Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries

Of the many forms of artistic expression in Northeast Ohio today, geometric abstraction is particularly vibrant. NEO Geo examines the style’s relevance in our region through the work of eight contemporary artists. In the 1960s and 70s artists in the region garnered international attention, securing spots in art history textbooks through works featuring hard-edged geometric forms or complex illusory patterns. Responding directly to this history, Michelle Marie Murphy (Cleveland/Chicago) photographs makeup palettes arranged in patterns that mimic Op Art paintings. Optical illusion also captivates Natalie Lanese (Toledo). Her geometric designs, applied with sponge-tipped brushes directly to walls and floors, will alter viewers’ experience of the Arnstein Gallery and challenge their visual perception. The highly reflective surfaces of Paul O’Keeffe’s (Cleveland Heights) hard-edged, wall-hanging sculptures also play with viewers’ senses; they change color depending on the angle from which they are seen. Written communication inspires Amy Sinbondit (Cleveland Heights) and Kristina Paabus (Oberlin). Sinbondit balances geometry and gesture in ceramic sculptures comprised of swirls and curves borrowed from letter forms. For her multi-layered screenprints, Paabus chooses stencils that function like letters of the alphabet—placed together, they make meaning. Although her graphite drawings resemble Op Art, they reference the artist’s struggle with insomnia while living in Estonia, where winter brings only a few hours of daylight. Janice Lessman-Moss (Kent), Gianna Commito (Kent) and Erik Neff (Newbury) explore geometry in textiles, painting and sculpture. Lessman-Moss expands upon weaving’s basic geometric grid structure with the explosive designs of her jacquard tapestries.  Trained in art and entomology, Neff composes his sculptures from the wood scraps he uses to heat his studio, which is situated in a rural, wooded setting. An intuitive decision-making process shapes his oil paintings, which feature soft, block-like forms. Commito builds layer upon layer of paint to create subtly textured, multi-colored canvases with repeating stripes, x’s, squares and diamonds.