Saturday, April 27, 2024

A Hearkening of Mythicals and Mysticals


A Hearkening of Mythicals and Mysticals


Divine Union, by Kimberly Blankenship

Devouring the Sun, by Crystal Robinson

Eclipse from the Other Side of the Moon, by Tom Delameter

Penumbra, by Tim Eakin

You're Only Made of Moonlight, by Bella Feliciano

Celestial Masquerade, by Carri Cleveland

Lacuna, by Alaska Thompson

By Tom Wachunas 

“The reappearance of the crescent moon after the new moon; the return of the Sun after a total eclipse, the rising of the Sun in the morning after its troublesome absence at night were noted by people around the world; these phenomena spoke to our ancestors of the possibility of surviving death. Up there in the skies was also a metaphor of immortality.”  - Carl Sagan

EXHIBIT: UMBRA – a collective perspective / at PATINA ARTS CENTRE, 324 Cleveland Avenue NW, Canton, Ohio / THROUGH APRIL 27, 2024 / Gallery Hours: Final viewing on Saturday April 27, 5pm – 9pm

Featured Artists include Kat Francis, Peyton Hopp, and David B. Martin, as well as work by Chris Cook, Erika Katherine, Sam Lilenfield, Zach Finn, Tom Delamater, Tim Eakin, Bella Feliciano, Maizy Jade, Rylee Lovelace, Melissa Goff, Dr. Demon, Carri Cleveland, Heidi Fawver, Monte Arreguin, Ben Sandy, Tessa LeBaron, Kimberly Blankenship, Justin Randall, Chrystal Robinson, Julianne Nipple, Alaska Thompson, Andy Tokarsky, Carri Cleveland, Kaley Weaver, Madi Miller

Umbra (noun) – 1 (a): a conical shadow excluding all light from a given source - specifically : the conical part of the shadow of a celestial body excluding all light from the primary source. (b): the central dark part of a sunspot.  / 2: a shaded area


   Where did I leave off? My time and memory were temporarily…eclipsed… by events not of my making. Ahhh… yes, in my April 15 post here, about that other eclipse on April 8, with these closing thoughts: “…Art allows the events that befall us, whether common or rare, whether of our own making or not, to be ever-present, well beyond their time and place of origin.”

   Once again, art has been ‘allowing’ - this time at Patina Arts Centre. With sincere apologies for this literally last-minute commentary, the current show ends today, on Saturday, April 27.

   The total solar eclipse we witnessed on April 8 reminded me of how often I’ve embraced the megacosm as a grand, created allegory – the ultimate artwork - symbolizing an eternal theatre production, or a dance, unfolding across the stage of infinity. Think of our solar system as a small component of a cosmic dance/theatre troupe numbering countless performers. In this scenario, our earth and moon are in effect tiny dancers - a duet - constantly moving in and out of the spotlight we call our sun. But as April 8 so powerfully demonstrated, what a spectacular and mesmerizing pas de deux! Let me be so bold as to suggest that the playwright/choreographer of this celestial performance is a singularly supernatural being with limitless power.

   It's certainly not a new idea. Many ancient peoples theorized that the heavens were dwelling places of multiple spirits - deities and demons - and their offspring, the planets and stars, where the fates of us mere humans were written and carried out.

    This marvelous exhibit is a diverse, celebratory collection of illustrated insights, intuitions, and fantasies, all at once mythical and mystical.  Here the beatific and the beastly collide or coalesce, passing from light into darkness, or darkness to light. From the delightfully sparkling rhinestone rumination of Alaska Thompson’s Lacuna, to the electrifying fusion of laughter and tears in Carri Cleveland’s Celestial Masquerade; from the elegant balance and harmony of Kimberly Blankenship’s Divine Union, to the devilish strangeness of Bella Feliciano’s You’re only made of Moonlight; from the searing gaze of the turbulent sun flanked by icy blue Zodiac critters in Tim Eakins’ Penumbra, to the eerie gray quiet of Tom Delameter’s ghostly Eclipse from the Other Side of the Moon. And there are more, many more.

