Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Popsychle Perplexities


Popsychle Perplexities 

Petting, Poking, Prickling

2 in My Head

Nightcap (left) / Nothing to Say (right)

Waiting...& Waiting

Don't Pop - Secretive (left) / Personal (right)

Head Pops

By Tom Wachunas

      “…In being most heavily influenced by Pop Surrealism, I sarcastically pair dismal scenes with pleasurable pops of color, playful perspectives, figure distortion and an abundance of childlike references. Within these works, I can bring a sense of humor and absurdity to some of the darker, more challenging aspects of being human in our unstable, perpetually changing environments.”  - from the artist statement by Hannah Pierce

   I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in / I watched myself crawling out as I was a-crawling in / I got up so tight I couldn't unwind / I saw so much I broke my mind / I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in – lyrics from "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" by Mickey Newbury, 1967 

   EXHIBIT: UNSOUND – Ceramics by Hannah Pierce / At Canton Museum of Art THROUGH MARCH 6, 2022 / 1001 Market Avenue N., Canton, Ohio / 330-453-7666 / Viewing hours: Monday-Thursday 10:00 a.m.- 8 p.m, Friday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

You can read the full artist statement, plus view a larger portfolio of her work, by clicking on this link:

    This world, this world. Living here is often like sailing on dark, stormy waters. We can encounter all manner of drenched, unmoored seafarers. Some of them – frantically signaling their angst and confusion - gasp for air as they flounder in an ocean of loose lips, gritted teeth, clenched fists. Others are sassy, seemingly unfazed and dismissive, detached and drifting aimlessly with the tides, and maybe grinning at the absurdity of their plight. Wry society, or society gone awry?

   Welcome to the perplexing, earthenware and porcelain world presented by San Diego artist Hannah Pierce. She has meticulously crafted a metaphorical narrative of sculpted “characters” rendered in varying modes of introspection and expressivity.

   What are we to make of the recurring motif of monochromed faces suspended on the gallery walls? Some look mischievous, some smiling, some perhaps angry or bored. They’re sticking their tongues out at us in a casual sort of way. A puerile gesture of disrespect? A taunting, a dare?  Have these characters ingested a strange candy? Their tongues are tattooed with patterns of dots in bright colors. A rash of questions indeed.

   Elsewhere, surrounded by clusters of prickly cactus leaves, the grey faces in “Waiting…& Waiting” are drinking a pink something through plastic straws. What is it? Pucker up to succulent silliness.

    Eerily enough, and not so silly, looking at Pierce’s stark and haunting figurative works, such as “Nothing to Say” and “Nightcap,” with their distorted anatomies and woeful facial expressions, conjured in me the memory of a movie scene wherein a certain woman was fatally dowsed with a bucket of…water. Hear it, her timeless wail?  “I’m melting, melting! Oooh what a world, what a world…”  

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Savoring Printed Matters


Savoring Printed Matters


Azure Chrysalis, by Lauren Kussro

Urban Panorama #2, by Cynthia Back

You...I Met In The Rain, by Meryl Engler

Sensory Memory 05, by Jayoung Yoon

Pinaskiw - Butterfly Dancer, by Linda Whitney

   “Considering that this exhibition would be on view at a university, I wanted to offer viewers not only inclusivity, but also amazing examples of printmaking and its trajectory… and it has been my experience that women are the commanding force in this field.”  - Erica Criss, curator 

   Exhibit: Women’s Printmaking Invitational 2022 / Presented by Rubber City Prints and hosted by Kent State University at Stark /  Curated by Erica Criss / in The William J. and Pearle F. Lemmon Visiting Artist Gallery, Fine Arts building at Kent State University at Stark / 6000 Frank Avenue NW, North Canton, OH / Exhibition Dates: February 9 - March 4, 2022 / Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday 11;00am - 5:00pm

Participating Artists: Amy Silberkleit Angela Pilgrim Anita Hunt Beth Fein Beth Ganz Bridget ODonnell Cynthia Back DeAnn Prosia Jayne Reid Jackson Jayoung Yoon Jency Sekaran Jennifer Mack Watkins Joan Dix Blair Karin Bruckner Kathy Caraccio Katie Commodore Kirsten Flaherty Kristie Valentine Lauren Kussro  Linda Whitney Meryl Engler Nandini Chirimar Phyllis Trout Robin Dintiman Taryn McMahon Trisha Gupta Valerie Dillon Veronica CeCi

   For its extraordinary depth of thematic content, its sheer diversity of pictorial styles, and exquisitely executed craft, this important group show is an altogether stunning – make that sublime - aesthetic experience. I think all of you would be the richer for seeing it, the poorer for missing it.

