Akron Art Museum

An Interview with Mernet Larsen Pt. 1

In part one of our interview, Mernet discusses her artistic inspiration.

“Larsen’s statement says she is working ‘to offer a new perspective unto life.’ Certainly this exhibit offers a look at an artist who is doing contemplative and deeply investigative work, and gives us a chance to better know a unique voice.”—Anderson Turner, Akron Beacon Journal 

Mernet Larsen (b. 1940) makes intriguing, humor- and tension-infused paintings featuring geometric figures that inhabit space in ways that defy gravity and conventional viewpoints. The artist stages ordinary scenes—people playing cards or eating dinner, a faculty meeting, reading in bed—but constructs them with vertiginous, skewed spatial relationships that convey a sense of precariousness. The disorienting treatment of perspective places the viewer inside and outside of the paintings at the same time, “as if they’re wearing the situation,” the artist describes. Along with the figures’ deadpan facial expressions and subtle body language, Larsen’s puzzling compositions reveal an essence of everyday human interaction. Wry, anxious and awkward, the paintings are frozen monuments that are simultaneously alien and familiar.

Mernet Larsen: The Ordinary, Reoriented is organized by the Akron Art Museum with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.

An Interview with Allison Zuckerman Pt. 3

Allison Zuckerman: Pirate and Muse

October 27, 2018 – January 21, 2019

Go behind the scenes with Allison Zuckerman at the Akron Art Museum in part three of our interview. Allison talks about her use of technology and painting in the 21st century.

 

Allison Zuckerman, All Is Well, 2018, acrylic and archival CMYK ink on canvas, 60 x 80 in., Collection of Nicole D. Liarakos

Last Look Tour!

Saturday, January 19, 2019 • 10:30 am

Catch the works of Jeff Donaldson and Allison Zuckerman before the exhibitions close! Chief Curator Ellen Rudolph and Associate Curator Theresa Bembnister will discuss the ways in which both artists reference art history in their work.

Free for members. Registration required. Click the event about to register.

 

And take home a catalog of Pirate and Muse, available signed by the artist or unsigned from the Museum Shop. 

An Interview with Allison Zuckerman Pt. 2

Allison Zuckerman: Pirate and Muse

October 27, 2018 – January 21, 2019

Go behind the scenes with Allison Zuckerman at the Akron Art Museum in part two of our interview. Allison talks about feminist recontextualization of the female body in her work.

Join us for two Allison Zuckerman inspired events in January 2019:

Viola Frey, The World and the Woman, 1992, glazed ceramic, 80 x 142 x 75 in., Collection of the Akron Art Museum, Gift of Irving and Harriett Sands

Girls to the Front: Women Artists in the Akron Art Museum and Beyond

Famed art historian Linda Nochlin once pondered, “Why have there been no great women artists?” That is simply no longer the case. From Alma Thomas’ colorful Pond – Spring Awakening to Viola Frey’s massive sculpture The World and the Woman, the Akron Art Museum collection is full of great women artists. Explore female identifying artists in the collection on this hour-long tour that will culminate in an exploration of Allison Zuckerman: Pirate and Muse.

Allison Zuckerman, All Is Well, 2018, acrylic and archival CMYK ink on canvas, 60 x 80 in., Collection of Nicole D. Liarakos

Get Zucked: An Allison Zuckerman Inspired Tour Experience

Explore feminism, art history and digital art in an interactive scavenger hunt inspired by Allison Zuckerman: Pirate and Muse. Make a Zuckerman-inspired selfie, answer trivia questions and create an artwork ripped from the pages of an art history textbook.

 

And take home a catalog of Pirate and Muse, available signed or unsigned from the Museum Shop. 

Collection Feature: Richard Estes, Food City

by Associate Curator, Theresa Bembnister

Food City verges on abstraction, as colors, shapes and brushstrokes intermingle. Cars, taxis and vans flatten into the same space as the cashier’s pink uniform, the checkout counters and stacks of cigarette packs. The facades of multistory buildings merge with hand-lettered signs advertising chuck steaks at 39 cents a pound. Richard Estes crops his painting so the grocery store’s glass windows fill the entire composition. Exterior and interior elements dissolve into a single plane. This energetic visual potpourri mimics the vitality of the surrounding New York City.

