A Look Back Into the Archives: La Wilson

By Alex Lynch, Kent State University Practicum Student

We’re featuring local artist La Wilson for the second time in our galleries. Her first show, Metaphorical Objects, was at the museum from November 14, 1986 – January 18, 1987, and highlighted the charm and wittiness found in the ordinary, everyday objects of our culture.

The examining, collecting, sorting and assembling that is Wilson’s art is evident in her current exhibition, Objects Transformed, on view through September 21, 2014.


Interchange by La Wilson

Interchange and New York Brush, also featured in Metaphorical Objects, are on view along with works borrowed from local collectors and seldom seen works from the collection.

Want to learn more about La Wilson and her artwork? Visit the museum library and check out our books La Wilson Five Decades, 240 College Street and The Art of La Wilson.

La Wilson002

La Wilson on a motorcycle in 2002


A Look Back into the Archives is a new, regularly occurring segment on our blog. Check back for fun facts about the museum, hilarious old photos and juicy tidbits culled from our archives.

How To: Bathtub Snow Graffiti

By Amanda Crowe, Assistant Educator

Follow-up to “Winter Wonderland” Playdate, Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

When ice storms block your children from going outside, you can still give them the opportunity to be spontaneous and creative with nature by bringing the outside in.

Snow.  One of the most elemental, memorable art mediums from your childhood.  Recreate those memories for your little ones by making your bathtub the canvas!  With easy clean up and minimal effort, your child can be the bathtub graffiti artist of your household.

Materials needed:

  • Large empty container for carrying snow
  • Spray bottles filled with water and various colors

Note: Dilute a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolor into each bottle.  Crayola poster paints watered down will also work. Test surfaces for staining first before painting.

  • If spray bottles are unavailable, use old ketchup or mustard bottles, squeezable jelly containers, a turkey baster or ear and nose syringe
  • Bathtub full of snow
  • Apron and towels
  • Extras: Popsicle or craft sticks, marbles, toy people and animals, sand toys such as small buckets and shovels, stuff from the kitchen such as measuring spoons and rolling pins, essential oils such as lavender or peppermint, and, of course, glitter.
Bathtub Graffiti

Bathtub Snow Graffiti


For starters, I like to mix up three bottles of primary colors: red, yellow and blue.  That way, your child is not only creating, but learning about color mixing and combinations. The more colors, the better.  But even one bottle of colored “paint” will do.

For an educational yet playful experience, try lining up the bottles on the tub’s edge.  Refer to the spray bottles as your child’s “artist tools,” the colored water as the “color palette,” and the white snow as “your canvas.”

Now…start spraying!

Additional Idea Prompts:

Remember, you can adjust the spray nozzle for a lesson about lines – fat, thin, wiggly.  Or create a splatter effect and discuss street artists who use graffiti as a form of expression.  Use the toy animals to make painted animal tracks.  Arrange random toys to make a collage.  Hide items and take turns counting how many your child finds.  Spell words in the snow using magnetic letters or alphabet blocks.  Create a LEGO Arctic landscape. Once the fun starts, there are endless opportunities for spending meaningful time playing in the snow together.

If the snow is too cold for little hands, try an alternative:

Shaving cream and baking soda.  Stir equal amounts of each until the snow becomes a thick, mousse consistency.  This “snow” can also be combined with food coloring or watercolor paint.  Try fingerpainting with it on sturdy paper plates for a snowy masterpiece you can keep – as it will air dry and harden overnight.


Kids Studio: Lego Landscape
Saturday, February 15, 2014

Give your “mini figures” their own mini world by creating a diorama—an entire landscape in a box that you can carry with you.  The imaginative world you design may appear as a freeze frame in history or tell a story about the future, or both!  Build your dream-like diorama using a blend of mediums and materials, including: Lego bricks, acrylic paint, clay, plaster, found and recycled objects and wire.  Key sculptural works in the Museum’s collection as well as the current exhibition of artist Diana Al-Hadid’s “Nolli’s Orders” will be explored.

