Lola Isroff’s Cat on a Windowsill
Imagine yourself in this scene created by regional artist, Lola Isroff. Her Cat on a Windowsill from 1950 is watercolor and acrylic on paper. (Bequest of the artist, 2001.35)Read More
by Theresa Bembnister, Associate Curator
While conducting studio visits in preparation for Snack, which runs through September 3 in the Judith Bear Isroff Gallery, conversation inevitably meandered toward the edible. Pizza, milk, tater tots and deviled eggs are just a few of the foodstuffs that came up for discussion. With those exchanges in mind, I invited participating artists to submit recipes for the museum blog. To my delight, Brandon Juhasz and Kristen Cliffel responded with lists of ingredients and instructions for foods with strong conceptual links to their works in the exhibition. Brandon sent along an over-the-top how-to video for what is perhaps best described as a meat mass. (Vegetarians and vegans: consider yourself forewarned.) Kristen, whose experience as a wife and mother inspired her sculpture The Dirty Dozen, shared a recipe for her son’s favorite birthday cake.
Epic Meal Time’s TurBacon “A bird in a bird in a bird in a bird in a bird in a pig”
Submitted by Brandon Juhasz
My work is really a satire on consumption as well as a metaphor for the body and existence—the mortal coil, if you will. I hope that the viewer is both attracted to as well as repulsed by the picture. Often times those two emotions go hand in hand with the experience of desire. The overwhelming control that desire can have is also something that went into the making of this picture.
With that in mind I want to share this video.
I couldn’t find the recipe transcribed but this video has stuck with me since I first saw it 2 years ago.
Chocolate Cake, Frosting and Bourbon Cocktail
Submitted by Kristen Cliffel
My son’s favorite birthday cake is the traditional Hershey’s chocolate cake. The recipe is from the back of the cocoa tin. I’ve been using it for years. I modify the frosting to be one that he loves and usually will do something jazzy on top, depending on where his interests are that year.
I always feel like a child’s birthday is also a celebration and a sort of congratulatory event for the parents as well—successfully bringing the child to that moment in life.
Traditional Hershey’s Chocolate Cake: From the Tin of Cocoa
First, get your oven hot. 350 F is what they recommend.
Now cut some parchment circles for your cake pans—very important. I like to use three 8” pans so my cake is nice and high when I layer it up with frosting.
Butter and cocoa the cake pans.
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Sift these ingredients so they are well mixed and the particles are happy together.
Another bowl. Now for the wet stuff:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons good vanilla, like Madagascar (vanilla bean paste is good too)
1 cup boiling water… I know. Boiling water, but it works…
OK, mix all the wet ingredients except for the water… mix them and then add to the dry mix and mix for a couple minutes.
When this is all mixed well, add the boiling water and mix. It will be soupy. Don’t worry.
Pour into your prepared pans and put into your hot oven. Bake for 30 minutes or so … check with a toothpick.
Cool cakes completely. They will pop out nicely because of your diligence with the parchment and cocoa/butter in pans.
Frost when completely cool. This is the fun part!
Frosting: Malted Belgian Chocolate (From another cake recipe—not mine. I just hijacked it for this cake.)
One pound butter
4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cups Ovaltine malted powder
Pinch of salt
8 ounces Belgian chocolate chopped, melted over a double boiler and cooled
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Whip your butter and sugar together for a minute or so…nice and fluffy.
Add the malt, vanilla salt and beat on low for a bit.
Now add the melted and cooled chocolate and beat until smooth … 2 minutes or so.
OK, now add the whipping cream and beat on high for a minute or two.
This is the most lovely frosting for this chocolate cake!!!! Have fun frosting and decorating it. This is really the best part. This frosting is best in winter due to the whipping cream added. If it’s a summer birthday, make sure you have air-conditioning.
I like to put some cloves and a cinnamon stick in the bourbon for at least a couple of hours before serving. Strain out the cloves and cinnamon and then mix your cocktail.
1-1/2 jiggers of bourbon. Don’t be cheap. Use something nice like Maker’s Mark.
1/2 jigger of sweet vermouth
2 nice cherries, luxardo or make your own (steep them in ginger and bourbon overnight)
Bitters of your choice. I like orange for this drink.
