Toledo Area Artists Exhibition on display at TMA through Jan. 4Written by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
A curated exhibit of regional artwork opened last night at Toledo Museum of Art (TMA).
The free exhibit features 73 works by 28 artists, selected from a review of 462 portfolios. Mediums represented in the show include sculptures, paintings, drawings, video works, installations and ceramics.
The 95th annual show was curated by TMA Mellon Fellow Halona Norton-Westbrook. Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight, a former Toledo Museum of Art fellow and a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism, was this year’s juror.
This exhibition will be on display at TMA’s Canaday Gallery through Jan. 4.
The 2014 TAA artists are: Andrew Borowiec of Akron; Dennis Wojtkiewicz of Bowling Green; Charles Mintz of Cleveland; Corrie Slawson of Cleveland Heights; Laura Alexander, Molly Jo Burke, Leah Frankel, Nathan Gorgen and Andrea Myers, all of Columbus; Jefferson Nelson of Liberty Center; Julie Friedman of Medina; Sandra Jane Heard of Perrysburg; Michael Arrigo, David Eichenberg, Timothy Gaewsky, Ben Grazzini, Natalie Lanese, Zak Lyons and Michael Sheets, all of Toledo; K.A. Letts and Katie St. Clair of Ann Arbor, Michigan; Jason Carter of Berkley, Michigan; Kenneth Thompson of Blissfield, Michigan; Heather Macali and Margi Weir of Detroit; Joshua Newth of Farmington Hills, Michigan; Chris LaPorte of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Chet Geiselman of Muncie, Indiana.
“We were very pleased by the wide range of work and the high caliber of the work being produced in this region,” Norton-Westbrook said in a news release.
“Given the nature of the show, there isn’t necessarily coherence among works, although I did notice certain things have been installed in ways where some works talk to other works in their vicinity,” Knight said during a media preview of the show Nov. 21. “I’m of the opinion that interesting works of art speak in two ways: They speak as loudly as possible in the voice of the artist but they also — really interesting artists tend to want to have their work speak to other art. I see art as a conversation among artists through the vehicle of the work they do and that gets reflected in the way this show is installed.”
One example Knight offered was “Swilind,” an acrylic and photo collage by Katie St. Clair of Ann Arbor, which is installed next to a series of photographs by Charles Mintz of Cleveland. St. Clair’s painting was awarded Best in Show, the show’s top prize.
“Visually they don’t look alike, but both of them are about this kind of melancholic poetry of collapse,” Knight said.
Knight also pointed to “City Band,” a massive pencil on paper drawing of a marching band by Chris La Porte of Grand Rapids, Michigan, which hangs across from a series of small oil painting portraits by David J. Eichenberg of Toledo — both examples of what Knight calls hyperrealism.
“Both of them have a photographic quality, but that photographic quality I think is deceptive because this image which does derive from a photograph is very different from the actual photograph,” Knight said. “One of the obvious differences between a photograph and a drawing is a photograph is largely instantaneous and this drawing (‘City Band’) probably took a year. So you see time in it, in a way you don’t see time in a photograph.
“And here’s a portrait (by Eichenberg) of a guy who works with his hands, clearly, and it’s a handwork portrait of a guy who works with his hands,” Knight said. “The historical style is kind of a traditional renaissance motif, of an aristocrat in profile, and aristocrats tended not to work with their hands. I also love the way his eyes are shaded with his glasses, which for him are to aid in perception, which is also what we are trying to do looking at the painting.”
TMA has gotten some negative pushback from the artistic community regarding the exhibit, particularly with how few artists were chosen for this year’s show.
TMA Director Brian Kennedy said the show — like the museum and the art world itself — have changed over the years. To pointed to other controversies in the show’s history, including 1978 when photographs were accepted for the first time and 1991 when video was accepted for the first time.
“My hope is in all of this, we’ll be just very thoughtful,” Kennedy said. “And being thoughtful is being open to critique and welcoming it and listening and then dialoguing and continuing to adapt, to come up with a model that works. And maybe that will be impossible. Maybe the nature of art today is it will continue to change each time.”
TMA is one of the only major art museums to offer a juried art show for regional artists each year.
“It’s pretty special this still exists,” Norton-Westbrook said. “And part of that is keeping it fresh each year.”
Upcoming events related to the exhibition include:
- 3 p.m. Nov. 22: Gallery talk featuring artists Laura Alexander, Michael Arrigo, Andrew Borowiec, Molly Jo Burke, Leah Frankel, Nathan Gorgen, Natalie Lanese and Chris LaPorte.
- 3 p.m. Nov. 23: Gallery talk featuring artists Sandra Jane Heard, Heather Macali, Charles Mintz, Jefferson Nelson, Joshua Newth and Michael Sheets.
- 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4: “Toledo Writes: Readings by Toledo area writers” hosted by Ryan Bunch, performing and literary arts coordinator at The Arts Commission.
- 3 p.m. Dec. 6: Gallery talk featuring artists David Eichenberg, Zak Lyons, Andrea Myers, Corrie Slawson, Kenneth Thompson and Katie St. Clair
- 3 p.m. Dec. 7: Gallery talk featuring artists Tim Gaewsky, Chet Geiselman, Ben Grazzini, K.A. Letts, Margi Weir and Dennis Wojtkiewicz.
For more information, visit toledomuseum.org.