Exhibit tells ‘Tale of Two Cities’Written by Lauren Bee | | email@example.com
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
In the work of artists Tina Gionis and Michelangelo Lovelace in Space 237′s exhibit “Between the Cracks: A Tale of Two Cities,” the cities of Cleveland and Taipei, Taiwan, are portrayed in contrast, like Paris and London from the opening of Dickens’ famous novel.
“There is nothing typical about this exhibit,” said Ellen Leonard, co-exhibition coordinator for “Between the Cracks” and resident artist. “We try to one up things with different, eclectic work.”
The exhibit features a collection of Lovelace’s paintings, acrylic on canvas, and digital prints of Gionis’ photo collage collection entitled “City.”
“Michelangelo’s work represents a Midwestern city falling apart, and Tina’s [work] shows an Eastern city that is growing, but the traditions are falling through the cracks,” said Myela Slattery, co-exhibition coordinator with Leonard and also a resident artist at Space 237.
Lovelace said a major influence on his artwork was his mentor, the late Rev. Albert Wagner, a well known outsider artist who was recently depicted in the award winning documentary “One Bad Cat.” He also cited painter Ernie Barnes as an influence, who Lovelace was introduced to by way of the television show “Good Times.”
One of the prevalent themes of Lovelace’s work is the subject of race. When speaking about his painting titled “America’s Game” at the opening, Lovelace said, “Baseball is America’s game, but racism has been played a long time.”
After studying in New York and her time spent in Taiwan, Gionis has returned to her hometown of Toledo.
“I’m really excited to be in my hometown,” she said. “I haven’t been here for 12 year. [With this collection] I want to show people what I’ve learned and what I’ve been doing.”
Gionis said the “City” collection is a work in progress, and in the next two years she hopes to be able to work on expanding it.
“We deal with a lot of issues today, in the city, the suburbs, such as schools, crime, the homeless,” Lovelace said in an interview before the opening. “Whatever the issues are in your community, I want [people viewing my work] to see a little bit deeper. I try to frame moments and frame issues– frame a conversation, a snapshot.”
Lovelace said he adopted his current painting style in 1994, having focused on painting jazz musicians before moving to the heavy issues of community and racism.
“I use primary colors to reflect the community and to keep it simple,” Lovelace said.
Neil Frankenhauser, a visitor at the gallery and painter, with a studio at the Collingwood Art Center, described Lovelace’s work as “urban”, “childlike” and a “narrative kind of painting.”
Gionis said her collection is essentially about her perception of Taiwan as a foreigner and a Westerner. While living in the country for seven years over a ten year period, she said she saw Taipei change rapidly and do its best to try to hold on to its traditional roots.
“Taipei, when I first went there 12 years, was a very traditional city,” she said in her presentation during the opening, “and when I left two years ago, it had changed so much.”
Lovelace said he had little formal training in art, as he only briefly attended the Cleveland Art Institute in 1984 before dropping out due to financial difficulties. He said that he learned a lot of about art from other Cleveland artists and his time in school.
“In school, we knew about Picasso, Michelangelo, Van Gogh,” he said. “Locally in Cleveland, I had a lot of artists in my peer group to learn from.”
Tina Gionis earned her two Bachelors degrees from UT, one in Psychology, the other in Creative Writing, as well as earning a minor in photography. She also has studied photography at the International Center of Photography in New York City.
The exhibition opened July 24, with a reception and discussion with the artists, and will run until Sept. 5. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 4 pm, and Space 237 Galleries is located at 237 N. Michigan, downtown.
Both Lovelace and Gionis’ work is for sale through the gallery. Gionis’ prints are $115 each, and Lovelace’s paintings range from $400 to around $2,500, said Leonard. Anyone interested in purchasing can contact Leonard or Slattery at the gallery, at (419) 255-5117.
Tags: Space 237