Orange peel for garnish and rim
Ok, so you put your ice in the glass, get ready… Mix two of these for sure, I hope you are sharing with someone.
Pour your bourbon and your vermouth into a shaker, add bitters. Stir and swirl around the glass gently.
Garnish your ice with the cherries on the toothpick. Rim your glass with the orange peel. Pour the cocktail into the glass, over the cherries.
Place your orange peel inside the glass but sticking up a bit.
Toast to the other person across from you. Enjoy!!!
Stephen Tomasko’s Fairgrounds
By Theresa Bembnister, Associate Curator
This season marks Stephen Tomasko’s seventh summer photographing county fairs throughout Ohio. Three of the artist’s untitled photographs of foodstands appear in Snack, which runs through September 3 in the Judith Bear Isroff Gallery. The Akron Art Museum blog chats with Tomasko about his current work as well as projects the artist pursues far from the fairgrounds.
Akron Art Museum: Fair season seems to really pick up in August. Which fairs do you plan to visit this month?
Stephen Tomasko: August is amazing for fairs. I’ll definitely hit the Ohio State Fair. The county fairs are all over the place this month. On my schedule is Columbiana, Medina, Holmes, Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Portage and the amazing Canfield fair at the very end of the month. There are some other good ones as well which I may fit in if time allows.
Do you see the same vendors at different fairs?
I do see many of the same vendors and carnival game operators at different fairs over the course of the season. Many of them are quite supportive and have a real interest in what I’m doing as they see their way of life as a disappearing piece of history and want to see it documented and remembered. The people with the games, in particular, are full of stories from their travels and the past: How far a particular game has traveled over the years, how old their metal milk bottles are, various bits of carny history, scams they have seen over the years, stuff like that. Also once you get to know some people over time you hear more about their own past and what their families are up to and how they got on the road. It seems that, like making art, once you get the traveling fair bug some people get pulled in and never get out. It can be an obsession as well as a lifestyle choice.
You tend to photograph in crowded, chaotic situations—county fairs, tailgate parties, outside of the Republican National Convention. What attracts you to those environments?
I am really interested in the crowded and chaotic lately, especially those groups that are formed around a shared interest or passion as opposed to, say, everyone on the sidewalk heading from work at the same time because it’s rush hour. I’m fascinated by what it is that makes people identify with a group enough to show up and join and dress a certain way and act a certain way. What drives people to spend all the time and effort to buy or make the stuff to fit in and stand out?
Also, with a certain density of engaged people you get a critical mass where everything gets noticeably intensified. People feed off of one another and really commit to what they are doing, emotions run higher, it’s much louder, even the smells are stronger. These are elements that I want to convey in my work.
It’s not that different from my spring flowering tree work really. I pack those images from edge to edge with blooms and supplement the natural light with very theatrical flash to create an over-the-top, more-real-than-real tableaux and when it works people respond all the time with comments like “It smells like flowers in here!” So what I’m obsessed with doing now is entering into these energized packed places, distilling down the action there into the frame, capturing what it feels like to be there, maybe even reminding you of what it smells like to be in a place like that, not just what it looks like to be there even though that is of primary importance, too.
I think another part of it is that I like to do things that are hard, to make things that have not been done well before. Crowds are hard and these places are a mess. As a small example, the fairs are loaded with big ugly trash cans that will kill an image in a second if you aren’t careful about excluding them. You never notice that they are not there in the prints, but the work would suffer if they were in the image. Making visually coherent and beautiful photographs is a real challenge. My wife always says about these chaotic images “I love to look at the prints, but I wouldn’t want to be there!” They are a fun challenge to make.
How do your subjects typically respond when they notice they are being photographed?
Photographing in a crowd can be easier to move around and work without people noticing you ahead of the exposure. By the time most people notice they are being photographed, if they notice at all, I have usually made my best shot. The reaction of those who do notice varies a great deal from venue to venue, and sometimes I can’t really figure it out ahead of time. In general, out of all the situations I photograph, the county fairs are toughest. The participants there, even though it is a very public venue and they are “showing at the fair,” tend to be very suspicious of outsiders. I’m not sure if they think I’m from PETA or something, but the reaction is sometimes pretty unpleasant. On the other hand, tailgating at the Muni Lot before Browns games is a blast. Sure I’ve got to clean beer off my camera almost every game, but the reaction of my subjects to being singled out and noticed is almost always very positive. I’m constantly offered food and drink.