   The same Spirit who staged the aforementioned, most perfect mixed-media performance artwork ever conceived and unsurpassable in its sheer magnificence – namely The Universe – left a piece, a spark, of himself in every human being. In those we perceive as artists, we call that spark creativity, or inspiration. I sense that the exhibitors here weren’t just making art only about an outer space event so much as probing their own inner spaces. In the process, they effectively invited us viewers to do the same.

Monday, April 15, 2024




Ladders to the Sky, by Emily Vigil

Starlight, by Iszy Ucker

Rare December Moon, by Clare Murray Adams

Just a Phase, by Tom Delameter

Eclipse, by Orenda Meraky

My Big Night Sky, By BZTAT

Celestial Totality, By Bztat

We are Stardust, by Sally Lytle

By Tom Wachunas

“…Art moves us to experience nature and scientific phenomena with emotional depth in a way that reaches beyond its scientific narrative. Through art, we are moved to engage with nature and scientific phenomena on a level that transcends mere facts, reaching into the realms of heartfelt connections and emotional resonance…” – from the artist/curator statement by Vicki Boatright (AKA the artist BZTAT)

EXHIBIT: CELESTIAL- Exploring Cosmic Curiosities in Art / at Canton Creator  Space/ BZTAT Studios Gallery, 730 Market Avenue S., Canton, Ohio / THROUGH MAY 24, 2024 / Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11:00a.m.-5:00pm., Saturday 12:00-5:00p.m.

Participating artists: Clare Murray Adams, BZTAT, Brenda Case, Tom Delameter, Laura Hollis, Sally Priscilla Lytle, Iszy Rucker, Keeli Serri, Sarah Shumaker, Scott Simler, Emily Vigil, Tom Wachunas, Chris Wurst.

   You may recall my post here from March 30, regarding my newest artwork.  I made it specifically for inclusion in this engaging group show which was in turn originally motivated by a truly cosmic drama – the total solar eclipse that riveted our regional attentions on April 8. In case you missed reading my thoughts, feel free to click on this link:

   Meanwhile, here’s an invitation to re-direct your attentions to the other artworks on view at Canton Creator Space. Forging their own paths of totality, so to speak, the participating artists have delivered a delightful and  impressively eclectic range of appreciations for things celestial.

   One of BZTAT’s paintings, called My Big Night Sky, looks something like a birthday cake, decorated with icing in rainbow colors and textures of candied curls and clusters, floating like so many stars amidst a scripted message: My Night Sky You are So Big and I am so small. I look up at you. All seems Quiet and Still. I paint you as though you are Noisy. Are You Real? Am I? A child’s sweet meditation? Yumm. Tasting the universe with awe and wonder.  

   A black(s)- and- white acrylic painting by Tom Delameter, called Just a Phase,” is imbued with all the stark, documentary matter-of-factness of a satellite photo. Yet in all of its dark simplicity, the picture is nevertheless dramatic, powerful in its compositional elegance, and alluring in its capture of a stunning, splintered arc of blazing light.  

   What I find especially compelling (and beautiful, in its strange way) about Clare Murray Adams’ mixed media painting and collage, Rare December Moon, is its enigmatic nature. I’m moonstruck by its mystery. Here’s an all-at-onceness of things in the process of becoming both revealed and hidden, present and covered over, of materials seemingly sewn together, then disintegrating. Maybe this isn’t so much an illustration or picture as such, but more a codified visual poem about answers as well as unanswerable questions.

   The ambitious, hovering sculpture by Iszy Ucker, called Starlight, is a monstrous blossom that hangs down from the ceiling. A glittery flying conTRAPtion. Ucker tells us in her statement that she was inspired by carnivorous plants such as Venus Fly Traps and their ability to lure prey. She compares the position of viewers standing under it and looking upward to that of stargazers. ”Once in position,” she writes, “they will be in the mouth of the beast and will soon be consumed.”  Consumed, we can certainly hope, by our insatiable curiosity.

   Sally Lytle’s arresting abstraction, We are Stardust, is, like the solar eclipse itself, a dramatic, ephemeral moment loaded with magical lyricism. Here’s a human form and face, fused with, but then emerging from, a celestial occurrence of light obscured by darkness and shadow. I read Lytle’s  painting as a symbolic declaration of hope for ”the human condition.” Our light can be temporarily dimmed, but never wholly extinguished by circumstance. The light. Always the light.

