Artwork

A Conversation with Erin Guido & John Paul Costello

Interview conducted by Alison Caplan, Akron Art Museum Director of Education

Erin Guido creates brightly colored dynamic shape and text murals often found in surprising places, like abandoned buildings, offering friendly encouragement as they declare “come over all the time” or “hi.” With the help of carpenter John Paul Costello, Guido’s works became durable, movable pieces, such as “How Are You Feeling Today?” a large sculpture that asks visitors to dial in their emotions.

Erin Guido and John Paul Costello, photograph courtesy of the artists.

How are you feeling today?
EG: I am feeling pretty good today!
JP: Today as with most days lately I’m feeling a bit stressed out, my furniture business has me extremely busy. However, I am really looking forward to this collaboration with Erin as a time to step back and let those creative juices flow in another direction.

How do you come up with the phrases you include in your artwork?
EG: Usually the phrases are something I am thinking about someone specific—sometimes a person I know really well or sometimes a complete stranger. I mostly just like writing nice or silly notes to people! Recently, I’ve been thinking more about the range of feelings or thoughts that I experience or that I imagine someone else experiencing and how to make artwork that can change with emotions.
JP: Ha! I will take no credit for the phrases, that’s Erin’s department.

Erin Guido and John Paul Costello, It's going to be, 2017, mixed media, courtesy of the artists. Photography by Joe Levack/Studio Akron

Erin Guido and John Paul Costello, It’s going to be, 2017, mixed media, courtesy of the artists. Photography by Joe Levack/Studio Akron

What inspired your pieces in the Please Touch exhibition?
EG: My favorite part about putting up artwork outside in the public is that it goes from being my own personal art and feelings to something that is anyone’s and everyone’s. I love when people interact with pieces that they connect to. The Please Touch exhibition is the chance to take that one step further and actually let people change the pieces and create their own public artworks.
JP: For this project most of my inspiration has come from Erin’s artwork. She uses such great colors (something my work is usually void of) and shapes, I just wanted to bring them to life.

L-R: Erin Guido and John Paul Costello, Melpomene and Thalia, 2017, mixed media, courtesy of the artists; Shapes and Pegs, 2017, mixed media, courtesy of the artists; and Today I feel, 2017, mixed media, courtesy of the artists. Photography by Joe Levack/Studio Akron

L-R: Erin Guido and John Paul Costello, Melpomene and Thalia, 2017, mixed media, courtesy of the artists; Shapes and Pegs, 2017, mixed media, courtesy of the artists; and Today I feel, 2017, mixed media, courtesy of the artists. Photography by Joe Levack/Studio Akron

It seems like all of the artist in show have some connection to childhood games or picture books in their work. Do you have a favorite childhood game or book?
EG: I loved all kinds picture books when I was little, but I especially liked pop-up books and flip books (and still do!)
JP: Who didn’t love pop up books? I could sit for hours looking at them, in awe of the simple yet genius mechanics behind them.

How do you collaborate?
EG: It has been really helpful working with JP to see how he makes functional pieces so beautiful and how going from two-dimensional space to three-dimensional space can open up so many options. JP’s mind is has both extremes—really really creative and really really logical. So coming up with crazy ideas with him is so much fun—he can actually figure out how to build them! I usually just add too much color or make the shapes a little bit more wonky.
JP: Extremely well I think. Outside of the furniture my personal work can be a little dark at times so working with Erin has been a welcomed change.

Erin Guido’s & John Paul Costello’s artwork is on view and accessible along with artwork by Jordan Elise Perme & Christopher Lees (Horrible Adorables), and Jay Croft in Please Touch at the Akron Art Museum through July 16, 2017. 

Please Touch shakes off all of the traditional museum-goer behavior and asks visitors to use their sense of touch to experience the exhibition.

For Please Touch, the museum commissioned a group of regional artists to create new works that actively engage audiences of all ages. Erin Guido creates brightly colored dynamic shape and text murals often found in surprising places, like abandoned buildings, offering friendly encouragement as they declare “come over all the time” or “hi.” Jordan Elise and Christopher Lees create mounted animal sculptures they call Horrible Adorables and design patterns for fabric and wallpaper, as well as plastic toys for Kid Robot. Inspired by skateboarding and D.I.Y. culture, Jay Croft’s illustrations have donned skateboard decks, his zine Street Canoe, and most recently, a mural at Chill Ice Cream in downtown Akron.