Studio class is 12-3 pm.  Cost per class $10/member child, $15/non-member child.  Registration is required. Ages 5-7. 

Story Time in the Galleries
Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Quilt, by Ann Jonas: A small African-American girl is overjoyed with the new patchwork quilt her parents have made. As she sleeps, it comes alive, turning into a fantastical dreamscape she must enter in order to find her beloved stuffed dog. Travel to the studio after the story and share stories with local quilters while you make your own “no-sew” story quilt.

No registration required.  

Story Time is 11:15 am – 12:15 pm on the third Thursday of each month, when the museum offers complimentary gallery admission to all visitors. No registration required.  ALL AGES welcome!

Family Day: Printmakingpalooza!
Saturday, February 22, 2014

Have you ever used a rubber stamp or peeled silly putty off newspaper?  If you answered yes, then you’ve created a print.  Experimenting with printmaking allows young artists to try out different techniques and to see cause and effect in action more dramatically than with simply painting or drawing. Your budding master printmaker will enjoy testing unusual mediums like Jell-O and shaving cream at our printmaking “buffet,” which includes: mono-printing on the tabletop, gyotaku, or Japanese fish rubbing, printing with wheels, mirror-image string prints, Styrofoam, bubble wrap, and muffin tin printing, and macaroni collagraphs.

12-4 pm. Admission is free for families. No registration required. ALL AGES welcome!

Lego Landscape

Gravity and Grace Installation: Des Moines Art Center

By: Ellen Rudolph, Senior Curator

El Anatsui and Ellen Rudolph

El Anatsui and Ellen Rudolph

It was very exciting to see Gravity and Grace installed in Des Moines! Because the Des Moines Art Center has three distinctive buildings and the exhibition was disbursed throughout, the work took on a different character in each space. Our chief preparator and exhibition designer Joe Walton spent several days in advance of El’s arrival helping the Des Moines crew get up to speed with hanging and sculpting. El arrived the Monday before the opening and was more hands-on with the installation this time around, so it was great to see the works that he had a major hand in shaping (Drain Pipe, Gravity and Grace and Ozone Layer, which had fans behind it to make the hanging elements flutter).

Installation of Gli here

Installation of Gli here

Installation of Gli at Brooklyn Museum

Installation of Gli at Brooklyn Museum

Installation of Gli at Des Moines Art Center
Installation of Gli at Des Moines Art Center

The works in the I.M. Pei building looked amazing against the hammer-brushed concrete walls and with natural light filling the space. Other works are integrated with Des Moine’s collection, most stunningly Garden Wall, which hangs in the Richard Meier building in a niche that looks like it was created just for the piece. You can view it from above, which is perfect for highlighting the floor components. Near it hangs a gorgeous Morris Louis painting with similar acid-green coloring, along with a John Chamberlain sculpture whose crushed steel reminds us of the metal bottle tops.

Gravity and Grace installed here

Gravity and Grace installed here

Gravity and Grace installed at Des Moines Art Center

Gravity and Grace installed at Des Moines Art Center

Between Akron, Brooklyn and Des Moines, the architecture and gallery layouts have affected the appearance of the art as much as the different approaches to shaping and sculpting the work. Can’t wait to see what happens in Miami and San Diego!

Each installation of Red Block has been different.

Each installation of Red Block has been different. Here you can compare and contrast our installation (top) with the installations at Brooklyn Museum and Des Moines Art Center. Collection of The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica

Art Shuffle

By: Elizabeth Carney, Curatorial Assistant

This week, the artworks are being removed from three galleries—but don’t worry, the walls won’t be empty for long (and there will still be plenty of art to see during these changes!)

The floors won’t be bare, either. Diana Al-Hadid’s monumental sculpture Nolli’s Orders will all but fill the space of the first room in the Sandra L. and Dennis B. Haslinger Family Foundation Galleries when this special exhibition opens the evening of November 22.

