Art Review by Anderson Turner
Going to the Summit Artspace can be a way to gain ideas and discover new artistic innovation.
Fresh, its 11th annual juried art exhibition, is one of those shows in which a multitude of artworks and expressions are on display. It’s also where seasoned artists and young artists have their work shown side by side, thus giving the viewer the opportunity to see some of what is being made and thought about in the broader Northeast Ohio art community.
On display through June 27, Fresh features 46 works that were selected from a pool of more than 250 applicants. Liz Maugans, executive director of Zygote Press and founder of the Collective Arts Network Journal, chose the work for inclusion in the show and picked award winners.
I know from experience that jurying a show like this can be fun, but also very challenging. Often you look for innovative ideas or examples of extreme skill to jump out at you. It can take a fair amount of time to commune with the pieces and craft a vision for what should be included.
Maugans has done an excellent job in picking the work for Fresh. If you walk around the exhibit you can get a sense of her personal aesthetic, or failing that, her sense of humor. Her ability to pick an exclusive grouping of artists that feels inclusive of a variety of styles is admirable and makes Fresh more enjoyable to view.
Venice Beach, acrylic on canvas by Jennifer Omaitz, won first place and is really a colorful tour-de-force of painting techniques and skill wrapped into one work. Colors interlaced with patterns show off the artist’s obvious painting ability and make each time you look at the work a unique experience.
Vignettes, an industrially woven tapestry by Kathryn Shinko received the second place award. If you’re searching for smart, challenging and thought-provoking art to look at, it would be hard to find a piece much better than Shinko’s. Using materials that are usually thought of as traditional, Shinko seeks to question how things “should be” and challenges the viewer through her imagery and different statements (mostly adult themed) she has sewn into the work itself.
While the tapestry is beautiful in its way, it can also be hard to look at after an extended period of time. However, that is also what makes the work so good! Pieces like this put Shinko in the category of “an exciting artist to keep an eye on in the years to come.”
Rachael Goldman’s Untitled inkjet print won third place. It’s unclear exactly how this photo was taken. Perhaps the work was laid on a scanner, than a box put over it so it would have a white backdrop?
Regardless of how it was done, the piece has the feeling of nature and urban detritus. A beautiful old bottle full of dirt, bug carcasses and the remnants of moth or butterfly wings appear stuck to the inside of the bottle like some kind of three-dimensional nature slide.
The whole work is enhanced by how the piece was photographed because bits of dirt surround the bottle and help to give the viewer the feeling of what it might be like to discover something like this in a vacant lot or yard somewhere.
Here is a great example of how less can be more. Also, how the way in which you document your subject matter can help to enhance the story and meaning of the work. I could look at this piece all day.
Another artwork that stood out was Memory Lapse, a video by Micah Kraus. It’s a time-lapse animation that was created from more than 50,000 images captured by a GoPro camera as Krause was traveling by motorcycle to Quemado, N.M., with his wife. There is a layered copy of the video that plays in reverse, and writer and musician Greg Milo created the music that accompanies the piece.
Kraus said his “intention is to create a sense of disorientation and hazy dreamlike quality — akin to the sensation of recalling a fading memory.”
He certainly achieves that on some levels, but he also achieves textures and a painterly like quality with how the video is produced. It feels almost as if you could take each frame of the video, print it and in some way that would be enough of the story to understand what was happening.
The music that is included in the work only helps to enhance the dream-like quality of the video and assists in making viewing it a more meditative and transcendental experience.
Amber McElreath’s piece Look/Don’t Look, a found object assemblage, offers surprises around every corner.
There are references to traditional female hobbies such as needlepoint in the piece, as well as brooches that help to create the aesthetic of the assemblage along with the overall structure of the work itself.
In the center of Look/Don’t Look is a peephole with an image that helps bring the composition together and support the meaning of the work. You’ll have to come to the show if you want to know what the image is in the peephole.
So much of what is on view in this exhibition is “fresh” out of the artist’s studio and is of course why this show is called what it’s called. It is also what makes this show strong and a good idea. Too often juried exhibits lack focus, and the reoccurring theme of this one helps to keep the focus more narrow and to assist whoever the juror is in making it a more interesting exhibit to view.
If you needed another reason to come to Summit Artspace to experience why living in a city like Akron and in a region like Northeast Ohio is of considerable value, Fresh is a great one.
No matter what you do for a living or what you might be studying to become, art exhibits like this one help to push your mind, bring out ideas and make connections you might not otherwise make.