Read our interview with Jay Croft.

Read our interview with Jordan Elise Perme & Christopher Lees (Horrible Adorables)

For Please Touch, each artist has created an interactive work that visitors can touch and manipulate as they make meaning of it in their own ways.

Please Touch is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by a generous gift from The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation.

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A Conversation with Horrible Adorables Artists Jordan Elise Perme and Christopher Lees

Interview conducted by Alison Caplan, Akron Art Museum Director of Education

Jordan Elise Perme and Christopher Lees create mounted animal sculptures they call Horrible Adorables and design patterns for fabric and wallpaper as well as plastic toys for Kid Robot.

Jordan Elise Perme and Christopher Lees (Horrible Adorables), Hiding in the Hollow (detail), 2017, mixed media, courtesy of the artists.

Jordan Elise Perme and Christopher Lees (Horrible Adorables), Hiding in the Hollow (detail), 2017, mixed media, courtesy of the artists.

Can you talk about your Horrible Adorable characters?

Horrible Adorables are strange creatures from a fantastical land. They are hybrids of selected animals, and have qualities that are both sinister and sweet (horrible and adorable, if you will). We bring the imaginary critters to life by hand carving foam forms, covering them with wool felt scales, and topping them off with eerily realistic glass eyes. We explore relationships that exist between our beasts as well as how they interact with their environment to reveal recognizably human emotions. Horrible Adorables have taken many different forms over the years; as fine art pieces, home decor, and even vinyl toys.

Jordan Elise Perme and Christopher Lees (Horrible Adorables)

Jordan Elise Perme and Christopher Lees (Horrible Adorables)

How did you come up with the idea for this work?

We often dream up many new styles of creatures and narratives for them. Our work is very character driven and is often displayed as solitary pieces removed from their natural environment. In keeping with the theme of the interactive exhibit, as well as our playful style of art, we imagined a page out of a lift-the-flap-book that the viewer could interact with. Behind the doors are detailed dioramas and descriptions about each creature; including some of their more quirky attributes. Creating this interactive mural for the Akron Art Museum gives us the opportunity to place our characters in context which provides a complete story for each of our pieces.

Please Touch, installation view of Jay Croft's artwork (left) and Horrible Adorables (right) Photography by Joe Levack/Studio Akron

Please Touch, installation view of Jay Croft’s artwork (left) and Horrible Adorables (right), Photography by Joe Levack/Studio Akron

Jordan Elise Perme & Christopher Lees (Horrible Adorables) artwork is on view and accessible along with artwork by Erin Guido & John Paul Costello, and Jay Croft in Please Touch at the Akron Art Museum through July 16, 2017. Look for interviews with Erin Guido & John Paul Costello coming soon!

Please Touch shakes off all of the traditional museum-goer behavior and asks visitors to use their sense of touch to experience the exhibition.

For Please Touch, the museum commissioned a group of regional artists to create new works that actively engage audiences of all ages. Erin Guido creates brightly colored dynamic shape and text murals often found in surprising places, like abandoned buildings, offering friendly encouragement as they declare “come over all the time” or “hi.” Jordan Elise and Christopher Lees create mounted animal sculptures they call Horrible Adorables and design patterns for fabric and wallpaper, as well as plastic toys for Kid Robot. Inspired by skateboarding and D.I.Y. culture, Jay Croft’s illustrations have donned skateboard decks, his zine Street Canoe, and most recently, a mural at Chill Ice Cream in downtown Akron.

Read our interview with Jay Croft.

For Please Touch, each artist has created an interactive work that visitors can touch and manipulate as they make meaning of it in their own ways.

Please Touch is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by a generous gift from The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation.

A Conversation with Please Touch Artist Jay Croft

Interview conducted by Alison Caplan, Akron Art Museum Director of Education

Inspired by skateboarding and D.I.Y. culture, Jay Croft’s illustrations have donned skateboard decks, his zine Street Canoe, and most recently, a mural at Chill Ice Cream.

Can you talk about being a parent and an artist?

