internationally acclaimed guest artists including Grammy-Award winners Bela Fleck and Sylvia McNair and collaborated with numerous organizations including the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, Canton Museum of Art, Massillon Museum of Art, Stark Parks, and the Dancing Wheels. “I have loved every minute of my time with the Canton Symphony”, said Michelle. “I will certainly miss the staff, musicians, patrons, and donors once I leave but I am excited for my next chapter in my professional career.” Beginning November 28, Michelle will be working at The Summit, a public alternative radio station in Akron.

   On Monday, November 28th, 2022, current Community Engagement & Education Manager, Rachel Hagemeier, will become President & CEO. Hagemeier was the first and obvious choice to replace Charles, demonstrating an unmatched reverence for all things relating to music and education. Her tenacity to accomplish above and beyond what is needed has propelled Canton Symphony's educational initiatives into an unprecedented era of engagement. Just recently, Hagemeier was named one of Stark County's "Twenty Under 40!" list, produced by ystark!, a department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and The Canton Repository.* When asked how she felt about this transition, she said, "To be the next President & CEO of the Canton Symphony Orchestra is a dream come true. In my three years here at the symphony, I have seen the impact classical music can have on a community, and I am overjoyed to continue being a part of this incredible work. This symphony has been rooted in Stark County for 85 years and I am ready to take us into our next chapter of music making. Canton is a special place filled with talented, hard-working, and creative people, and I am lucky to be a part of it."


The Canton Symphony Orchestra board, staff, and musicians are thrilled to welcome Rachel Hagemeier into her new position. They are confident that under her supervision, classical music will be alive, well, and growing into the foreseeable future."

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Roads into Arboreal Auras


 Roads into Arboreal Auras

Cartography, nos. 1, 2, and 3


Filtered Light

Reflected Light

Morning Light


By Tom Wachunas

   "We have all found ourselves looking for “detours” during the last two and a half years. Ways to pass time; ways to stay safe; ways to calm our own anxieties; and maybe even ways to escape. My detours found me traveling near and far to appreciate simplicity, solitude, and a bit more of myself." - Chris Triner 

“…I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”  - From “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost


EXHIBIT: DETOURS, new works by Christopher Triner/ Through October 31, 2022 / at Cyrus Custom Framing & Art Gallery, 2645 Cleveland Avenue NW, Canton, Ohio / gallery viewing hours Mondays-Fridays 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

   A possible starting point for appreciating the title of this exhibit of new paintings by Christopher Triner – Detours – could be to consider his trio of small square mixed-media abstractions called Cartography, nos. 1, 2, and 3. They suggest aerial maps of urban districts, or perhaps neighborhoods. Their bold patterns of geometric shapes and regulated straight lines (streets?) feel  like an incursion - a   trespassing - on otherwise serene clouds of subtly shifting colors.

    It’s that curious juxtaposition of static enclosures and unobstructed airiness, of concrete constructions seemingly afloat on ethereal surrounds, which affected me with a desire to look for a road not into, but out of town as it were. To find a place to simply breathe in, and savor a timeless, healing light.

   And that’s precisely what so many of the other paintings in this exhibit provide. Triner’s brushwork is facile and assertive, imbuing his sylvan visions with an expressive spontaneity. There’s also plenty of attention to rendering ligneous and foliate textures, but never to the point of being overly -precious.

   The enchanting power and beauty in these paintings is in their breathtaking capture of light and how Triner has let it inhabit his luscious palette. Even in the most shadowed or dark pockets of the woods, the colors retain a distinctive aura. And when the sun is filtered through the arboreal canopy, the ground becomes a dance floor of sorts, dappled with rhythms of flickering, shimmering pools and puddles of brightness, looking sometimes like so many iridescent footprints.