In the spirit of Snack, I have to ask this last question. What’s your favorite fair food?
I’ve been to so many fairs now that the stuff that is straight up bad for you holds no more interest to me. The deep fried and the sugar doused has long since lost any allure for me. I’m usually looking for something that is good and will sustain me through the summer heat. A best bet for me is to get a ribeye sandwich from the local cattlemen organization at any given fair. That almost always satisfies and usually they will have some fresh sweet corn roasted on that same grill.
From Rattles to Rothko: Art Babes at Akron Art Museum
by Dominic Caruso, Design, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
In a recent online article (“From pacifiers to Picassos: Museums cater to a younger clientele”) for the Washington Post, contributor Vicky Hallett wrote about the growing trend for museums of all kinds to offer programming and specially-designed spaces for children as young as newborns. While some institutions have been at it for some time (the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia has been running a baby-tour program since 2007), others have created programs relatively recently, for number of different reasons. I can tell you about the reasons behind the programs for babies and their caregivers at the Akron Art Museum.
Beyond school tours, which bring upwards of 7000 local students into the museum galleries every year, and programs for children ages 3 through 12, the endlessly creative, skilled educators at the Akron Art Museum have hosted kids from 0 – 18 months old and their grown-ups with a fun monthly program called Art Babes since September 2014. Art Babes is fun, for babies and caregivers. There’s no doubt that the program is beneficial for moms, dads, grandparents, nannies and other caregivers. They experience a fresh adventure with their little ones at each Art Babes. Visiting a space that is exciting, with innovative things to look at and do is exciting for grown-ups and babies alike. Many visitors have shared that witnessing the carefree, unscripted experiences of their children at the museum takes them back to their own childhood, helping them to unplug from the day’s frustrations, recharge and tune in to the present with their kids.
The program also helps to build an important community between the adults, as they come to develop friendships, a greater sense of trust and a more global approach to their everyday lives. The personal connection with each other and with the museum keeps caregivers coming back. They become a part of the museum family. Like a family relationship, Art Babes has become a collaborative effort: parents are part of the process and what they bring to the group is valued.
You may wonder what the lasting effect a museum visit could have on a baby who likely won’t remember it. We believe that art is for everyone, even babies—maybe especially babies—given that a child’s brain doubles in size during her/his first year. All that growth is the manifest destiny of being human. The kinds of experiences that caregivers can introduce into the course of that growth help to create their child’s means of processing information later on—the way that they, like all humans, creatively interact with the world. While they may not have a specific memory of Art Babes, babies are still building vital skills that will serve them later on.
Art Babes presents experiences for babies that engage a full range of sensory activities, including visually stimulating play with colors and shapes, as well as tactile play, sounds, tastes, even scents. It’s a welcoming environment for a unique learning (and bonding) experience between babies and their grown-ups.
Art Babes is a component of several programs, which we refer to as Live Creative, for kids and families at the museum. These include: Tots Create, for 2 – 3 year-olds; Art Tales, for all ages; Creative Playdates, for 0 – 5 year olds; Kids Studio Classes, for 7 – 12 year olds; and Family Days. In the time that we’ve used Live Creative to refer to programming, we discovered that it grew beyond its use as a title or label. It became a reason for why we do what we do at the museum. To be human is to be creative, regardless of whether you are an artist, an auto mechanic, an accountant, or a months-old newborn. Art can help you to enhance the way you creatively interact with your world to live a more fulfilled life.
Check out upcoming programs, like Art Babes, for children and families at the Akron Art Museum.
Great Moments in Art #038; Ale
by Theresa Bembnister, Associate Curator
In anticipation of this Friday’s Art & Ale (get your tickets here), I’ve assembled this list of three instances where beer inspired artists to create remarkable works of art.
