‘Picturing Thailand,’ ‘Hair’ coming to LeSo GalleryWritten by Jay Hathaway | | email@example.com
An East Toledo art gallery will be wrapping up winter and heading into spring with two unique exhibits.
Next up at LeSo Gallery, 1527 Starr Ave., will be “Picturing Thailand,” an exhibition of photographs by Elliot Charney that will open Feb. 7.
Charney received the 2013 Toledo Museum of Art Palmer Scholarship and used his winnings to spend two months exploring Thailand, capturing images of the people, land and culture.
The idea came when a friend from Texas called this summer and asked if Charney wanted to go to Thailand.
“Of course, I wanted to, but I didn’t really have the money,” Charney said.
Immediately after the conversation, Charney read an Arts Commission newsletter, and saw that TMA’s Palmer Scholarship deadline was the next day. After pondering, he decided to act on it.
“I figured I would tell them I wanted to go to Thailand, so I spent like eight hours, got the whole thing written and then I just wrote the whole thing off, because it was a last-minute thing, and I didn’t think I did a good job.”
However, Charney said that about two months later he received a letter stating that he had been awarded the scholarship. He was now adequately funded for his journey.
Ironically, his friend that originally asked him to go to Thailand did not accompany him, so Charney set out alone last September.
Charney said that, at first, he experienced a small amount of culture shock, but he quickly adjusted to his new surroundings.
“As soon as that kind of went away, I didn’t find it all that different from traveling around the United States,” he said.
For the first few weeks, Charney stayed in bamboo huts and learned about organic farming, working the rice fields and farms.
After wrestling with a few different themes, Charney decided to stick with the concept of “Zen and the art of photography,” the topic he originally pitched on his scholarship application.
“It was kind of my fancy way of saying, ‘I’m just going to wander around and photograph everything I see.’ I was following what it seemed like I should be following at the moment.”
Charney said that, while he did happen upon some unique scenes and events, most of what he captured on film was intentionally commonplace.
“I’m not showing anything totally outrageous, like a dragon festival,” he said.
Charney said the exhibit is not just about Thailand.
“It just so happens that [Thailand] is where these photos were taken. There’s nothing exotically Thai, as some people might expect. It’s really just about the world and its landscapes and people.”
“Picturing Thailand” kicked off with an opening reception on Feb. 7, and will continue to run during regular gallery hours on Saturdays and Sundays noon to 4 p.m.
A closing reception and artist talk will be held 7-9 p.m. Feb. 21.
LeSo also recently wrapped up a call for artists for an upcoming exhibit based on the concept of “Hair.”
LeSo’s Director of Marketing & Design Bradley Scherzer explained the inspiration for the open invitation.
“A long time ago, Amber [LeFever, LeSo director/owner] had mentioned ‘mourning jewelry,’ which is a style of jewelry made with the deceased’s hair. That was something that stuck in my head, and then I started seeing some other people’s work online. Once I kind of got into that, I thought it would be a really interesting prompt for the coming year.”
The idea to call out to area artists was an attempt to motivate them to go beyond their usual frames of style and find something original.
“I’m a teacher, and I thought of this as kind of an assignment that’s going to yield a pretty wide spread of results,” he said.
Scherzer expected at least 30 submissions, and the gallery will be sorting through them this week to decide which ones will be accepted for the exhibit.
Scherzer said that this is just one of many planned future exhibits at LeSo that will feature a call for art submissions.
“Hair” will open at LeSo 7-9 p.m. March 7. A closing reception and select artist talks will be held on 7-9 p.m. March 21.