   Welcome to where light is a tactile reality unto itself. Walk, bask, smile, dance. Just what the doctor ordered.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Meet the Metamorphs


Meet the Metamorphs 

                                                                         By Tom Wachunas


   “…Strange fascination, fascinating me…Ah, changes are taking the pace I’m going through…Time may change me, But I can’t trace time…  - lyrics from “Changes” by David Bowie, 1971

Metamorphosis: a change of physical form, structure, or substance especially by supernatural means / a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances  - Merriam-Webster


   EXHIBIT: Dust to Diamonds, new works by Erika Katherine, at Patina Arts Centre, 324 Cleveland Avenue N.W., in downtown Canton / Viewing hours are Thursdays Noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays Noon to 9 p.m. / Through August 20, 2022

   First, here are some sentences I excerpted from Erika Katherin’e artist statement for this exhibit:

  Erika Katherine's newest collection of work explores the idea of time as pressure. Through intentionality, time itself feeds us, grows us, and makes us the creative beings we are. Diamonds are formed under pressure,… From nothingness, a beautiful stone is formed… Inspired by her love for fantasy, dark art, and surrealism, Erika has created a whimsical aesthetic…featuring the cute, the creepy, and the strange… character sculptures and surreal worlds from found objects that were once considered trash, polymer/paper clays, and epoxy resin….Dust to Diamonds… features work that has been molded by time. Scavenging through her studio at The HUB, collecting pieces and parts, trinkets, found objects, and adding in a combination of resin and polymer clays. Erika Katherine works to transform it all into something new and beautiful…Created from nothingness… and an abundance of magic, this exhibition aims to incite wonder.”

   Wonder indeed. As in, I wondered a lot about what her exquisitely crafted objects – particularly the smallish “character” sculptures - might signify exactly. Interestingly enough, there are no titles posted with the pieces, which can be useful (though not always, to be sure) in deciphering meaning.  Then again, being left to our own devices in that regard needn’t be a bad thing. In fact it can, for those willing to take time to look intentionally, actually incite a collaboration, a completion. The artist makes an object out of found, repurposed stuff, and the viewer makes something of the found art, so to speak. A partnership.

   Erika Katherine’s art – and for that matter, anything we call art -  isn’t really born from absolute nothingness. Art is always a… somethingness, taken from a somewhereness which the artist transubstantiates into a… something-elseness. In that sense, artists don’t “create” in the grand theological sense of the word so much as they impose metamorphoses. 

   What, then, are we looking at here? Pearly-sheened oddments. Glossy states of mind, at once whimsical, mystical and macabre.  Effigies, totems, incarnations, avatars. These curios from elsewhere all pop with luxuriant ornamental details and luscious color.

   There might be a saga here, a bizarre fairy tale. Something like this, perhaps: Once upon a sometime, blindfolded Princess Antenna came out of the mouth of Kingskull Gold Eyes to find her wandering misfit friends so they could help save her beloved horned pet, Watchyacallit, from being crushed by the evil Insomnia Tower harnessed to the poor thing’s back. Or not.

   OK so that may not be your take-away. In any case, see for yourself. Make time to put some pressure on your imagination. And while you’re at it, name those metamorphs. Save Watchyacallit!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Continuing Combobulations


Continuing Combobulations 


Mothra Getting Distracted

Ghost with Brains


Cop with Birds

By Tom Wachunas


   “…I got some groceries, some peanut butter, to last a couple of days…”  - from “Life During Wartime” - song by Talking Heads, 1979

EXHIBIT: DaveRuinsArt - David Sherrill’s art, at The Hub Art Factory, 336 6th Street N.W, in downtown Canton.

NOTE: One remaining time to view the exhibition - the closing party on FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 6 to 9p.m.

   In many ways this exhibit could rightly be considered a busy extension of David Sherrill’s first solo show mounted at Silo Arts gallery roughly six months ago. What I wrote about that exhibit is still very much applicable to this latest installation at The Hub Art Factory, so I offer this link to my first review if you care to click and (re)read:

     Is the epigram “DaveRuinsArt” a statement about existential irony? A logo for streetsmart sarcasm? Or just a smartass motto?  

   What are we looking at? Psychopunk? HyperPop Expressionism? David Sherrill cooks up up a bubbling hot casserole of images and ideas, generously spiced with edgy humor and a teaspoon or two of horror.      

    Are we to read Sherrill’s ruining of art as nothing more than a disarming bit of self-deprecation? If so, he’s a shade too modest. After all, the man is a facile enough painter. Beyond his wild white-lined abstractions, look at the finesse with which he places his acrylic movie-world monsters atop those found, “thrifted” scenes. Better yet, notice how he has recently revived the ancient art of black velvet painting with haunting portraits seemingly aglow in the dust of colored light. One of those is the jarring likeness of Gollum, that slithery mutant from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings sagas. So arresting, I could practically hear his throaty, dark gurgle of a voice complimenting the other velvet renderings nearby, “Precious!”  