It’s the best thing ever! I love it. My kids are always drawing and making stuff. We definitely encourage them to create. Our house is filled with all types of markers, paint, papers, and glue. I encourage them to help me with some of my projects too. It’s pretty cool that they are so receptive to it.

Jay Croft, Friends, digital rendering, 2016

Jay Croft, Friends, digital rendering, 2016

Do you bring your kids to the museum?

Yes, we bring our kids to the museum for sure. We try to bring our kids to everything that we do. We want them to experience everything that they can growing up. Going to an art museum is something that I didn’t experience until I was much older than they are now. Not that my parents wouldn’t do it. The opportunity never really presented itself. I think the world is way more kid friendly than when I was growing up.

We are always trying to come up with cool things to do with the kids and what better thing to do than go to the art museum.

Jay Croft, Friends, installation view in Please Touch 2017

How did you come up with the idea for this work?

The inspiration actually came from a puzzle that the kids own. I just wanted it to be as fun and hands on as possible. Plus, I always liked the idea of mashing things up and putting things where they might not actually belong.

Jay Croft, installation view, Please Touch 2017

Jay Croft, installation view, Please Touch 2017

How does/has DIY culture influence/d your artmaking?

Besides my grandpa, it’s the one thing that has pushed it the most. As a kid growing up in Ohio, skateboarding and listening to punk rock music was the one thing that made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself. Even though I probably didn’t understand it like I do now. I just couldn’t get enough of it. From looking at skateboard magazines, to the liner notes in punk rock records, it made me feel like I could do it too. It made me realize that there wasn’t much separating me from the people I was checking out. I have always tried to go against the grain. Not in a rebellious way, but in a way that I could make it my own. I never wanted to be like anyone else. Not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of being true to myself.

It seems like all of the artist in show have some connection to childhood games or picture books in their work. Do you have a favorite childhood game or book?

It’s funny, I don’t think I actually do have a favorite book as a child. But, I have always wanted to make my own kids book ever since I can remember. Maybe someday it will happen…

Jay Croft’s artwork is on view and accessible along with artwork by Erin Guido & John Paul Costello and Jordan Elise & Christopher Lees (Horrible Adorables) in Please Touch at the Akron Art Museum through July 16, 2017. Look for interviews with Erin Guido, John Paul Costello, Jordan Elise and Christopher Lees coming soon!

Please Touch shakes off all of the traditional museum-goer behavior and asks visitors to use their sense of touch to experience the exhibition.

For Please Touch, the museum commissioned a group of regional artists to create new works that actively engage audiences of all ages. Erin Guido creates brightly colored dynamic shape and text murals often found in surprising places, like abandoned buildings, offering friendly encouragement as they declare “come over all the time” or “hi.” Jordan Elise and Christopher Lees create mounted animal sculptures they call Horrible Adorables and design patterns for fabric and wallpaper, as well as plastic toys for Kid Robot. Inspired by skateboarding and D.I.Y. culture, Jay Croft’s illustrations have donned skateboard decks, his zine Street Canoe, and most recently, a mural at Chill Ice Cream in downtown Akron.

For Please Touch, each artist has created an interactive work that visitors can touch and manipulate as they make meaning of it in their own ways.

Please Touch is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by a generous gift from The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation.

An Interview With Our Land Artist, Bob Herbst

Bob Herbst, Green River Overlook, After the Storm, 2006, platinum/palladium print, 12 x 20 in., courtesy of the artist

Bob Herbst, Green River Overlook, After the Storm, 2006, platinum/palladium print, 12 x 20 in., courtesy of the artist

Interview conducted by Theresa Bembnister, Akron Art Museum Associate Curator

Akron Art Museum: Can you explain to me your interest in photographing the American West, specifically the national parks?

Bob Herbst: In 1993 I decided to take a photography workshop in southern Utah which involved camping out in the desert and photographing for a week. My wife and I were raised in camping-oriented families and had done canoeing expeditions for the 10 years prior in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, so it sounded like something I would enjoy. I added a few extra days on the front end of the trip and stopped at Zion and Bryce National Parks on my way from Las Vegas to the location of the workshop in what is now known as the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. I was hooked immediately. I had seen the Smoky Mountains and Yosemite, but nothing like the canyon country of southern Utah and northern Arizona. It was grand, peaceful, unlike anything I had ever seen, and like another planet in some cases. It was a beautiful place to photograph but just being there was enough for me. I camped out in the desert in a small tent under the stars, occasionally staying at a motel for a break, a soft bed, and a good hearty meal.