Richard Estes, Food City, 1967, Oil, acrylic and graphite on fiberboard 48 in. x 68 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum, Purchased, by exchange, with funds raised by the Masked Ball 1955-1963

Richard Estes, Food City, 1967, Oil, acrylic and graphite on fiberboard, 48 in. x 68 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum, Purchased, by exchange, with funds raised by the Masked Ball 1955-1963

Richard Estes is known as one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated photorealist painters. In his case, however, that credit is a bit of misnomer. Estes’ paintings do not actually have the same level of veracity that viewers associate with photographic images. That’s not to say that the camera isn’t central to the artist’s process. He photographs his subjects, collaging multiple prints together to achieve his desired composition. Estes then subtly tweaks his imagery, removing some elements that appeared in the photographs and adding others. Nowadays, the 85-year-old artist accomplishes this with the help of Photoshop. Unlike other artists active in the photorealist movement, Estes never used a grid or a projector to transfer his photographs to canvas or board. Instead, the artist drew and painted freehand.

When Estes made Food City in 1967, the young artist primarily focused on his immediate urban surroundings as subject matter. This painting of a busy grocery store in New York City’s Upper West Side neighborhood provided him the opportunity to show off the lettering skills he picked up as a freelance illustrator. These gigs paid Estes’ bills until he was able to focus his attention on painting full time in 1966. The artist credits his commercial work, and not his earlier training at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with forcing him to master his craft. That work required him to translate photographs into painted illustrations for reproduction.

View more photorealistic artworks in the Akron Art Museum collection.

Collection Feature: Jackie Winsor, #2 Copper

by Associate Curator, Theresa Bembnister

Jackie Winsor (born 1941, St. John’s Island, Newfoundland, Canada) assembles sculptures out of unexpected components. She prefers organic materials such as rope, hemp, branches and logs or building supplies like concrete, nails and bricks.

Jackie Winsor, #2 Copper, 1976, Wood and copper, 34 1/2 x 51 x 51 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum, Purchased, by exchange, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Raymond C. Firestone

Jackie Winsor, #2 Copper, 1976, Wood and copper, 34 1/2 x 51 x 51 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum, Purchased, by exchange, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Raymond C. Firestone

Not one to shy away from difficult physical work, Winsor constructs her minimalist geometric forms through repetitive manual labor. For #2 Copper, the artist built a grid out of 36 narrow pieces of wood, arranged in three sections of concentric squares. She wrapped each intersection with #2 industrial copper wire, forming 72 balls. As a child, Winsor assisted her father as he built their family home. Both her youthful construction experience and her college education in painting informed this process. “As a painter I was very interested in drawing, so when I was working on sculptural shapes I was thinking of them as drawings, you know: a line goes around and around and around and around,” Winsor remarked. “Part of how I thought of these early pieces is you just make the form full and fatter and fatter and fatter until you’ve built a shape, much like we build a house: more bricks, more bricks, more bricks.”

Jackie Winsor, #2 Copper (detail), 1976, Wood and copper, 34 1/2 x 51 x 51 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum, Purchased, by exchange, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Raymond C. Firestone

Jackie Winsor, #2 Copper (detail), 1976, Wood and copper, 34 1/2 x 51 x 51 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum, Purchased, by exchange, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Raymond C. Firestone

Winsor introduced winding, a handiwork traditionally associated with soft, domestic materials such as yarn, to rough construction materials that are typically associated with masculinity. The result is a union of masculine and feminine sensibilities. Her slow and meticulous fabrication process is integral to the meaning of the finished works; labor imbues the sculpture with the memory of her physical actions. With her emphasis on the physical qualities and metaphorical associations of her materials, Winsor shares a kinship with many artists participating in Heavy Metal, on display in the Isroff Gallery.

Archival photo of #2 Copper installation in the Akron Art Museum gallery

Weighing approximately 2,000 pounds (or one ton), #2 Copper is a challenging artwork to install. First, a forklift or heavy-duty pallet jack is used to move the sculpture on a pallet to its desired location in the gallery. Exhibition technicians then slide three padded braces with a U-shaped key through the interior legs of the sculpture. Without the additional support, #2 Copper would collapse under its own weight. The sculpture is then lifted with a chain hoist and gantry. The pallet is removed from underneath and the artwork is lowered to the floor.

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.

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.