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.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Splendid Sibelius, Stratospheric Tchaikovsky


Splendid Sibelius, Stratospheric Tchaikovsky from Canton Symphony Orchestra 

Jinjoo Cho

Rick Robinson

Gerhardt Zimmermann

By Tom Wachunas 

   “Music begins where the possibilities of language end.” -Sibelius

    The first selection on the June 25 “Triumphant Tchaikovsky” program from the Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO) was Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 3 in C Major. With this work, premiered in 1907, Sibelius offered a bold departure from the explosive emotionalism so prevalent in late-Romantic era music. This symphony was a renewed embrace of Classicism’s purity of form and melody, and one that, oddly enough, left many initial audiences of the day somewhat bewildered.

   But here, under the ever-enlivening baton of Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann, no such disappointment ensued. Throughout the work, the lavish sonority of the CSO strings articulated a riveting vista, alternately austere, mystical and exhilarating, suffused with crip, textured harmonies and colorful contrapuntal interplays, all impeccably balanced with zesty woodwinds and sturdy exclamations from the brass.  

   Then, talk about connective programming. The next selection was Essay No.1 – After Sibelius, written in 2006 by African-American composer Rick Robinson. Inspired by the compositional style of Sibelius - particularly the theme of the first movement coda in the 3rd symphony – Robinson’s marvelously crafted homage is an episodic argument, or dialogue of sorts, between what he calls the “Aware Self” and “Shadow Self.” The work is a complex continuous narrative, dense with contrasting motifs that sweep across a vast, intricately textured soundscape of constantly shifting colors and dimensions. Every section of the ensemble had a clear and strong voice in this emotional conversation, speaking in stirring crescendos, from gentle moments of euphoric reflection, into louder strident passages. Like navigating through dark storms, the orchestra sailed to a lovely parting of the clouds with eloquent finesse.

   After intermission, the CSO transformed Tchaikovsky’s glorious Violin Concerto in D Major into an enthralling corporeal event. Internationally acclaimed violinist Jinjoo Cho has a distinctive performance style that offered more than just the flawless precision of her lightning-fast fingers, or the crystalline fecundity of tones flowing from her instrument. For as much as she illuminated this pillar of violin literature with commanding authority, dispatching her highest notes as if to pierce the stratosphere, she was in turn played by the music. When not actually playing the violin, she surrendered herself to listening to the orchestra, as someone enraptured, gracefully swaying, her face aglow in a beatific smile, sending vigorous nods of approval and encouragement aimed at her fellow artists, who responded with equal verve.

  A particularly uncanny - though in retrospect, wholly understandable - incident transpired when the sheer intensity of Cho’s electrifying cadenza leading to the conclusion of the first movement caused a serious breach of concert hall etiquette, breaking the golden rule of Thou Shalt Not Applaud Until The Last Movement Is Finished. So sayeth Silly Protocol. This moment, though, was no scattering of a few folks nervously clapping. It was a spontaneous standing ovation from many riding a big wave of boisterous praise. And even then, think of it as but a rehearsal for the instantaneous thunder of appreciation that erupted at the concerto’s utterly spectacular end. Triumphant Tchaikovsky indeed.