Friday, August 25, 2023

X Marks the Spot


X Marks the Spot

Skeleton // XXIII/II

Skateboard decks

Drella / II / 10.22

Frank Sinatra // XXI

Exploding Star // XXIII - X

By Tom Wachunas

“Follow your inner moonlight, don’t hide the madness” - Allen Ginsberg

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." -Andy Warhol

“Billy Ludwig’s mixed media pieces are meant to look as though they were just cut off a downtown wall covered in guerrilla marketing and/or artwork that was once hanging in an establishment like a museum that has been abandoned — the structure set to be torn down after years of it and its contents being vandalized, these pieces have been rescued from demolition. Along with signature accents, each piece is embellished with various information about the subject - significant numbers, latitude/longitudes, quotes and more. The devil really is in the details…”  - from Billy Ludwig, at

EXHIBIT: SKULL & BONES -The Artwork of Billy Ludwig / THROUGH SEPTEMBER 7th  at Cyrus Custom Framing and Art Gallery, 2645 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton, Ohio / Viewing hours: Monday - Friday 10am ish – 6pm / Saturday 11am - 3pm /Closed first Saturday of the month and Closed on Sundays / (330) 452-9787 / CLOSING RECEPTION FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, at 6:30 p.m.

   What does the name of this monotonal exhibit – “Skull and Bones” – suggest to you? Pirate flags and plundered booty? Mortality? Decay?  Aaargh, me mateys…

   The entire gallery space is saturated in a somber palette. Collectively, Billy Ludwig’s black-and-white mixed media works on wood or canvas exude a palpable solemnity and, perhaps, a funereal pallor. The visual un-glitziness of these pieces, given the nature of their subject matter, is weirdly ironic, yet somehow still intriguing and provocative.

   That subject matter is largely built upon appropriated photos of famous people and characters. Celebrities. Here are artists/entertainers, influencers, real as well as fictional, who have become (for better or worse) luminous pop-culture icons. Treasured objects of our worldly attention, affection, admiration. Presences now or once so bright we call them… stars.

   Yet their light, as rendered here, often feels faded. Their likenesses are printed in glib shades of grey. Sometimes they’re engaging, like a magazine glamour pic. And sometimes they’re also quite mundane, like photos on a driver’s license, a passport, a mug shot.

   Fame and celebrity can be fickle, feckless and fleeting - a dazzling, death-defying skateboard trick against inevitable gravity before the wheels fall off. Exhibited in this context, a few of Ludwig’s dramatically stark abstract paintings might be metaphorical reminders that fame and celebrity, like stars, explode. They end, leaving behind only scribbles, splotches and shadows of their former glory.

    To what degree are all of us pirates, insatiable consumers, ever searching for and seizing the latest greatest biggest bestest pleasure treasure the world has to offer?

   To the devil in the details, here’s a tasty tidbit of ancient wisdom, from Ecclesiastes 1:8-9: All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

   Aaargh, me mateys.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Mesmerizing Synchronies


Mesmerzing Synchronies 

Suspended Between

Plying Together

Out Of The Box

Imaginative Space Evoked

Lattice Woven

X Blue Hue

By Tom Wachunas 

Just look around: in modern life, the grid is everywhere… The grid is the net that connects art with the increasingly ordered qualities of day-to-day life. As Rosalind Krauss wrote, “logically speaking, the grid extends, in all directions, to infinity.”  - Nessia Pope, ARTSPACE curator, from “How the Grid Conquered Contemporary Art” (2014)

I think it's really useful to create parameters. The term you use can be forwarded into something more like a grid, a rubric, a system that you apply to all environments, and in so doing you create a situation in which you can locate local color, local differences within new environments.  - Kehinde Wiley 

liminal: of, relating to, or situated at a sensory threshold ; of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : IN-BETWEEN, TRANSITIONAL

synchrony: the way in which two or more things happen, develop, move, etc. at the same time or speed

EXHIBIT: LIMINAL – paintings by Mary Crane Nutter  / THROUGH AUGUST 18, 2023, at Strauss Studios Gallery   / 236 Walnut Ave NE in downtown Canton, OH / M – F 10a.m. to 5p.m.

Background / Bio info and images:

 EXCERPTS: Mary Crane Nutter lives in Walla Walla, Washington, where her studio is located at her home/small farm with a traditional wood barn. Several years ago, she partnered with her sister, Sarah Crane, a graphic designer and photographer to create a neighborhood art and performance experience for the local community at the farm. In creating that experience, she began to make color blocked paintings on panels that were inspired by Pennsylvania Dutch barn star artwork… “If it had not been for that experience, I would not be making the paintings I am making today”, she explained. “It is here in Walla Walla, while immersed in quiet country living… that my mind travelled back to fond memories of my late Grandmother Doris and the many hours I spent as a child watching her create beautiful quilts.

   Think about what Mary Crane Nutter has called her immersion in “quiet country living” as an initial motivation - and a conceptual foundation – for making her mesmerizing acrylic paintings on wood panels. Most of her works in this exhibit are layered geometric abstractions rendered with mellifluous  chromatic harmonies and a vigorous linear precision.

    Interestingly enough, there are few instantly familiar rural or agricultural tropes, much less any stereotypical scenes of what we would readily identify as bucolic, pastoral or backwoodsy. In that sense they’re not prosaic illustrations of specific localities so much as poetic implications. I’m thinking of them as metaphorical pictographs. Poetry for the eyes.

   A central formal element in Nutter’s intricate compositions is the inclusion of intermingled grid motifs in varying dimensions and positions. Here are grids within grids. They can suggest any number of life’s recurring physical patterns and topographies, like meticulously stitched patchwork quilts; like houses or barns or whole neighborhoods – themselves typically constructed on wooden grids; like the fields on which those structures stand, fields often scored and furrowed with crisscrossed lines left by by plows or lawn mowers or rows and rows of crops; like woodlands with their networks of vertical tree trunks and horizontal branches.

    Embedded within many of these grid configurations are circular forms. Such bold emblems might suggest everything from windows and magnifying lenses, to shimmering, multi-colored bubbles reflecting a changing sky, or the organic textures of soil and wood.

   In any case, they serve perhaps as arresting encouragement for viewers to fully look a-round at Nutter’s intriguing ciphers. And really, the only requirement for decoding them is to immerse yourself in the grid – the country, if you will – of your own imagination.