Friday, March 11, 2022

Mettle Beyond the Metal


Mettle Beyond the Metal

Morris and Judith



Black Squirrel



By Tom Wachunas

    EXHIBIT: Works by Patrick Buckohr / at Strauss Studios, Upstairs Gallery, 236 Walnut Ave. NE, in downtown Canton / 330.456.0300/ THROUGH MARCH 25, 2022 / Viewing Hours: Monday – Friday 10a.m. – 5p.m.

   As of this writing, Patrick Buckohr has installed 63 works of public art – murals and large-scale iron works - at various locations in Northeast Ohio over the past 15 years. Here in Canton, he’s gained considerable notoriety for his big outdoor metal sculptures, including several playful animal forms from his “Critters” series.

   So yes, there are some smaller 3D works in metal here. Among those are his steel Feather pieces, crafted with mind-blowing precision, and his exquisitely intricate (steel) Black Squirrel.

   But the most surprising components of this exhibit - which is Buckohr’s first solo show since 2011 – aren’t about sculpture or metal. I didn’t realize that the artist was such a deft wielder of the brush. Here is Patrick Buckohr, the painter.

   His three black-and-white watercolors, along with three larger mixed-media paintings, are impressive demonstrations of facile draftsmanship and expressive tonality. One of the watercolors depicts a road construction worker stooped over a tiny manual air pump, trying to inflate a monster-sized flat tire. The piece is called, appropriately enough, Futile. More than an entertaining sight gag, the image feels like a timely commentary on societal ineptitudes during troubled times.

    Futile is an arresting emblem of world-weariness. A kindred spirit resonates in Buckohr’s mixed-media Bombraid  (4’ x 6’), painted on planks  of salvaged plywood. With his hands pressed against his ears, a boy on his knees cowers under a desk. Again, a timely aura, a haunting relevance. While the painting is a brooding remembrance of those schoolroom duck-and-cover air raid drills from the 1950s, is it not also a woeful reflection of here-and-now Ukraine?   

   In another big painting, Morris and Judith (6’ x 5’), the figurative brushwork is raw and loose, rendered with a palette of muted purples, smoky grays, and motley earth tones. These are hardly party-time colors. Still, the couple twirls and quick-steps their Lindy Hop, seeming not to care they’re dancing in the dark. Judith wears a fierce, determined grin, as if to say, “Morris, honey, it’s us against the world!”  

   When the going gets tough, the tough get dancing. Or painting.

Friday, March 4, 2022

In the thick of it


In the thick of it 



Signs of Life

Protect the Rose

The Wastelands



By Tom Wachunas 

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes” – Mark Twain

   im·pas·to / imˈpastō/ noun: the process or technique of laying on paint or pigment thickly so that it stands out from a surface. 

   EXHIBIT: Impasto Syndrome – paintings by Melissa Goff, at Patina Arts Centre, 324 Cleveland Ave NW, downtown Canton, OH / through March 19, 2022 / After the First Friday (March 4) showing from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, gallery viewing hours are:  Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm, Saturdays 5:00pm to 9:00pm, and Sundays 12:00 noon to 4:00pm

   What do you think of when you hear or read the word syndrome? Usually, it refers to groupings of symptoms that together characterize a particular disease or disorder.

   It certainly is an arresting enough word to associate with an art exhibit, seeming to imply there might be something wrong with the art. In a recent interview with Ed Balint published in Canton’s Repository newspaper (Feb. 24 issue), self-taught painter Melissa Goff expressed a nervous sense of inadequacy about her work when she said, “The show title is a reference to New York and that imposter syndrome feeling I have when you can call yourself an artist.”

   After seeing this exciting exhibit – her first solo show in Canton – I think she should put her anxiety aside. Wordnerd that I am, I appreciate a rarer definition of syndrome: any set of concurrent things (such as emotions or actions) that can form an identifiable pattern. So if Goff can be said to manifest a syndrome, it’s not at all a troubling abnormality. In her case, it’s a benevolent affliction of affection for abundant application of oil paint. (Yikes - wordnerd strikes again.)  

   This show of some 60 paintings is in large part a wildly eclectic array of recognizable subjects. They’re often rendered in a very broad, loose manner, eschewing illusionistic detail, favoring instead the gestural actions of the artist’s intuitive hand. As if to say a picture is worth a thousand brushstrokes.

    The most remarkable and engaging pieces here are sumptuous, assertive surfaces that inch closer to nonobjective abstraction. To a notable extent they feel grounded in and inspired by the historical legacy of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Sometimes they recall the elegant, layered brushwork of Monet, or echo the visceral, expressionistic tactility of van Gogh.

   That said, Goff’s pictures aren’t just verbatim quotations of painting history. They’re not merely repetitions. Whether whispered or shouted, they are compelling - indeed beautiful - rhymes.