Engagement

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.

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Immerse Yourself in Beauty Reigns

by Gina Thomas McGee, Associate Educator

How do you experience an art exhibition? You look, of course. You enter the galleries and spend time taking in the colors, textures, and lines of the works in front of you. Maybe you even read the label. During the Beauty Reigns exhibition, the museum invites you to take your experience a step further, and we’ve come up with some tools to help you do just that.

Beauty Reigns Gallery Guide Designed by Micah Kraus

Beauty Reigns Gallery Guide Designed by Micah Kraus

First, you can pick up a copy of the gallery guide as you stroll through the exhibition. This guide (a work of art in itself!) will let you in on the mysteries of the artistic process. The sketchbook-like booklet was created by local designer, artist, and educator Micah Kraus. He was inspired by the artwork in the exhibition and the aesthetic of Field Notes notebooks. The guide looks like an artist’s sketchbook and it can become one, as there are blank pages in the back dedicated to your personal sketches and doodles.

Beauty Reigns Gallery Guide Designed by Micah Kraus

Beauty Reigns Gallery Guide Designed by Micah Kraus

Beauty Reigns Gallery Guide Designed by Micah Kraus

Beauty Reigns Gallery Guide Designed by Micah Kraus

As you finish looking at the exhibition and reading your gallery guide, you’ll be directed to a studio that has been constructed just outside of the gallery doors, in what we call the “video box”. Here, you’ll find a wealth of materials that will allow you to try out the techniques and processes you saw on display in the galleries. Continuing the theme of working with local artists, the studio includes an instructional film with original music and animation by Akron Art Museum staff member Gabe Schray, whose talents go far beyond his work in the museum’s External Affairs department.

Jerry and Patsy Shaw Video Box Beauty Reigns video created by Gabe Schray. Photo by Chris Rutan Photography

Jerry and Patsy Shaw Video Box. Beauty Reigns video created by Gabe Schray. Photo by Chris Rutan Photography

Finally, you can take a walk through an artwork. Literally. The museum commissioned local artist Jessica Lofthus to create a large-scale interactive artwork for the lobby inspired by Beauty Reigns. The piece is a walkable labyrinth that takes cues from the patterns, textures, and shapes found in the exhibition. Walking the labyrinth will add another dimension to your museum experience as you physically wind through the curves and turns of Lofthus’ design.

Akron Carpet Labyrinth designed and assembled by Jessica Lofthus with materials provided by Shaw Contract Group

Akron Carpet Labyrinth designed and assembled by Jessica Lofthus with materials provided by Shaw Contract Group

Akron Carpet Labyrinth designed and assembled by Jessica Lofthus with materials provided by Shaw Contract Group, photo by Chris Rutan Photography

Akron Carpet Labyrinth designed and assembled by Jessica Lofthus with materials provided by Shaw Contract Group, photo by Chris Rutan Photography

So, visit the museum. Look. Make. Create. Feel. Take in the exhibition with all of your senses. It promises to be a Beauty-full experience.

2014 Highlights

By Mark Masuoka, Executive Director and CEO

2014 has been a year in which we sought to connect the energy that drives great art to that which drives our great city: the energy of ideas. In every exhibition, program, event, and conversation, we strove to stimulate ideas and encouraged everyone to look at what they already do in a new light, and to recognize the ways in which we all Live Creative. What follows is a brief recounting of what we did to Live Creative, to reach out to our community and to initiate a new civic presence that will revitalize the cultural health and wellness of Akron. Thank you for being a part of the Akron Art Museum in 2014; join us for all that we will do in 2015.

Jamie Burmeister’s Message Matters began a yearlong love affair with Akron. The project’s blinking lights were switched on in the east stairwell of the art museum’s 1899 building on February 14, 2014, sending out the Morse code message LUV U to the community.

La Wilson, Retrospective

La Wilson, Retrospective, 2004–2006, assemblage, 34.875 x 46.25 x 9.125 in

La Wilson: Objects Transformed  was the backdrop for the artist’s 90th birthday and a mini retrospective that assembled works from the art museum’s collection and from private collections throughout Northeast Ohio.  The works in the exhibition spanned her fifty-plus year career and brought together her family, friends and fans to celebrate her art and her life.