Diana Al-Hadid: Nolli's Orders

Diana Al-Hadid: Nolli’s Orders


The other 2 galleries will reopen on November 6. A few paintings will be put away for a while, but this means that visitors will have a chance to see other works from the collection, including John Baldassari’s Six Colorful Gags (Male) (1991), Seydou Keïta’s untitled portrait (around 1957–1960, printed later), and some other surprises.


John Baldessari, Six Colorful Gags (Male) , 1991

John Baldessari, Six Colorful Gags (Male) , 1991

Seydou Keïta’s untitled portrait (around 1957–1960, printed later)

Seydou Keïta’s untitled portrait (around 1957–1960, printed later)

Some favorite artworks, including Chuck Close’s Linda (1950) will be returned to their current spots—and we will be adding a Chuck Close screenprint, Alex/Reduction Print (1993).


Chuck Close, Alex/Reduction Print , 1993

Chuck Close, Alex/Reduction Print , 1993

Mickalene Thomas’s Girlfriends and Lovers (2008) is moving to a different gallery—come see what you think!

Art by Chuck Close and Mickalene Thomas in art storage during reinstallation.

Art by Chuck Close and Mickalene Thomas in art storage during reinstallation.

The museum collection includes over 5,000 works of art. Remember, even though we can’t display everything, the majority of the collection is available to view, explore, learn about, and discover on our website!

Real/Surreal is Coming Soon

By: Janice Driesbach, Chief Curator

Edward Hopper, Railroad Sunset, 1929, oil on canvas, 29 1/4 x 48 in., Josephine N. Hopper Bequest, Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art

Edward Hopper, Railroad Sunset, 1929, oil on canvas, 29 1/4 x 48 in., Josephine N. Hopper Bequest, Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art

It’s just over four weeks before Real/Surreal opens and Akron Art Museum curatorial, education and design staff have been planning the installation for  months. Although the exhibition is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, we are personalizing it for our Akron visitors.

Our efforts respond to input we received from our constituents in surveys and a focus group last fall.  We learned our visitors are interested in knowing about the historic context in which the artists were working, so we’ve created a timeline for our installation. As well, our respondents indicated an interest in having the artworks installed thematically, so we are presenting the exhibition in sections.

For the first section, we have selected paintings that can be best described as Realist (Charles Sheeler, Andrew Wyeth) and most Surrealist (Man Ray and Yves Tanguy) to contrast the two styles.  Succeeding sections include Alone in the City, Interior Portraits, Social Concern, Empty Landscapes, Leisure, and Man and Machine.  There will also be an expanded section of surrealist photography, reflecting the importance of photography to surrealist artists and to the Akron Art Museum, and three short Surrealist films playing in our Jerry and Patsy Shaw Video Box.

We look forward to your comments on the Real/Surreal exhibition.  Please fill out the contact form below if you would like to be invited to take surveys and participate in community meetings to help us plan future museum exhibitions.

 Clarence John Laughlin, The Masks Grow to Us, 1950 (printed 1962), gelatin silver print, 13 7/8 in. x 11 in., Collection of the Akron Art Museum,  Gift of David Cooper  1997.19

Clarence John Laughlin, The Masks Grow to Us, 1950 (printed 1962), gelatin silver print, 13 7/8 in. x 11 in., Collection of the Akron Art Museum,
Gift of David Cooper 1997.19

Gravity and Grace Travels to Brooklyn, NYC

By: Arnold Tunstall, Collections Manager

Brooklyn_Arnie repair

We’ve begun the next phase of our El Anastui exhibition, Gravity and Grace – after its premiere here in Akron.  Since the exhibit closed last October, the staff has been working nearly every day to prepare it for the national tour.  Our preparators re-designed existing crates, new ones and developed packing methods.

And I went to Brooklyn to assist with the installation.

Watching Brooklyn Museum’s curatorial team re-imagine some of the works was very exciting.  A few pieces were literally turned upside down, parts of Peak were turned into a forest of tin can tree forms and most dramatically, the installation piece Gli (wall) went from a maze of screens visitors walked around in Akron to soaring translucent pieces climbing up the height of the impressive rotunda in Brooklyn.