Jasper Johns casts beer cans in bronze to spite fellow artist
Title: Painted Bronze/Ale Cans
Medium: Oil on bronze
According to the now legendary story, Willem de Kooning, a painter known for his large-scale, gestural canvases, badmouthed gallerist Leo Castelli, exclaiming the “son-of-a-bitch” could sell two beer cans as art. When word reached Jasper Johns, an artist represented by Castelli’s gallery, he cast two Ballantine Ale cans in bronze. Castelli sold them. Johns’ sculptural wisecrack now resides in the collection of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany. Works like Painted Bronze/Ale Cans, in which Johns depicted everyday objects, helped usher in the transition from Abstract Expressionism, a dominant style of the 1950s which focused on monumentally scaled works reflecting artist’s psyches, to Pop Art, a movement in which artists looked to imagery from popular culture as sources of inspiration.
Tom Marioni drinks beer with friends, leaves the cans behind, calls it sculpture
Title: The Act of Drinking Beer With Friends is the Highest Form of Art
Medium: Beer, friends
Curator George Neubert brought the beer and artist Tom Marioni brought the party for this after-hours artwork in the empty galleries of the Oakland Art Museum. Sixteen of the artist’s friends joined him for beer and conversation, leaving the empty bottles behind to serve as a record of the gathering. This project continued as a regular series of private social events on Wednesday evenings in Marioni’s San Francisco studio, which the artist hosted to help foster community in the local art scene. Marioni enacts a version of The Act of Drinking Beer… in museums today, although it’s evolved to include an artist-designed bar, fridge and shelves of beer. A pioneer of participatory art, a type of practice in which an artist conceives of a situation creating social engagement, Marioni helped pave the way for artists like Eric Steen, whose Beers Made By Walking is next on this list.
Eric Steen turns hikes into inspiration for tasty brews
Title: Beers Made By Walking
In 2011, artist and beer aficionado Eric Steen invited homebrewers and naturalists to accompany him on a series of seven hikes around the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. His guests identified edible plants they used to flavor eight specially formulated beers which were then brewed at a local commercial brewery and sold at pubs in Colorado Springs. Steen considers the beers portraits of the hikes. Like Tom Marioni before him, he is interested in the ways in which beer brings people together, and as demonstrated by Beers Made By Walking, the ways in which the beverage might connect its drinkers to the landscape around them. The project continues to this day and has expanded to include such major breweries as Deschutes and New Belgium.
NEO Geo Studio Visits
By Theresa Bembnister, Associate Curator
If philosopher Alan Watts is right, and museums are the places art goes to die, then the artist’s studio must surely be the birthplace of a work of art.
For the record: I disagree with Watts. But I do relish the opportunity to see art in its native studio environment, before it’s displayed on the museum’s pristine walls. The context of an artist’s workspace offers clues as to how or why a particular artwork was made.
Studio visits made up a large part of the efforts required to organize NEO Geo. After scoping out an artist’s website, I would set up a studio visit to observe the work and ask questions. Not only did these observations and conversations guide my selections of works to include in the exhibition, but they were integral to gathering key information I could then convey to museum visitors through labels, tours, the brochure and this blog post.
NEO Geo artist Erik Neff
I visited Erik Neff’s studio in Newbury in rural Geauga County in early April and mid-May of last year. A prolific artist, Neff creates pastel drawings on paper in addition to the oil paintings and wooden sculptures selected for NEO Geo.
Neff’s studio serves a dual role of a place to make and store artwork. His flat file drawer holds examples of the modestly scaled paintings the artist made when his children were younger. Now that they spend their days at school, Neff has more time to devote to larger canvases like the ones you see in NEO Geo.
During my visits, Neff displayed his larger and mid-sized canvases propped up on aluminum cans, leaning against the wall. Neff’s painting Between, which is included in NEO Geo, is on the right of this photograph; the edge of Breakwater is barely visible on the far right.
Neff places his small wooden sculptures, or studio mascots, as he likes to call them, on a wooden bench. Here you see a set of Neff’s pastels in the background, and the wooden stove that heats his studio is visible on the far right. The wooden blocks Neff uses to construct his sculptures would have ended up in the stove if they hadn’t had a visual appeal to the artist, who sets them near his palette and brushes paint on their surfaces from time to time.
NEO Geo artist Paul O’Keeffe
I visited Paul O’Keeffe’s studio, which was specifically designed and constructed for the backyard of his Cleveland Heights home, in mid-March and late June of last year. A beautiful natural light fills his workspace.
