archives

A Look Back Into the Archives: Folk Art

By Mandy Tomasik, KSU library and information science practicum student

If you haven’t seen the new Butch Anthony: Vita Post Mortum exhibition yet, you really should. It’s phenomenal, and actually only the latest in a long line of folk, outsider and self-taught artist exhibitions here at the Akron Art Museum.

“But wait,” you say. “Doesn’t the Akron Art Museum have a modern and contemporary focus? What’s with the folk art?” I think Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. says it best: “American folk art both is and has been very much at home with modern art. Serious searching artists of the 20th Century, forced for various reasons to alienate themselves from academic art, or dissatisfied with the rise and fall of the experiments and “movements” of modern art, have been attracted to and strongly influenced by folk art in a search for re-appraisal and basic definitions of expressions and media.” (qtd. in Six Naives: Ashby, Borkowski, Fassanella, Nathaniel, Palladino, Tolson exhibition catalog, 1973, Akron Art Museum Archives)

Here’s Mary Borkowski, part of the December 1973-January 1974 Six Naives exhibition.

Mary Borkowski, from Six Naives: Ashby, Borkowski, Fassanella, Nathaniel, Palladino, Tolson exhibition catalog, 1973, Akron Art Museum Archives

Mary Borkowski, from Six Naives: Ashby, Borkowski, Fassanella, Nathaniel, Palladino, Tolson exhibition catalog, 1973, Akron Art Museum Archives

Just hanging with the cat, the picture of mid-century domesticity. But then in 1965, she began making embroidered thread pictures on felt or velvet backgrounds. These surreal images exude a mood of “melancholy and muted terror” (Six Naives: Ashby, Borkowski, Fassanella, Nathaniel, Palladino, Tolson exhibition catalog, 1973, Akron Art Museum Archives) that one wouldn’t possibly expect to come from that sweet cat lady.

The Whip and A Man’s A Man, from Six Naives: Ashby, Borkowski, Fassanella, Nathaniel, Palladino, Tolson exhibition catalog, 1973, Akron Art Museum Archives

The Whip and A Man’s A Man, from Six Naives: Ashby, Borkowski, Fassanella, Nathaniel, Palladino, Tolson exhibition catalog, 1973, Akron Art Museum Archives

A snake-man whipping a dog-man and a dapper gentleman in his underwear. And that’s what I think is so interesting about folk artists. Viewing their work offers glimpses into seemingly intense personal worlds that are often surprising, refreshing and even unsettling. So on that note, definitely check out Butch Anthony: Vita Post Mortum in the Corbin Gallery through January 25, 2015. If you stop by the museum library as well, you can even make your own skeletonized portrait à la Butch Anthony to go up on display!

Advertisements

A Look Back Into the Archives: The Inverted Q

By Mandy Tomasik, KSU library and information science practicum student

This post is brought to you by the letter Q.  Claes Oldenburg’s Inverted Q, to be exact.  While perhaps one of the most recognizable pieces in the museum, I don’t think that many people know the story of how the Inverted Q came to be and its inextricable ties to Akron.

Oldenburg was exploring the idea of colossal letters in various monumental situations.  While working out the possibilities of a giant Q situated in a landscape, the artist came to the conclusion that “an inverted position seemed necessary because a Q with its tail buried wouldn’t be a Q at all.” (qtd. in Oldenburg: The Inverted Q exhibit catalog, 1977, p 7, Akron Art Museum Archives)  In January of 1973, Oldenburg visited Akron in response to an invitation from Louis and Mary Myers to work on a sculpture fabricated in rubber that would be placed adjacent to the main library.  Looking at his first sculpted clay study for the piece, I think it’s easy to see why he deemed the Q an appropriate subject for Akron, as it is reminiscent of a tire in shape and it makes sense for a monumental letter to be living in the vicinity of a library.

March 1973, starting clay Q.  Oldenburg: The Inverted Q exhibit catalog, 1977, Akron Art Museum Archives

March 1973, Starting clay Q.  Oldenburg: The Inverted Q exhibit catalog, 1977, Akron Art Museum Archives

The artist explored many iterations of the Q made from different materials.  He sketched Q’s made from chopped wood and Q’s with sharp horns.  He crafted plaster versions cast from sewn canvas molds, 18 inch Q’s cast in the synthetic rubber material Hytrel, and a six foot prototype in rigid foam.  After much experimenting, a full size, six foot rubber Q proved infeasable and the first version of the final product was cast in concrete in Kingston, New York in September of 1976.  By the next summer, the final surface treatment had been completed.  It looked like this:

Inverted Q.  Oldenburg: The Inverted Q exhibit catalog, 1977, Akron Art Museum Archives

Inverted Q.  Oldenburg: The Inverted Q exhibit catalog, 1977, Akron Art Museum Archives

No really, it did!  The Inverted Q wasn’t always the Pepto Pink wonder that it is today.  It was originally an umber color until it underwent a three-month restoration in 1986, at which point it was refinished with a pink hue, which the artist believes gives it a more “rubbery feel”.  (Q-Tip.  Akron Beacon Journal article, 1986, Akron Art Museum Archives)

For even more scintillating information about the Inverted Q and to see some of the artist’s sketches and studies relating to this piece, search for “Claes Oldenburg” in the museum’s online collection here!