   So maybe in the end, DaveRuinsArt is a tongue-in-cheek marketing strategy to bait the insatiably inquisitive and the wild-at-heart among us. For here’s an invitation to walk that evermore wobbly tightrope of life between mirth and mayhem, fun and fury. You needn’t worry about falling off. The balloons on the gallery floor will cushion your crash.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Rest in Piece



Rest in Piece 

By Tom Wachunas 

“…We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord...”

-2 Corinthians 5: 7-8

   Here’s a quick story about my newest artwork. More accurately, an old work made new. A resurrection, really.

   The original was made at least several years ago – one of my paint-stiffened found clothing concoctions – intended to be about salvation, or redemption, or forgiveness. Maybe all three. I can’t even remember the original title, only that I was never satisfied with the thing, and considered it unresolved. A failure, in fact, or, if you will, a sin. There, I’ve confessed.

    But lately it’s been calling to be corrected, to be made worthy of forgiveness and offered up for re-consideration. So the born-again title is (in Latin) “Requiescat in Pace (Rest in Peace).”

   For several days I kept looking at the old painting propped up in my studio, once every few hours or so, brooding and wondering and pacing around the thing, knowing it wanted, it required, it demanded, then commanded action on my part.

   Then a strange thing happened. A memory. A stern-faced Dominican nun was wagging a finger in the faces of her second-grade students. Her lips curled into a half-smile, half- snarl, one eyebrow arched heavenward. Her raspy voice was urgent. She blurted, “Every time you sin, you put Jesus right back up on that cross and he bleeds all over again!”

   Well, Sister, there’s another fine mess you’d gotten me into. I don’t remember how many childhood years passed with her words still branded and smoldering on the fleshy tablet of my heart. My brain was bloated with gruesome pictures of Jesus, afloat somewhere in the meta-whatever, screaming in pain, writhing in his own blood every time I told a lie or said a bad word, disobeyed my parents or made fun of a classmate, called my younger sister stupid or a neighbor kid ugly, pilfered a Milkyway (or was it Nestle’s Crunch?) from the neighborhood grocer, or, horror of horrors, had an “impure thought.” ENOUGH!

    Back to my painting. Time to act. So, just a few days ago, I washed my hands in holy water, so to speak - goopy globs of wet acrylic color. I pressed my paint-slathered hands down, hard into three places on the stiff, wrinkly ridges of the artwork. An anointing.  ImPRESSionism indeed. I found my piece. And my peace. It is finished.

Monday, July 11, 2022

For the Record




'Signs and wonderings' exhibit explores Canton artist's faith

By Charita M. Goshay

Published in Canton’s daily newspaper, The Repository, July 10, 2022


CANTON –Tom Wachunas' life as a successful abstract artist could be likened to the story of the prodigal son in the Book of Luke, in which a wayward son goes his own way, only to realize that what he was seeking was the very thing he left behind.

His newest show, "Signs and Wonderings – A Disciple's Journey," can be seen now through July 24 at the Patina Arts Centre at 324 Cleveland Ave. NW.

Wachunas – who uses everything from paint to graphite to fabric – describes his pieces as  "mixed-media-assemblages."

In a blog post, Wachunas described his work as, "A continuing realization and loving embrace of biblical and Christocentric content."

"Other times, I've called them 3-D paintings," he said. "In the last several years, I've incorporated a lot of fabric to bring depth and dimension."

A native of Alliance, Wachunas was raised a devout Catholic. He said he's also been serious and passionate about art since he was a 10-year-old boy.

Tom Wachunas' art in his newest exhibit, "Signs and Wonderings" makes use of such ancient biblical symbols as the lamb and the golden calf, and such modern items such as technology.

"I was in the first first-grade class at Regina Coeli School, and I was in one of the earliest classes at St. Thomas Aquinas (High School)," he said.

The priesthood, or art?

Wachunas was so devoted to his faith that he seriously considered the priesthood. After two years at St. Thomas Aquinas, he completed high school at St. Gregory's, a seminary high school in Cincinnati, but decided against entering the seminary.

