Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reflections of the May Unblurred.

Spring is swingin' and folks have unleashed their A-game. All of that cooped up energy from winter is being released simultaneously. It's a fun and exciting time. This month's Unblurred was no disappointment. After a string of First Fridays that did little to excite me, yesterday was refreshing.

I started out with a visit to the Community Activity Center, where some of the galleries from Lawrenceville were represented by rows of Bingo-style tables. I'd never been to the location before (it's a former church on Pacific Avenue) and I was struck by the possibilities of the space. Manny T. told me that he booked a show there once. Unfortunately I believe that there are few people outside ofGarfield that know it exists. Anyway, I was pleased (in a vain sorta way) to note that John from the Digging Pitt had a portfolio of my work sitting out. It reminded me that I have to get some of my newer images into his files. Beth from Musee' de Monoian and the owner of the Trinity Gallery were hawking their wares as well. It's just a shame that everyone on Penn Avenue didn't make it to this setup.

It was nice to see Carolyn Wenning's SPACE with an active show of work by CMU students. It's a great looking studio, and run by a talented and gracious woman. Carolyn did say that it will be the last exhibition for awhile, as she wants to concentrate on her own work, and get a figure drawing session up and running (I am anxious to see that happen, as many of my regular spots are shut down for the summer).

The highlight for me last night was the Bigfoot-themed show at Modern Formations. You all should know of my pseudo-obsessive interest in the elusive, furry beast. There was ample quality work in the gallery. The "gentle giant" was represented in needlepoint, sculpture, collage, paintings, and illustrations. Initially I had difficulty trying to choose what I wanted to take home with me. It was curated by parties outside of the gallery, and for some reason the artists insisted on not listing any of their prices. Initially I was put off by this choice, but ultimately it worked to my advantage.

On my second look around the gallery, I noticed a wooden box upon a stool, with a peephole drilled in its front. When I bent down to look at the illuminated scene within, I was struck with joy and wonder. Inside was a diorama with a Bigfoot impersonator languishing in a bathtub with a hairy suit hanging on the wall like a bathrobe. The piece was inventive, lovingly-crafted, and had a lively sense of humor... and I knew I had to have it. I inquired about the price and was stunned by how reasonable the figure was. The artist (Beth Warner, if my flawed recollection is correct) was pleased to have made the sale- but not as happy as I was to purchase such genius. My friends may laugh at my penchant for being first at these events, but I am often rewarded by getting the opportunity to buy the best pieces. Anyway, I left lots of great stuff for them. Luckily for those who missed this, the gallery has a series of events scheduled for this month. It's well worth making a note of it in your schedule.

Another stop worth making is Garfield Artworks. Despite the resident curator's seeming disinterest in the visual arts, every once in awhile he comes up with some gems. My friend Marci Gehring continues her saturation of the local arts scene with her form-fitting afghan dresses and a retrospective of one of her earliest series of paintings. This month she is joined by Jenn Crawford, who displays some of her own slinky (?) fashion designs. Also notable are the Juxtapoz-y paintings of Cleveland resident Amy Casey. Illustrative colorful animals invade post-industrial urban spaces in her accomplished works. Particularly striking is a mural-sized canvas priced beyond my means at $3000. It's worth it if you have the cash. But it don't cost nothin' to see it.

Rounding out the night were exhibitions of the works of Vanessa German (@ The Clay Penn) and Jason Shorr (@ ImageBox). I had seen both bodies of work represented elsewhere around town, but they stood up to repeated viewings. From secondhand accounts, I learned that one very offended "art-lover" actually pulled one of German's pieces from the wall. Apparently he was enraged by its title- "Nappy-Headed Hos". It's really too bad he wasn't patient enough to learn the context of the work- not all art is meant to be decorative. On the other hand, Shorr's work (meanwhile) manages to be both decorative and packed with subtle hints of meaning and inflection. If you ever get a chance to talk to him about his paintings (which are inspired by both Pop Art, classical mythology AND medical illustrations), you should seize the opportunity.

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