O’Keeffe purchases colored acrylic pieces that are rejects from improperly cut commercial orders. He layers the translucent sheets atop one another, creating new hues in the process.
When I visited O’Keeffe in June, he had begun work on his two newest sculptures in the exhibition, a distant silence XXX and XXXI. You can see the skeletons of those two works, which were constructed in part with materials from a botched job for a Victoria’s Secret store.
O’Keeffe’s method of combining individual components comes from an example set by sculptor David Smith. “Years ago, as a student, I came across photos of him laying out individual found metal elements on the floor prior to welding (and also composing with cardboard). My acrylic pieces are generated in a similar fashion although the sensibility is considerably different.”
NEO Geo artist Janice Lessman-Moss
I first visited Janice Lessman-Moss’ Kent studio in mid-March of last year, with a follow up visit at the end of May.
Pinned to the wall above her flat file are print-outs of digital sketches for the artist’s Random Walk series. The random walk theory, which is used to explain the unpredictability of the stock market’s rise and fall, serves as inspiration for the patterns that appear in works in this series, which Lessman-Moss weaves on a digital jacquard loom in her studio. None of the Random Walk weavings are on display in NEO Geo, but the work visible on the right in the above photograph, #420, is part of the series of tapestries created at the same industrial mill in North Carolina where the textiles in NEO Geo were woven.
On the opposite wall hangs what Lessman-Moss refers to as her “crayon box,” a tapestry that doubles as a palette for the colors the artist creates by instructing the industrial digital loom to weave threads in a particular order. She set up a corresponding digital palette in Photoshop, the program she uses to create her designs before transferring them into files for the digital loom using software called Pointcarre.
Each of the many, many colors featured in the complex designs of the weavings on display in NEO Geo corresponds to a square on the crayon box. This tool, which hangs on the wall directly above the desk where the artist sits to design her tapestries, provides valuable insight into the work’s creation—insights best obtained through visits to the artist’s studio, the birthplace of the works of art.
Find out more about NEO Geo, on view at the Akron Art Museum through April 24, 2016. • View the NEO Geo exhibition catalog online.
Art in New York City, Part 2
by Janice Driesbach, Chief Curator
As with other members of our curatorial department, I regularly visit galleries and museums, attend artist talks, and meet with collectors, both as part of my job and pursuing my personal interests. In that regard, I spent several days in New York City in October to see some of the many exciting exhibitions on view at galleries and museums (including ones featuring a number of northeast Ohio artists) and to work on Intersections: Artists Master Line and Space, an exhibition I am organizing that will be on view at the museum in fall 2016. If you missed Part 1 of this post, you can find it here.
By Saturday morning I realized I had pretty much only made my way through four or five blocks of Chelsea in several visits. So, I took another subway downtown, this time starting at 18th Street, where CIA grad Dana Schutz was exhibiting paintings and drawings in an exhibition titled Elevator Brawls and Basketball Trolls.
I also appreciated an introduction to Rachel Rossin’s work. Her painting exhibition was one of two I encountered this trip that was accompanied by a virtual reality component. Other exhibitions of interest included those featuring Ivan Morley (again new to me) and Louise Fishman, whose painting I have long respected.
From Chelsea, I made my way to Long Island City, encountering adventures with weekend subways running on other tracks or not at all. My impetus was a gallery exhibition featuring the human figure, which proved quite nice, and the sprawling Greater New York installation at MOMA PS1. It was surprising that PS1 included both new and older work, including interesting pieces by Lorna Simpson (an artist whose work is in the Akron Art Museum collection).
Another train took us close to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to spend a delightful evening experiencing a new opera/performance, Refuse the Hour, with the libretto by the amazing South African artist William Kentridge, also one of the featured performers.
Sunday mornings can be surprisingly quiet in Manhattan. At least that was my experience walking through Teresita Fernandez’s installation of reflective clouds in Madison Square Park.
From there I went to see an exhibition of Martin Puryear drawings at the Morgan Library.
I also ventured to the Ukrainian Museum to see an exhibition featuring Ukrainian women of the diaspora that included work by two friends from Troy, Ohio, Aka Pereyma (pictured, recently deceased) and her daughter Christina.