Jane went with me in 1994. I did solo trips in 1995 and 1996, and two trips with my best friend in 1997 and 1999. I returned in 2005 and 2006 with a different friend who had also explored some of the same areas himself for a number of years. With two four-wheel-drive vehicles, we could go places where it wouldn’t be safe for just one…and we did. Health and day job issues kept me away for a while but I returned in 2012 for what I considered my last “hurrah!” It was time to move on. I have years of printing ahead.

Your question caused me to reminisce a little and I found a picture that another workshop student took of me on the canyon country exploratory in 1993. I could carry that camera pack and tripod all day back then. This is where the 20-year odyssey started. The canyon country of southern Utah and northern Arizona is a very special place for me. Many of the national parks and national monuments are not well known which made exploring them all the more special over 20 years.

Herbst poses in canyon country in 1993, courtesy of the artist

Herbst poses in canyon country in 1993, courtesy of the artist

At least one of the scenes you captured in your photographs in Our Land is no longer accessible to the general public, correct? How did you reach that overlook and why is it no longer available to park visitors?

Actually, both images are taken at standard viewpoints in the parks easily accessible by car. The image at Bryce Point is gone because split rail fences have been erected in the foreground in an attempt to restrict tourists from getting too close to the edge. The areas I mentioned that are no longer accessible are typically land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, a federal government branch. They have fewer resources than the National Park Service and manage far more land so they sometimes have to close areas due to funding issues. The National Park Service does an absolutely wonderful job of keeping the parks in southern Utah and northern Arizona accessible. In this country, it is not unusual for numerous dirt and gravel roads to be washed out completely several times a year. A single thunderstorm in Canyonlands National Park can change everybody’s plans on the White Rim Road. I have had that experience. Our trip out from Toroweep in the Grand Canyon National Park was similar after a major thunderstorm that wiped out roads all over the area. We made it out with a National Forest Service fire truck behind us if we got stuck – an angel on our shoulders! The park service has regular ranger patrols to help broken down or stuck visitors and to report road conditions. They repair the roads as quickly as conditions allow. I have been very impressed during my travels throughout the parks and have nothing but praise for the National Park Service.

Bob Herbst, Bryce Point, Snowy October Morning, 1994, platinum/palladium print, 16 x 12 in., courtesy of the artist

Bob Herbst, Bryce Point, Snowy October Morning, 1994, platinum/palladium print, 16 x 12 in., courtesy of the artist

Your photographs of the American West are remarkable, but you’ve also taken pictures of national park scenery closer to home. What can you tell me about your photographs of the Ohio Turnpike bridges in Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

Bob Herbst, Old Bridge Rubble, 2002, platinum/palladium print, 12 x 20 in., courtesy of the artist

Bob Herbst, Old Bridge Rubble, 2002, platinum/palladium print, 12 x 20 in., courtesy of the artist

I began photographing the turnpike bridges in 2002 when I started working with a 12×20 inch view camera. Digital negatives were in their infancy at that time so you still needed a big negative for big prints. Because of the size and weight of all of the associated equipment, I needed local subjects for working with the camera. My wife and I had spent a lot of time in the Cuyahoga Valley on towpath trails walking our dog and when I was chasing the Cuyahoga Valley Line steam train up and down the valley in the late 1980s. The scale of the new bridges captivated me, especially when viewed from below. They were part way through the construction of the second bridge at the time. Some of the very first 12×20 negatives I shot were of the bridges.

Bob Herbst, Bridge Piers, 2002, platinum/palladium print, 20 x 12 in., courtesy of the artist

Bob Herbst, Bridge Piers, 2002, platinum/palladium print, 20 x 12 in., courtesy of the artist

A 12×20 camera made from brass and mahogany with a red bellows tends to attract attention where ever you are. One Saturday I was shooting the bridges from Riverview Road and a man stopped by out of curiosity. He saw the camera and we chatted for a while. He turned out to be the supervisor of the entire turnpike bridge construction project for the main contractor. He gave me permission to photograph on the construction site on the weekends when they weren’t working and gave me one of his business cards for any questions I might get from others. I returned periodically until both bridges were complete and the last of the old bridges was dynamited and demolished.

