Saturday, March 30, 2024

In the Path of Totality


In the Path of Totality

By Tom Wachunas 

   I made my most recent mixed media assemblage, In the Path of Totality, in response to an invitation from Vicki Boatright (aka the Artist BZTAT) to participate in the group exhibit she has organized at her new gallery space, BZTAT Studios in Canton Creator Space. The show is called CELESTIAL: EXPLORING COSMIC CURIOSITIES, and intended as a celebration of the much- heralded solar eclipse happening on April 8. The exhibit opens tonight, March 30, from 5:30 to 8:30.

EXHIBIT: March 30 - May 24, 2024, at Canton Creator Space, 730 Market Ave. South / Canton, Ohio /

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11:00a.m.-5:00pm., Saturday 12:00-5:00p.m.

   I look now at the cosmos, the universe -   at least what very little of it I can actually see with my unaided eyes - as a created reality. Not a mind-boggling or science-baffling accident, not an inexplicable random event. But evidence, a glorious manifestation, of a wholly limitless, eternal power with a divine purpose and intent. A spiritual experience in itself. Call it a personal, gradual seeing of true light in its totality.

   So I painted on the slats of an ordinary functioning window blind to make simple images of both a darkened and a blazing sun, signifying a journey from light eclipsed into light fully realized. It’s a symbol of the cosmos, and meant as an iteration of conscious spirit, as well as a meditation on blindness and seeing.

   My piece is an interactive metaphor. I invite you as a viewer to gently twist the wand hanging on the left side of the blind to expose both states of the sun. As you do so, you’ll notice words written in red progressively coming into view on the board behind the slats. You might need to change your stance a bit, or adjust the angle of your gaze, or the tilt of your head as you read the words appearing between the slats. You could consider such adjustments a symbol in its own right too. What changes do any of us need to make in our efforts to clearly see a truth?

   Those red-written words - four verses, all taken from Scripture – are meant as a suggestion, if not an invitation: For the sun, read The Son.

There he was transformed before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as the light. -Matthew 17:2

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. -John 1:4-5 

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings…  - Malachi 4:2

For the Lord God is a sun and shield… -Psalm 4:11

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Attitudes and Latitudes - An Alluring Equipoise


 Attitudes and Latitudes - An Alluring Equipoise

A Union - by Romy and Marcy

By Marcy Axelband

Marcy Axelband

Marcy Axelband

Color Response, By Romy Anderson

Class, by Romy Anderson

70 - by Romy Anderson

By Tom Wachunas 

It's those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes /Nothing remains quite the same / With all of our running and all of our cunning / If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane.   Jimmy Buffet

Ooh, spare your heart. Everything put together sooner or later falls apart.  -Paul Simon

EXHIBIT: All The Colors in the Crayon Box – works by Romy Anderson and Marcy Axelband / THROUGH APRIL 5, 2024 / at Cyrus Custom Framing and Art Gallery, 2645 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton, Ohio / Viewing hours: Monday - Friday 10am – 6pm / Saturday 11am - 3pm /Closed first Saturday of the month and on Sundays / (330) 452-9787

From WIKIPEDIA: “In the manufacture of cloth, warp and weft are the two basic components in weaving to transform thread and yarn into textile fabrics. The vertical warp yarns are held stationary in tension on a loom (frame) while the horizontal weft… is drawn through (inserted over and under) the warp thread…” 

   Romy Anderson’s tantalizing woven wall pieces explore juxtapositions of very colorful grid configurations in varying scales, wherein warp and weft form intricate patterns and micro- textures. In her statement for the show, Anderson tells us that these works reflect her love for organization, mathematics, and creativity. She describes her methodology as “… working with double weave and introducing hand woven techniques such as supplementary weft in combination with a loom-controlled structure. The use of hand-woven techniques allows me to play with color interaction and disruptions in the pattern. When creating disruptions in the pattern I can keep the viewer intrigued in my work through the order and disorder of pattern.”

   I was intrigued indeed by the confluence of apparent opposites. What Anderson calls “disruptions in the pattern” are subtle fusions of formulaic structures with unpredictable interruptions, or stasis counterbalanced with undulating movement. Formal visual harmony and symmetry are conditions most impactful when woven into a context of unexpected mutation. So here’s art as a metaphor, perhaps. Consider it an intricately constructed symbology of tactile lyrics, so to speak, about the warp and weft of …change. You might well think of them as evoking the shifting rhythms and rhymes, regular and interrupted, comprising the ethos of human life itself, sung with a truly tantalizing polychromatic effervescence.

   Complementing Anderson’s distinctive grid geometries are the riveting figural abstractions by Marcy Axelband. They too are invested with a compelling lyricism, as well as an attention to repeated, colorful rhythmic patterns of connected and free-floating shapes, sometimes suggestive of grid motifs. But it’s always human faces that are front and center here. In Axelband’s statement, we read, “Having always been enamored by faces, my work characterizes what they say, what they do not, how they portray their stories of joy and difficulty, peace and sadness, delight and thought. They are playful and serious. They fill me with wonder for the creative process…”

    I first encountered large paintings by Marcy Axelband more than 15 years ago and always admired the facile expressionism of her style. For this series of smaller-scaled pieces on raggedy-edged handmade paper, she chose to use markers, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, graphite, and pen, noting in her statement that “…paint is much more forgiving than markers – which was both frustrating and a challenge.”

   And now? Challenge met, with electrifying results. Her mixing and layering of different drawing media – all the colors in the crayon box, as it were – imbue her pictures with a variety of subtle patinas and saturations that make the surfaces seem to breathe and have a pulse.

   Axelband’s mark-making possesses all the vigorous immediacy and quirky simplicity you might find in a child’s drawing. Eschewing any refined artsy illusionism, it’s just this sort of robust, unfettered naïveté that has the uncanny effect of making her figures, ironically enough, all the more real and relatable.  

   So I read the faces as representing a sprawling diversity of people and their possible narratives, immersed in a stunning panoply of psychic and emotional states we associate with simply being alive.

   And those eyes. Their eyes. Some tranquil, others troubled, some mirthful, others melancholy, some wise, others dumbstruck. Wide or narrow or shadowed or bright. For as much as they look in at themselves or each other, they look out. At us. Or beyond. We look back at them. And see…us.