Tony Feher’s Buoy brought renewed attention to the museum’s world-class architecture and begged the question, What the heck is that red thing hanging from the museum’s roof?

Édouard Boubat, Lella, Bretagne, 1948,

Édouard Boubat, Lella, Bretagne, 1948, 1948 silver gelatin print, 13.375 x 9.625 in., Exhibited in Invitation to Stare: Photographic Portraits, Feb. 1 – June 1, 2014

Invitation to Stare was also an invitation to share the museum’s renowned photography collection.  The exhibition highlighted recent acquisitions and the museum’s long-standing commitment to photo portraiture that deserved a long hard look.

Installation view, Butch Anthony: Vita Post Mortem, Akron Art Museum 2014

Installation view, Butch Anthony: Vita Post Mortum, Akron Art Museum 2014

Butch Anthony: Vita Post Mortum featured the unconventional mixed media works that revealed the inner life of an unlikely art star.

Community Conversations: Connecting: Arts and Community, May 2014, Akron Art Museum

Community Conversations: Connecting: Arts and Community, May 2014, Akron Art Museum

Community Conversations became the art museum’s rallying cry and provided an opportunity for the art museum to seek public opinion. The conversations also allowed us to explore the nontraditional role of community facilitator and social organizer in an effort to better understand what is uniquely Akron.

Installation view, Diana al-Hadid, Nolli's Orders, steel, polymer gypsum, wood, foam, and paint, 156 x 264 x 228 in., Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, ©Diana al-Hadid, photo: Joe Levack

Installation view, Diana al-Hadid, Nolli’s Orders, steel, polymer gypsum, wood, foam, and paint, 156 x 264 x 228 in., Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, ©Diana al-Hadid, photo: Joe Levack

Diana Al-Hadid: Nolli’s Orders created a new focal point for visitors as they entered the museum’s Sandra L. and Dennis B. Haslinger Family Foundation Galleries. The room-sized sculpture proposed a new form and function for the gallery and offered a memorable art experience.

Cover images the 2014 issues of VIEW magazine

Cover images the 2014 issues of VIEW magazine

VIEW Magazine underwent a cover-to-cover overhaul, aesthetically revitalizing its look, feel and flow through its new design that connects the art museum’s online and digital experience with its seasonal print publication.

Installation view, Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing, photo: Joe Levack; Trenton Doyle Hancock installing Skin and Bones, photo: Akron Art Museum

Installation view, Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing, photo: Joe Levack; Trenton Doyle Hancock installing Skin and Bones, photo: Akron Art Museum

Trenton Doyle Hancock: Twenty Years of Drawings exhibition began with a two-week installation process that handed over the museum to Trenton to continue his creative process by re-contextualizing his work by drawing, writing and painting directly on the walls of the art museum.

Live Creative began as a way to brand the art museum’s education program and quickly grew into the art museum’s current mantra. We are not just asking people to be creative, but to find ways every day to live creative. It’s more than just a catchy tagline; it is a way of life. #LiveCreative

Inside|Out Akron installed a high quality reproduction of Raphael Gleitsmann's Winter Evening, c.1932 in downtown Akron, near the spot featured in the point of view in the painting.

Inside|Out Akron installed a high quality reproduction of Raphael Gleitsmann’s Winter Evening, c.1932 in downtown Akron, near the spot featured in the point of view in the painting.

Inside | Out brought Raphael Gleitsmann’s painting Winter Evening out of the art museum’s McDowell gallery and into the community.  Perfectly installed in downtown Akron at the site of its inspiration, the painting brings to light what Akron was in 1932 and what it can be in the future. #InsideOutAkron will bring more art from the art museum collection into Akron neighborhoods in 2015.

Farewell Buoy

IMG_3429

By Mark Masuoka, Executive Director and CEO

In many ways, the de-installation of Tony Feher’s Buoy is a sign of things to come, not what has been accomplished.  Over the past four months, the Akron Art Museum has offered the public the opportunity to re-envision the architecture of the art museum and to re-contextualize our urban surroundings.  Tony Feher’s Buoy had become part of the public conscientiousness and spurred conversation about contemporary art, even for those who did not identify it as art, but an unexpected anomaly hanging from the art museum.  Buoy has become etched in our memory and will soon become part of the urban folklore of Akron.  Farewell Buoy.