A Look Back Into the Archives: Art in Use

By Mandy Tomasik, KSU library & information science practicum student

It’s that time of year when the air turns chilly and thoughts turn to things comfy and cozy.  I have been in squirrel mode preparing my apartment for the cold weather ahead, since the thought of hibernating in a cluttered space makes me claustrophobic all over.  So, with housekeeping on my mind, I couldn’t help but notice while working in the archives the significant number of house and home-related exhibits clustered in the mid-1940’s to early 1950’s.  There’s probably plenty to be said about the interest in domestic affairs and industrial design in the aftermath of WWII, but I’ll leave that to the experts and instead share my favorite finds from:

Cover of exhibition catalog for Useful Objects for the Home, picturing (from left to right), Clothes, military, nail and hair brushes with “Shaped for Use” plastic handles, Wood bowl “turned to shapes of unusual thinness and proportions”,  “Chemex” coffee maker - “All glass one piece coffee maker with shaped wood ring grasp handle”, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives

Cover of exhibition catalog for Useful Objects for the Home, picturing (from left to right), Clothes, military, nail and hair brushes with “Shaped for Use” plastic handles, Wood bowl “turned to shapes of unusual thinness and proportions”, “Chemex” coffee maker – “All glass one piece coffee maker with shaped wood ring grasp handle”, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives

First of all, who could pass up this (now) classic Eames coffee table and chair?

“Evans-Made, Eames Designed” coffee table and chair from the Useful Objects for the Home exhibition catalog, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives

“Evans-Made, Eames Designed” coffee table and chair from the Useful Objects for the Home exhibition catalog, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives

After all, I’m going to need somewhere to park my new wire recorder!

Wire recorder from the Useful Objects for the Home exhibition catalog, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives

Wire recorder from the Useful Objects for the Home exhibition catalog, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives

Truly though, I want this.

There’s something illicitly fascinating about smoking-related objects from back in the heyday of cigarettes, like these ashtrays and “cigarette box”.  Very Mad Men.

Ashtrays and cigarette box from the Useful Objects for the Home exhibition catalog, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives

Ashtrays and cigarette box from the Useful Objects for the Home exhibition catalog, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives

However, those don’t hold a candle (or a match?) to this “Glamor Kit”!  The ladies surely went wild over this “Plastic combination cigarette case and compact”.

“Glamor Kit” from the Useful Objects for the Home exhibition catalog, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives

“Glamor Kit” from the Useful Objects for the Home exhibition catalog, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives

So glamorous!

The items in Useful Objects for the Home were selected based on their practical applications, while keeping design as a primary consideration.  The exhibition catalog (pictured at the top) lists the objects, their designers, producers and retailers.  “Prices range[d] broadly between 20¢ and $25,” (Useful Objects for the Home exhibition catalog, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives), and the majority of items were available in local Akron stores.

This exhibit, which took place November – December 1947, was part of a series called Art in Use, which included companion exhibitions titled Plan Your Home (January 1946), Made in Akron (September 1946) and Contemporary Furnishings (February 1947).  The Akron Art Institute, the precursor to the Akron Art Museum, offered a four year course that included instruction in field of industrial design.  At the Institute’s art school, “All art students, regardless of future plans for specialization in art, [were] required to participate in the study of ‘art in use’.” (Useful Objects for the Home exhibition catalog, 1947, Akron Art Museum Archives)

If we’re going to be all holed up in the coming winter, it might as well be with some well-designed and useful art!  Of course, when we must venture out, there’s always the option of cozying up with some art here at the museum too.

A Look Back Into the Archives: John Pearson

By Mandy Tomasik, KSU library & information science practicum student

Let’s talk about math.

Drawing for Expansion Rotation Series factorial 10.  #AAI 3,628,800.  All permutations of ten of ten symbols. Six Artists exhibit catalogue, 1972, Akron Art Museum Archives

Drawing for Expansion Rotation Series factorial 10. #AAI 3,628,800. All permutations of ten of ten symbols. Six Artists exhibit catalogue, 1972, Akron Art Museum Archives

 

No, wait, come back!

John Pearson has already done all the math, we just get to enjoy the results.  The new John Pearson: Intuitive Structures exhibition in the Isroff Gallery is the first solo show at the Akron Art Museum for this enduring figure in the Northeast Ohio arts community.  Educated at the Harrogate College of Art, Yorkshire, the Royal Academy Schools, London and Northern Illinois University, Pearson taught at Oberlin College from 1972 until his retirement this year.  In addition to his remarkable teaching career, he is the recipient of numerous regional and international art grants, fellowships and awards including the 1975 Cleveland Arts Prize.