The Ukrainian Museum proved to be walking distance from the New Museum, where I rushed through a massive Jim Shaw retrospective (1st photo) as I was in transit to what has become my favorite Sunday afternoon activity: visiting galleries that have sprung up and are continuing to populate New York’s Lower East Side. New venues are arriving and others are moving at a pace that defies even my organizational skills, so I rely on maps, updating gallery locations each season. I particularly enjoyed my introduction to bitforms, a gallery whose roster includes artists engaged with technology, many exploring interactive art forms. You can find my subtle selfie in Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Dissipate, in which letters from the accompanying text begin moving upward to occupy the space cast by the viewer’s shadow.
Zach Harris was another artist whose work drew my attention as I proceeded through densely-packed streets.
The end of the day on Sunday found me looking at work by two artist friends—printmaker Karen Kunc from Lincoln, Nebraska, who has work on view at Central Booking and Akron artist Tony Mastromatteo, whose mural covers a wall of the restaurant Elan, on East 20th Street.
Monday morning found me at John Newman’s studio downtown, talking with the artist and looking at exciting new work he has been creating following his residency in Marfa last summer. He is one of the artists I am featuring in Intersections, so it was key to see his newest sculptures as I am in the process of finalizing my checklist. And John’s comments during our extended conversation provided me with additional insights on the ideas and techniques he is presently pursuing.
I finished up in time to savor a couple of hours at the Museum of Modern Art, where I spent time in an impressive Picasso sculpture exhibition. I also enjoyed the work in a thematic exhibition from MoMA’s stellar collection that included Robert Rauschenberg’s Canyon, as well as wonderful examples by Jasper Johns, Dan Flavin, Yayoi Kusama and others.
Art in New York City, Part 1
by Janice Driesbach, Chief Curator
Given the Akron Art Museum’s commitment to modern and contemporary art, featuring the work of artists from our region and working internationally in our collections and exhibitions, taking advantage of opportunities to see artwork firsthand (so important) nearby and beyond is an important activity for me. As with other members of our curatorial department, I regularly visit galleries and museums, attend artist talks, and meet with collectors, both as part of my job and pursuing my personal interests. In that regard, I spent several days in New York City in October to see some of the many exciting exhibitions on view at galleries and museums (including ones featuring a number of northeast Ohio artists) and to work on Intersections: Artists Master Line and Space, an exhibition I am organizing that will be on view at the museum in fall 2016.
My trip began with immersion in current New York geometric abstraction in the Stanley Whitney exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem featuring luminous oil paintings and watercolors.
Then I made a trip down to Chelsea. First stop: UA Professor Matt Kolodziej’s excellent installation at The Painting Center. [Read the exhibition catalog to Matthew Kolodziej: Lost on a Straight Line, which includes an interview with Janice Driesbach.]
I enjoyed encounters with works by artists from the Beauty Reigns exhibition the museum hosted earlier this year, Paul Henry Ramirez exhibiting beautiful individual paintings at Ryan Lee and Nancy Lorenz having an opening at Morgan Lehman.
Nancy’s many works, all from this year, are responses to drawings she made of each element in the periodic table when she had a Guggenheim Fellowship some time ago. Gallerist Sally Morgan shared that the installation of work in many media was arranged by type of elements, e.g., halogens and metalloids. Platinum is pictured below.
Numerous Thursday evening gallery receptions included one for Sheila Hicks, an amazing textile artist who studied with Joseph Albers long ago and, inspired by him, spent significant time as a young artist in Peru and Mexico, areas of the world that personally fascinate me.
On Friday morning I set out to visit galleries, armed with a list ordered by address that I have been compiling for some time. I continue to update the list based on previous experience, postcard and digital announcements that I receive, art magazine advertisements, internet and blog reviews and recommendations from friends and colleagues.
I decided to focus around 57th Street this morning, starting with another exhibition of work by Sheila Hicks, this time small textiles, on East 60th Street.
On way to the galleries clustered around Fifth Avenue I spied a wonderful El Anatsui in the lobby at the Bloomberg headquarters.
Intrigued by the beautiful work by the artist the Akron Art Museum has so prominently featured, I stepped in to view the composition more closely, discovering an impressive Ursula van Rydingsvard sculpture nearby.