"I was always passionate about art," he said. "I could no longer see myself in that life as a priest. By any standard, I would be considered a fallen-away Catholic."

Wachunas graduated from Ohio State in 1973 with a bachelor's degree in fine arts, followed by master's in expanded arts in 1975.

"In grad school, I got connected with a community of what was known then as born-again Christians." he said. "My sense of God and my Christian faith was set fire again. Then, as life would have it, I kind of drifted."

Wachunas said he then followed a flock of friends, "long-haired, hippie types who were into art," to Miami. But in 1977, he heeded the call from other artist friends living in New York City, where he worked and lived as an artist for 14 years before returning to Ohio in 1991.

"My faith got rekindled in a really intense way when I came back to Ohio," he said.

 'He's still calling me'

Wachunas admits that his faith went dormant while living in New York.

"I didn't go to church but I do remember praying," he said. "I was frankly more intent on being acknowledged in the art world rather than the Christian world. I was living a lifestyle that was anything but Christian. But my sense of Christ and Christianity never outright died. It was always there. He never let me go. I had seasons of sensing 'He's still calling me.'"

Noting that his first wife was Jewish, Wachunas said they often had profound discussions about faith.

"It would spark my memory," he said. "I think it was God's way of keeping me in reach."

Wachunas said it's not his intention to club people over the head.

"I don't intend these pieces to preach or teach outright," he said. "My hope is that they plant questions, and keep people arrested enough to at least look."

Wachunas and his second wife have been members of RiverTree Christian Church in Jackson Township for more than 20 years.

"I think Christianity is mislabled, misunderstood, unappreciated and under-celebrated," he said. "People have confused messages about what it means ... I think Christians are increasingly lumped together as the enemies of peace and love, which is what all of us seek."

Gallery volunteer Kim Kinghoff is a fan.

"I love the uniqueness and the stories," she said. "One of my favorite pieces is the golden calf."

Wachunas admits having concerns about his Christocentric works being understood but says he needs to be true to himself.

"I needed to be honest," he said. "God gave me the courage to stand up. If people walk away with more questions about God and Jesus, that for me is significant."

Gallery hours are noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

The gallery also is open from 5 to 9 p.m. on First Fridays. New gallery openings are every last Friday of the month from 5 to 9 p.m.

Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or  On Twitter: @cgoshayREP.

Friday, July 8, 2022




Homage Morandi

Not for the Faint of Heart

Rear Window

Juicy Fruits

Alphabet Soup

Naughty But Nice

“…Also inherent in this soup of paint, collage and accidents, is the subconscious mind lending to my creations the unknown factor. Tapping into the ‘’subconscious’’ (which using my untrained hand facilitates) allows me to make work that relies on intuition, a mixture of art-historical and non-art resources in order to create funny, sometimes irreverent yet moving imagery. “

-      Patricia Zinsmeister Parker

   EXHIBIT: Patricia Zinsmeister Parker paintings, THROUGH JULY 29 at John Strauss Studios, upstairs gallery / 236 Walnut Avenue NE, in downtown Canton / Viewing hours: Mondays – Fridays 10am to 5pm, Saturdays 10am to 4pm

   Look long enough at a painting by Patricia Zinsmeister Parker and you might hear her right hand hand clapping while her left hand laughs. One complements and compliments the other.

   As a static object, a Parker painting represents a specific event in time, a decision: the point at which she stopped painting the picture. An arrival. Prior to that arrival, however, there is always a story, or history of stories. There be ghosts in a Parker painting. Some shout. Some whisper. Remnants. Echoes.

   Look long enough. Underneath what’s immediately apparent, you might find a person or a place or a thing, a riddle or a rumble, shaky shapes or loosed lines lurking inside colliding clouds of color. A brush with memory.

   Look long enough. A Parker painting is a confluence of the mundane and mysterious. A juncture where the very recent and very distant past meet to make a new present moment.

   Look long enough. A Parker painting is an activation of inexhaustible exuberance at mark-making. You might even hear the sound of scrubbing, or scribbling, or rubbing, or dribbling. The push-pull of pure possibility.

   Look long enough. A Parker painting is unencumbered by the laborious illusory minutiae of prosaic details. Here’s a larger, deeper reality: the poetry of process.

   Look longer. And listen.