  The words in the remainder of this post are re-printed from the Rubber City Prints, Inc. web site:

   Rubber City Prints is excited to launch the Women’s Printmaking Invitational (WPI) 2022, hosted by Kent State University at Stark. Now, more than ever, women command the fine art printmaking field and deserve to have their unique perspectives showcased. The goal of this exhibition is to highlight women printmakers and give them a space to connect and support each other. Their voices may express a diverse range of imagery, content, and processes, but they are united by their shared experience of being a woman in the once male-dominated world of printmaking.

   Rubber City Prints was started by a group of women printmakers from Kent State University who were about to lose their studios because they would be graduating. It was their goal, and RCP’s mission, to offer local artists the facilities and opportunities needed for the art community to thrive in downtown Akron, Ohio.

   We are excited to have Erica Criss, an original founder of RCP and MFA graduate of Kent State University, as our curator for this exhibition. For the past 10 years, Criss has worked in New York City in the non-profit art sector across functions such as program development, operations, exhibition development, and fundraising. She has produced dozens of exhibitions, nationally and internationally, most notably, the NY International Miniature Print Exhibition and the Print Effect: Small Works/Big Impact. Criss also curated Divergent Ink at Rubber City Prints. She continues to support artists and nonprofits through her consulting business, CRISS Collaborations.

                                                  Curator’s Statement

   I am honored to present the first iteration of the Women’s Printmaking Invitational 2022. A printmaker myself, I have had the opportunity to work with many artists from Ohio to New York and it has been my experience that women are the commanding force in this field.

   In order to more accurately represent the full breadth of contemporary printmaking, I deliberately chose a diverse group of artists who work in a variety of different processes, methods, and themes. They come from different backgrounds, communities, and career levels offering an array of perspectives. Considering that this exhibition would be on view at a university, I wanted to offer viewers not only inclusivity, but also amazing examples of printmaking and its trajectory.

   Many of these artists have developed their own methods and techniques or became masters in their chosen process. Some have been lifelong educators and mentors while others are at the beginning of their careers. Within the diversity of the group, common threads emerge. The selected artists express the importance of our connection to nature, speak to social injustices, personal narratives, and to the printmaking process itself. It is here where connections are made and I aim to use this opportunity to facilitate those connections amongst the artists.

- Erica Criss

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

A Ramble through the Rabbit Hole?


A Ramble through the Rabbit Hole? 

The Spiritual Death of Mother Triceratops

Allow Yourself to Become Vulnerable

Jesus Christ, They/Them

Synesthesia Memory

Frankenstein v. Wolfman


By Tom Wachunas 

   “Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”

― Lewis Carroll, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

“Let's build a happy little cloud that floats around the sky.” -Bob Ross  

EXHIBIT: DaveRuinsArt – work by David Sherrill. FINAL VIEWING TIME is this FRIDAY, Feb. 4, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Silo Arts, 431 Fourth St. NW, downtown Canton

   For starters, I highly recommend clicking on the following link to read Ed Balint’s excellent January 7 Repository article on David Sherrill and this, Sherrill’s first solo exhibit. I’ll wait…  

   Curiouser and curiouser. Some of the works here are what Sherrill calls his “altered art.”  Looking at these, I sensed echoes of the late Bob Ross, who often said to wannabe painters in his popular The Joy of Painting TV show, "You can do anything you want to do. This is your world."

   The world presented in Sherrill’s altered art pieces began first as “found” or, if you will, rescued scenes by other painters. Technically formulaic and aesthetically generic, they’re the kind of pictures you’d typically see at bargain-basement home d├ęcor shops, thrift stores, or yard sales. Easy-listening music for the eyes.

   But then along comes Sherrill, and pop goes the easel. Like a sassy lead guitarist in a rock band, he deftly infects these otherwise serene ballads by inserting bizarre, albeit humorous solos. Suddenly, ordinary landscapes have become sci-fi scenarios. I can almost hear Bob Ross intone, “I think a funny monster lives here.”  

   Meanwhile, Sherrill evokes another world altogether with the very raw expressionism of his mixed media paintings. These are dense with feverish brushwork, punctuated with a plethora of layered marks, piled up shapes and symbols, meandering lines, and generally rendered in 50 shades of the rainbow. Frenetic psychedelia, or graffiti from the Twilight Zone? In this world, red-eyed skulls can actually smile, dinosaurs are deities, fish have  mischievous grins, and Jesus looks like he just walked out of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting.

   If Lewis Carroll’s winking Chesire Cat were an art critic, I suspect that after seeing this show, he might say what he said to Alice: “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”  And to that assessment of the world, he would surely add, “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”

   David Sherrill doesn’t really “ruin art” at all. He’s certainly not building pictures of happy little clouds blissfully floating in perfect skies. But hey, these are pictures of his world, however strange and crude they may seem. He nevertheless wields an imagination large and generous enough to bring some unfettered fun to our own.