Highlights on/near 57th Street included Lee Friedlander photographs alongside drawings by French painter Pierre Bonnard. I couldn’t help recalling that a critic had compared the complicated compositions in Friedlander’s Factory Landscape photographs in the Akron Art Museum collection to Jackson Pollock paintings.
That analogy seemed even more apt for the Arizona and Utah landscapes that were featured.
Andrew Masullo’s colorful paintings a few blocks away also captured my attention . . .
Rineke Dijkstra‘s three-channel video was as beautiful as the poses assumed by young students at the St. Petersburg Gymnastics School astonished.
After lunch, I made my way back to Chelsea, where I saw a two-channel video in Trevor Paglan’s exhibition addressing surveillance. The video is at once very beautiful and disturbing, a balance that I find intriguing.
I had meetings at two galleries regarding Intersections. Both were productive. and afterward I explored other exhibitions as time permitted. Among the highlights was work by Beatriz Milhazes (another artist in the Beauty Reigns exhibition), early Anne Truitt drawings and Ron Nagle ceramics.
Check back next week for Part 2 of Janice Driesbach’s New York trip.
Making Connections with Inside|Out
by Roza Maille, Inside|Out Coordinator
One of the most exciting things about working on the Akron Art Museum’s Inside|Out project is making connections between the art and the locations where it is installed. This fall we installed 30 high-quality reproductions of iconic works of art from our collection in outdoor spaces in Highland Square & West Hill, Cuyahoga Falls, and on The University of Akron’s campus and in parts of University Park.
One of my favorite (and rather direct) connections we made is the reproduction of Perkins Mansion by William L. Hawkins at the actual Perkins Stone Mansion in West Hill, home of the Summit County Historical Society. Hawkins was inspired to paint this work of art because of a postcard sent to him by one of the Akron Art Museum’s former docents in the 1980s. Using bright colors and broad, flat brushstrokes, Hawkins created an expressive representation of Akron’s historical and architectural landmark. While the building appears to be aflame, Hawkins’ turbulent sky is rather a result of his desire to explore color and reflects the nature of the thick enamel paint he used.
On September 19, I had the chance to make connections to another artwork installed at the Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. by participating in the Crafty Mart Pop Up Market that was taking place at the brewery. Arrangement with Billboard by Harvey R. Griffiths is installed at the brewery entrance, so I wanted to provide an art activity inspired by this wonderful watercolor.
I chose this artwork for Thirsty Dog because of the large billboard reading, “Buy Ohio Apples.” Griffiths was commenting on the shrinking rural areas around Akron and also the importance of supporting local agriculture. It’s evidenced by the success of both Thirsty Dog and Crafty Mart that Akronites definitely love supporting local. Speaking of local, this artwork also happens to be narrated by local author David Giffels in our Inside|Out Tour App.
Arrangement with Billboard was a perfect match for one of our local breweries. In addition, Crafty Mart supports hundreds of artists and makers who live in the area by giving them a venue in which to showcase and sell their products. Inspired by the artwork and the local artisans, I came up with an art activity that would encompass these ideas and take inspiration from the artwork.
Visitors had the chance to create printed designs for a greeting card, a paper shopping bag, or just experiment with paper using various printing techniques. Participants were able to use rubber stamps, hand-made Ohio stamps, and even apples to make their prints.
We also experimented with monoprinting on a gel printing block. This technique (which produces a monotype) is a great way to create a unique print while using drawing, painting, and printmaking techniques without a printing press. Monoprinting creates unique works of art that cannot be replicated, unlike other traditional methods of printmaking. For this activity, we used a brayer to spread the paint on the block and then used different objects to make marks and patterns in the paint. Once the paint was just right, we pressed a piece of paper over the block, making sure to rub over the whole design so everything transferred to the paper.