While in New York, I was able to check in at Jack Shainman Gallery on the last day of Anatsui’s wonderful exhibition of new works. Later, I climbed up on the High Line to see how Anastui transformed the side of a building into a work of art with mirrored panels and rusty metal plates.  If you are in New York for the exhibition in Brooklyn, make sure to see this fantastic piece on the High Line (near 20th st.)


The Brooklyn Museum has posted a number of images and a wonderful stop-motion video of the installation process check it out:

A Week in Denver Part One: ART

By: Corey Jenkins, Communication Volunteer/Visitor Services

In December, I completed my B.A. in Communication Studies at Kent State University, and I decided it was time to take a short break. Two of my close friends had relocated to Denver last year, so I chose the Mile High City as my destination.

The Denver area has many geographic and cultural offerings, including everything from the Rocky Mountain foothills to Coors, the world’s largest single site brewery. One thing evident in the city is a strong commitment to art. In the late 1980’s Denver established a percent for art ordinance in which one percent of the design and construction budget of any single City capital improvement project over $1 million must be set aside for the inclusion of art in the new project. I was lucky enough to experience some of the city’s art offerings during my week in the area.

First Friday

I happened to be in town for First Friday in the Santa Fe Art District. The area reminded me of the Chelsea Art Galleries on a smaller scale and offered a wide variety of art. A highlight of this experience was my time at the Denver Art Society, an open-minded co-op in which many of its members keep workspaces. The artists involved in the Denver Art Society work in a wide range of mediums, and one member, Bill Manke creates “Tipsies” which are wooden toys that walk down a ramp. I was fortunate enough to purchase a piece from Travis Hetman, a Minnesota native who is an artist in residency at the Denver Art Society.

“My work is more or less a visual continuation of existential curiosity.  The treat of visual art to me is the privilege of making wild associations and the general lawlessness that comes with creative thinking.”  –Travis Hetman

I purchased a print of a drawing Hetman completed in 2009 titled The Volunteer and I returned later in the week to photograph several of his new works so that Hetman can upload them online.

Additionally, on my First Friday art walk was a visit to Core New Art Space, which was exhibiting Juego by Lola Montejo. Juego featured vibrant works that feel very active and full of motion. According to Montejo, the “work is about the process, the play.” The artist functions on intuition and considers the image to be “secondary to the art making.”

During my visit to the Denver Art Museum, their staff was in the process of taking down their Anatsui exhibit and the major exhibition was the world exclusive “Becoming Van Gogh.” Unfortunately, “Becoming Van Gogh” was sold out on the day of my visit. Fortunately, the Denver Art Museum is enormous and plenty of exciting exhibits were available to view.

fox games

I loved walking through Fox Games by Sandy Skoglund, the opportunity to view Oceanic art and the museum’s wonderful displays of design before and after 1900. The exhibit that left the most lasting impression with me however was the historic Western American art. Located on the top level of the North Building, the pieces are displayed along with small windows that do not affect the lighting within the gallery space, but provide stunning views of the Rocky Mountains. The museum makes fantastic use of its space, and provides many fun hands on activities, for example: I made a postcard!

MCA Heart

Finally, I made my way to the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Of the several exhibitions at MCA Denver, I favored Pie-Fights and Pathos. The paintings, by Adrian Ghenie are complex, thought provoking and pull inspiration from a range of sources such as early cinema pie fight film stills to twentieth-century acts of extremism. MCA Denver also offered hands on activities including a Bubble Garden for relaxing and an area to create a butterfly to pin up on the wall. The building also boasts a deck providing a great view of the city.

Bubble Garden

Denver is a town with a deep commitment to art; however, viewing art was only part of how I spent my time. Stop back next week to read about my experience having dinner at the Breckenridge Brewery and my visit to the Coors Brewery in nearby Golden.