   Considering the overall theme of this exhibit, Emily Vigil’s painting, Ladders to the Sky, is surprisingly small – about 4” x 2” I’m guessing. Call it microcosmic. So grid and bear it – this palm-sized snapshot, this tiny totem.  In the grand panoply of astral phenomena across the known universe, what we saw in the sky here on April 8 was, comparatively speaking, a miniscule, albeit mesmerizing, episode.

   In its distinctive smallness, Vigil’s piece remains after all a large reminder, as is this show in general. We make art for its wondrous potential to let us remember and savor everything about our very aliveness. What we see, what we feel, what we touch, and what touches us. Art allows the events that befall us, whether common or rare, whether of our own making or not, to be ever-present, well beyond their time and place of origin.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

A Sublime Respite Revisited


A Sublime Respite Revisited

Succulent Shadows II

Illuminated Bench II

Ascent with Geraniums

Articulated Agave V

By Tom Wachunas

“…But the transcendentalism by which all men live has primarily much the position of the sun in the sky. We are conscious of it as a kind of splendid confusion; it is something both shining and shapeless, at once a blaze and a blur…” – G.K. Chesterton

EXHIBIT: The Artists’s Legacy – Posthumous Exhibit of works by Diane Belfiglio / At John Strauss Furniture/Studio Gallery, 236 Walnut Ave NE, Canton, OH / Gallery hours: M – F 10a.m. to 5p.m – CLOSING RECEPTION ON FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Here’s a link to Diane’s gorgeous website so you can visit and be reminded of her brilliant work:

   Much of what you’re about to read in this post is from my memorial thoughts about Diane Belfiglio posted here in March of 2023. But first, I offer my deepest THANKS to John Strauss for his continuing vigilance, vigorous promotion, and excellent exhibitions of truly significant contemporary artists - local and otherwise - and their engaging visions at his gallery space.

    When I learned of the sudden passing of Diane Belfiglio in March of last year, my sorrow over her departing our midst was, as it was for many of us, utterly numbing.  But soon enough, the compelling essence of her shining aesthetic cut through the billowing clouds of sadness. I thank God for her impact as superb artist, beloved friend, teacher most excellent, colleague most encouraging. She was, and remains, an altogether inspiring creative force in our community. Here are some of Diane’s words about her work:

   "I was educated in a professional art world that has been characterized by its shock value, biting social commentary, and 'in-your-face' commercial images. In contrast to that world in which I was raised, I am simply endeavoring to create in my art a respite for our weary souls…. No matter the subject or medium, my work is firmly grounded in the formalist ideas that have interested me since my beginnings as a professional artist: closely cropped images bathed in the interplay of pattern between sunlight and shadows. Although realistic in presentation, I rely heavily on the underlying abstract qualities of my forms. Shadows, ethereal by nature, take on a rigid structural aspect in my compositions. Colors range from brilliant to subtle in an effort to reproduce the strong sense of sunlight streaming through each piece. My goal is to transform the mundane into the extraordinary, so that we see beauty in images that generally go unnoticed by most of us on a daily basis.”

    I was always thrilled to write about Diane’s work over the past 25 years. So I offer you this edited composite sampling of past comments from numerous reviews.

   I’ll always see Belfiglio’s oeuvre as something akin to one hand firmly caressing earthbound materiality, the other channeling through it the warmth and movement of light. The ethos of her work is a see-worthy vessel that remains buoyant and sturdy in turbulent waters – intact and unabashedly beautiful in our splintered culture too often floundering in pointless pop junk and ugly sensationalism. Hers are contemplative, mindful visions for our thoughtless times. As such, they are acts of bravery, courage and love on canvas or paper. Woven into the arresting formal elegance of her pictures is a consistently tender, mesmerizing harmony of astonishing technical acuity and compositional lyricism that imbues them with the rarefied air of poetry. Call it all a constant rising to ineluctable light.


    If you’ve not seen this exhibit yet, there are still a few days left. Or come to the closing reception on Friday evening. Come see how the pedestrian, the ordinary, the mundane became the extraordinary, even the…sacred. Come look at bricks breathe, colors dance, shadows sing. And the light. Always, the light.