Although this is his first one-man show here at the museum, Pearson has participated in two previous group exhibitions.  Six Artists: Breidel, Davidovitch, Eubel, Lucas, Pearson, Tacha was on view from December 17, 1972 through January 28, 1973, and featured local artists working with conceptual ideas.  His second appearance, in Five Perspectives: Henry Halem, Patrick Kelly, Edward Mayer, John Pearson, and Judith Saloman, occurred April 24 through June 5, 1983, and likewise highlighted area artists who all explored abstract modes.

Pearson arrived at the minimalist geometric abstractions he created in the mid 1960’s and 1970’s through the rigorous application of mathematical systems like the one pictured above.  While this sounds dry, Pearson’s explanation of these works is anything but:

When I use mathematical structures to make my own structures, I am using concepts and forms which have been developed to define specific aspects of the harmony perceived in nature.  I am taking that harmony, fracturing it, putting it back together in my own way, to deal with another kind of harmony — the harmony that is in my spirit, in my soul.  (Five Perspectives exhibit catalogue, 1983, p 20, Akron Art Museum Archives)

 

Installation of Expansion Rotation Series factorial 10.  #AAI 3,628,800.  All permutations of ten of ten symbols.  Six Artists exhibit catalogue, 1972, Akron Art Museum Archives

Installation of Expansion Rotation Series factorial 10. #AAI 3,628,800. All permutations of ten of ten symbols. Six Artists exhibit catalogue, 1972, Akron Art Museum Archives

 

Installation view of Expansion Rotation Series factorial 10.  #AAI 3,628,800.  All permutations of ten of ten symbols.  Six Artists exhibit catalogue, 1972, Akron Art Museum Archives

Installation view of Expansion Rotation Series factorial 10. #AAI 3,628,800. All permutations of ten of ten symbols. Six Artists exhibit catalogue, 1972, Akron Art Museum Archives

 

Indulge your inner mathematician and discover some examples of Pearson’s early systematic mode in the John Pearson: Intuitive Structures exhibit on view in the Isroff Gallery through February 8, 2015.  Also, don’t miss the artist’s Gallery Talk on October 9, starting at 6 pm.

A Look Back Into the Archives: View

By: Kent State University Library Science Practicum Student, Alexandra Lynch

 

The Akron Art Institute Bulletin started off as a monthly, publishing information related to current exhibitions and art happenings in the city of Akron. Volume 1 Number 1of the bulletin was made available October 1929 and included the articles, Art for Children, Great Art for Little Purses, Hand Wrought Silverware and Thirty Paintings by Cleveland Artists. The Akron Art Institute Bulletin has taken many names throughout the years. It took its current name the View, in July of 2007 in conjunction with the opening of the new building.

The summer 2014 edition of the View is now available in the Akron Art Museum Library, at the information desk and online: http://issuu.com/akronartmuseum/docs/magazine_2014_summer_final. You can read articles on exhibitions such as, Tony Feher Akron Installations, Along the Tracks: O. Winston Link, and Butch Anthony: Vita Post Mortum. You can also find out about the fun and exciting programs and collaborations going on at the museum this summer.

View AAI Bulletin001

A Look Back into the Archives: Downtown@Dusk

By: Alexandra Lynch, Kent State University Practicum Student

 

It’s hard to believe that the Akron Art Museum’s Downtown @ Dusk has just started its 30th season! This season kicked off on Thursday, June 19 with American, Pop artist Anne E. Dechant with Director Mark Masuoka as MC. This year’s Downtown @ Dusk has a diverse line up, ranging from Indie Folk Groove to Old School R&B, and will be taking place Thursdays throughout the summer.

Downtown @ Dusk Concert Lineup:

June 26         15 60 75 The Numbers Band, Abstract Blues

July 3             The Wanda Hunt Band, Old School R&B

July 10           The Speedbumps, Indie Folk Groove

July 17           Zach, Singer Songwriter

July 24           Horns and Things, Jazz

July 31           JD Eicher & The Goodnights, Pop & Light Rock

August 7        Blu Monsoon, Jazz

 

“We’re free Thursday nights if you are.” Just like in the 1990s, the museum has brought back its Free Thursday! Stop by the museum early to explore the galleries and grab a cold one before the entertainment begins!

  Downtown @ Dusk Advertisement, summer 1990


Downtown @ Dusk Advertisement, summer 1990

A Look Back into the Archives: The Akron Art Club

Akron Art Club, 1915

Akron Art Club, 1915

By: Alexandra Lynch, Kent State University Practicum Student

Founded in 1915, the Akron Art Club had a membership of 20 people and was organized by Herbert Atkins and Kenneth Nunemaker. The club met once a week and allocated one afternoon a month to outdoor sketching. In 1915 the Akron Art Club started holding exhibitions in various locations around the city, which soon lead way to the idea for an art center. On October 19, 1920, 24 Akron citizens met to explore the possibilities of bringing about an institution that would benefit both the spiritual growth and mental development of the Akron Community. A second meeting was held on November 17, 1920, in regards to the development of the art center. Headed by Edwin C. Shaw, longtime advocate for the arts, it was decided that the basement of the Akron Public Library would become the home of the Akron Art Institute. On February 1, 1922, the Akron Art Institute opened its doors the public.

Postcard of the Akron Public Library from 1909

Postcard of the Akron Public Library from 1909