Bob Herbst, Finished Bridges, 2002, platinum/palladium print, 20 x 12 in., courtesy of the artist

Bob Herbst, Finished Bridges, 2002, platinum/palladium print, 20 x 12 in., courtesy of the artist

I would also like for you to see an iconic image from 1989 in what was then the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, still administered by the National Park Service. The “National Park” designation came in 2000. The train was pulled by a steam locomotive, No. 4070, and known as the Cuyahoga Valley Line. It ran between Howard Street in Akron and Cleveland. The next year I spent the winter photographing the refurbishment of the locomotive in the old B&O roundhouse in the flats of Cleveland. After chasing it up and down the river valley all summer and fall, I captured the attached image at the Ira Road crossing near Hale Farm. A catastrophic mechanical failure early the following year sidelined the locomotive forever. Diesel locomotives have pulled the CVSR excursion train ever since.

Bob Herbst, No. 4070 at Ira Rd. Crossing, 1989, platinum/palladium print, courtesy of the artist

Bob Herbst, No. 4070 at Ira Rd. Crossing, 1989, platinum/palladium print, courtesy of the artist

What type of camera do you use?

I have used a variety of camera formats over the years progressing through 35mm, 2-1/4” square, 4×5, 8×10, 12×20, and digital. Bryce Point, Snowy October Morning was shot with a 4×5 camera. The print is from a digitally enlarged negative made on an Epson ink jet printer. Green River Overlook, After the Storm was shot with a 12×20 camera, so the print is a contact print from the original 12×20 film negative. Platinum/palladium printing is a contact printing process so you need a negative the size of the print you want. Up until about 13 years ago when digital negatives became a viable option, the other options for creating large negatives was to either shoot with a large format camera, or employ a tedious multi-step wet darkroom process to create enlarged film negatives from smaller negatives. In 2002 I wrote an article in View Camera magazine about that process. I now print almost entirely from digital negatives made on an Epson ink jet printer. The source of the image can be a scan of any size of film, b&w or color negatives or color transparencies, or from direct digital capture from a phone, digital camera, or scanner.

Herbst’s 12x20 camera at Hatch Point overlooking Shafer Canyon, courtesy of the artist

Herbst’s 12×20 camera at Hatch Point overlooking Shafer Canyon, courtesy of the artist

Why do you print your work using the platinum/palladium method?

I started printing black and white silver gelatin in the camera club darkroom at Goodyear Jr. High School in Akron in 1970. I was the quintessential high school yearbook and newspaper photographer at Akron East High School from 1971-1974 and did senior pictures in college after that. In 1991, at the urging of a friend, I took an evening class on platinum/palladium printing at Kent State University. I fell in love with the process. It renders images so much more beautifully than what I could get from silver gelatin. Platinum prints have a subtle tonal rendering, a smoother scale, an inner luminescence, and ability to represent a greater scale of light than is possible in traditional silver gelatin papers or ink jet prints. The images appear to have more depth because the coating solution soaks deep into the paper. A traditional silver gelatin print has an emulsion that sits on top of the paper making the image look more two-dimensional. Ink jet prints are mostly ink on the surface of the paper.

But as much as anything, for me, platinum/palladium printing is about the handmade print…made one at a time, coated with a brush, processed in trays, and placed on screens to dry, all by my hand.

Our Land, an exhibition of photographs of areas under the management of the National Park Service, is on view through February 12, 2017 in the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Gallery. The exhibition includes the photographs Bryce Point, Snowy October Morning and Green River Overlook, After the Storm by Bob Herbst, along with photographs by Richard Misrach, Ansel Adams, Masumi Hayashi, Ricky Rhodes, Marilyn Bridges and others.

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

Pastel drawings on display in Erik Neff’s studio.

Pastel drawings on display in Erik Neff’s studio.

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.

Small paintings stored in a flat file in Erik Neff’s studio.

Small paintings stored in a flat file in Erik Neff’s studio.

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.

Erik Neff’s paintings in their natural habitat.