Kids and adults had a great time creating their prints and learning more about Inside|Out. Events like these activate the artwork in the neighborhoods and inspire creativity among residents. The next Crafty Mart will take place on Nov. 28 and 29, 2015 at Musica, Summit Artspace, and the Akron Art Museum. Additionally, Summit Artspace will host one last trolley tour of Inside|Out art installations in Highland Square as part of the Trolley Tour for the Full Circle Exhibition at Summit Artspace. Pick up the trolley at Summit Artspace, then head to Highland Square for a tour of the Inside|Out works from the Akron Art Museum and end at Harris-Stanton Gallery in Pilgrim Square (W. Market & Sand Run)! Free, but you must make a reservation. The Full Circle Exhibit runs Oct. 16-Nov. 22, 2015 at Summit Artspace in collaboration with Harris-Stanton Gallery. To learn more about the Full Circle exhibit go to: http://summitartspace.org/galleries/summit-artspace-gallery/
Do you want your neighborhood or city to be a part of Inside|Out in 2016? The Akron Art Museum is currently seeking city representatives, downtown development authorities, and arts organizations from communities interested in being a part of the museum’s popular Inside|Out program to submit an application for 2016! Interested communities are asked to submit an application by Oct. 31. An application does not guarantee a place in next year’s schedule but will help the museum determine locations for 2016. Please fill out an application online or contact Roza Maille, Inside|Out Project Coordinator at rMaille@akronartmuseum.org for more information.
Choice: Contemporary Art from the Akron Art Museum at Transformer Station
By Janice Driesbach, Chief Curator
Presenting selections from the museum’s collection in Choice at the Transformer Station on Cleveland’s West Side has been great fun. Having experienced how artworks engage in different conversations when they are placed differently even within our own galleries, it has been a delight to see how they appear and relate to each other in Transformer’s combined historic and contemporary buildings.
Matthew Kolodziej’s Good Neighbors and David Salle’s Poverty Is No Disgrace sing on the walls of the main gallery. These large canvases flank El Anatsui’s Dzesi II, a signature example of the Akron Art Museum’s prescience in collecting artists relatively early in their careers. It has been wonderful to observe how this glittering construction composed of aluminum liquor bottle caps and copper wire has captivated Transformer station volunteers, Cleveland arts leaders and members of our museums at recent events.
I am also very pleased that Fred Bidwell and I decided to feature works in black and white in the historic building. Anthony Caro’s Veduggio Wash, composed from scrap metal the artist encountered while working at a factory in Italy, looks at home on the rough floor not far from the massive horizontal crane that also occupies the space. Lee Bontecou’s untitled sculpture, also assembled using discarded industrial materials, complements impressive large-scale images by Adam Fuss, Daido Moriyama and Lorna Simpson, which speak to the prominence of photography in the museum’s collection. The opportunity to cluster our eight Hiroshi Sugimoto views of seas allows for an appreciation for the vastness and subtleties of the subject, one that has occupied the artist for more than three decades.
In working on Choice and related programs, including a tour I am giving of our contemporary collection in Akron (October 11) and a panel I am moderating on our collection at Transformer Station (November 7), I have renewed appreciation for how the artwork that informs our decisions today was assembled, an accomplishment that reflects the sensibility of our community as well as the contributions of visionary directors and curators. The purchases of Julian Stanczak’s Dual Glare from the exhibition we organized in 1970 and El Anatsui’s Dzesi II prior to the acclaim the artist has received were prescient acquisitions that reflect the museum’s commitment to contemporary artists working nearby and afar. I have been reminded that George Segal’s Girl Sitting Against a Wall II came into the collection along with Andy Warhol’s Single Elvis and our outstanding early Donald Judd sculpture (both on view at home in Akron) in 1972, confirming the museum’s longstanding commitment to contemporary art.
The most surprising question I have been receiving, to me at least, is that if the Akron Art Museum has highlights at Transformer Station, what do we have on view in Akron? Briefly, highlights are filling the galleries dedicated to our collection. Paintings by Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis welcome visitors when they arrive. In addition to the Andy Warhol and Donald Judd mentioned above, longtime favorite paintings, including Chuck Close’s Linda and our amazing Philip Guston Opened Box are joined by new acquisitions, including an untitled Tony Feher and Yinka Shonibare’s Gentleman Walking a Tightrope. Louise Nevelson’s Fugue, also an impressive relief sculpture, occupies the spot vacated by the Lee Bontecou. All to say, there is outstanding Akron Art Museum artwork on view on the West Side of Cleveland and in Akron. Magnificent art in both locales provides all the more reason to plan outings in Cleveland and in Akron this fall.