Erik Neff’s paintings in their natural habitat.

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.

The studio mascots in the studio.

The studio mascots in the studio.

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.

Paul O’Keeffe’s stash of acrylic.

Paul O’Keeffe’s stash of acrylic.

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.

The early stage of a distant silence XXX and XXI.

The early stage of a distant silence XXX and XXI.

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.

Sketches pinned to the wall in Janice Lessman-Moss’ studio.

Sketches pinned to the wall in Janice Lessman-Moss’ studio.

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.

Janice Lessman-Moss’ “crayon box.”

Janice Lessman-Moss’ “crayon box.”

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.

Janice Lessman-Moss sharing the "crayon-box" during her talk at the NEO Geo opening reception. Photo: Shane Wynn.

Janice Lessman-Moss sharing the “crayon box” during her talk at the NEO Geo opening reception. Photo: Shane Wynn.

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. 

Dana Schutz, Fight in an Elevator 2, 2015, Oil on canvas, 96 x 90 inches

Dana Schutz, Fight in an Elevator 2, 2015, Oil on canvas, 96 x 90 in.

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.

Dana Schutz, Lion and Tamer, 2015, Charcoal on paper, 44 x 30 inches

Dana Schutz, Lion and Tamer, 2015, Charcoal on paper, 44 x 30 in.

Wandering on, I perused Wolfgang Tillmans’s expansive installation, and a mini-retrospective for Squeak Carnwath, whose work I admired as a curator in Northern California.

Wolfgang Tillmans, PCR (installation detail), 2015

Wolfgang Tillmans, PCR (installation detail), 2015

 

Squeak Carnwath, Beautiful Ugly, 2008, Oil and alkyd on canvas over panel, 90 x 80 in

Squeak Carnwath, Beautiful Ugly, 2008, Oil and alkyd on canvas over panel, 90 x 80 in.

 

Rachel Rossin, Roses Re-topo, 2015, Oil on canvas, 52 x 37 in.

Rachel Rossin, Roses Re-topo, 2015, Oil on canvas, 52 x 37 in.

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.

 

Louise Fishman, IT IS GOOD TO KNOW CERTAIN THINGS, 2015, oil on linen, 70 x 88 in.

Louise Fishman, IT IS GOOD TO KNOW CERTAIN THINGS, 2015, oil on linen, 70 x 88 in.

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).

Lorna Simpson, on view in Greater New York, through March 7, 2016

Lorna Simpson, on view in Greater New York (MOMA PS1), through March 7, 2016

 

Donald Moffett, on view in Greater New York (MOMA PS1), through March 7, 2016

Donald Moffett, on view in Greater New York (MOMA PS1), through March 7, 2016

 

Lutz Bacher, Donald Moffett, on view in Greater New York (MOMA PS1), through March 7, 2016

Lutz Bacher, on view in Greater New York (MOMA PS1), through March 7, 2016

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.

Teresita Fernández, Fata Morgana, Madison Square Park public commission, on view through winter of 2016

Teresita Fernández, Fata Morgana, Madison Square Park public commission, on view through winter of 2016

From there I went to see an exhibition of Martin Puryear drawings at the Morgan Library.

Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions, on view through January 10, 2016

Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions, on view through January 10, 2016

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.

Aka Pereyma, featured in The Ukrainian Diaspora: Women Artists 1908–2015, Through February 14, 2016 at the Ukrainian Museum

Aka Pereyma, featured in The Ukrainian Diaspora: Women Artists 1908–2015, Through February 14, 2016 at the Ukrainian Museum

 

Christina Pereyma, featured in The Ukrainian Diaspora: Women Artists 1908–2015, Through February 14, 2016 at the Ukrainian Museum

Christina Pereyma, featured in The Ukrainian Diaspora: Women Artists 1908–2015, Through February 14, 2016 at the Ukrainian Museum

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.

Jim Shaw, Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky, 2009. Installation; acrylic on muslin canvas stretched over plywood panels, dimensions variable, on view at the New Museum through January 10, 2016.

Jim Shaw, Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky, 2009. Installation; acrylic on muslin canvas stretched over plywood panels, dimensions variable, on view at the New Museum through January 10, 2016.

 

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, (Dissipate) Airborne 6: Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes, 2015, flat screen, Kinect, computer, custom-made software, 85 in. screen, dimensions variable

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, (Dissipate) Airborne 6: Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes, 2015, flat screen, Kinect, computer, custom-made software, 85 in. screen, dimensions variable

Zach Harris was another artist whose work drew my attention as I proceeded through densely-packed streets.

Zach Harris, Linen Last Judgment, 2014-2015, water based paint, ink, linen, wood, 72 x 54 1/2 x 7/8 inches

Zach Harris, Linen Last Judgment, 2014-2015, water based paint, ink, linen, wood, 72 x 54 1/2 x 7/8 in.

 

Karen Kunc, (below) Vastness 2014-15 bookwork: woodcut, letterpress, collagraph 5.25" x 4.25" folded, 5.25" x 37" open

Karen Kunc, (below) Vastness 2014-15 bookwork: woodcut, letterpress, collagraph 5.25  x 4.25 in. folded, 5.25  x 37 in. open

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.

Anthony Mastromatteo, mural

Anthony Mastromatteo, mural, Elan, East 20th Street, NY

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.

view of John Newman's studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

view of John Newman’s studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

 

view of John Newman's studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

view of John Newman’s studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

 

view of John Newman's studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

view of John Newman’s studio by Janice Driesbach (October 2015)

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.

Pablo Picasso, Head of a Woman, 1929-30

Pablo Picasso, Head of a Woman, 1929-30

 

Pablo Picasso, Bust of a Woman, 1930-32

Pablo Picasso, Bust of a Woman, 1930-32

 

Robert Rauschenberg, Canyon, 1959, Oil, pencil, paper, metal, photograph, fabric, wood, canvas, buttons, mirror, taxidermied eagle, cardboard, pillow, paint tube and other materials

Robert Rauschenberg, Canyon, 1959, Oil, pencil, paper, metal, photograph, fabric, wood, canvas, buttons, mirror, taxidermied eagle, cardboard, pillow, paint tube and other materials

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.

Stanley Whitney, Dance the Orange

Stanley Whitney, Dance the Orange

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.]

Matthew Kolodziej, Lost on a Straight Line

Matthew Kolodziej, Lost on a Straight Line

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.

Paul Henry Ramirez, Eccentric Stimuli 10

Paul Henry Ramirez, Eccentric Stimuli 10

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.

Nancy Lorenz, Platinum

Nancy Lorenz, Platinum

 

Nancy Lorenz Elements opening at Morgan Lehman Gallery

Nancy Lorenz Elements opening at Morgan Lehman Gallery

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.

Sheila Hicks, Hangzou Sunday, 2015

Sheila Hicks, Hangzou Sunday, 2015

 

Sheila Hicks, 2015

Sheila Hicks, 2015

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.

Sheila Hicks, Sivad Needle, 2015

Sheila Hicks, Sivad Needle, 2015

On way to the galleries clustered around Fifth Avenue I spied a wonderful El Anatsui in the lobby at the Bloomberg headquarters.

El Anatsui, Bloomberg Building, New York City

El Anatsui, Bloomberg Building, New York City

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.

Ursula van Rydingsvard, Bloomberg Building, New York City

Ursula van Rydingsvard, Bloomberg Building, New York City

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.

Lee Friedlander, Arizona, 1999

Lee Friedlander, Arizona, 1999

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 . . .

Andrew Massulo, 6052, 2014-15

Andrew Massulo, 6052, 2014-15

 

Andrew Massulo Recent Paintings, Tibor de Nagy Gallery through December 5, 2015

Andrew Massulo Recent Paintings, Tibor de Nagy Gallery through December 5, 2015

Rineke Dijkstra‘s three-channel video was as beautiful as the poses assumed by young students at the St. Petersburg Gymnastics School astonished.

Rineke Dijkstra, The Gymschool, St. Petersburg, 2014

Rineke Dijkstra, The Gymschool, St. Petersburg, 2014

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.

Trevor Paglen, 2015

Trevor Paglen, 2015

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.

Beatriz Milhazes, Maracujola, 2015

Beatriz Milhazes, Maracujola, 2015

 

Check back next week for Part 2 of Janice Driesbach’s New York trip.