Fresh: 11th Annual Juried Art Exhibition Opens May 15 at Summit Artspace Gallery

The 11th Annual Fresh Art exhibition will open at Summit Artspace Gallery on May 15th with a meet-the-artists reception from 5 pm until 8 pm. The winners of over $1,000 in cash prizes will be announced. Artwork was juried by Liz Maugans, Executive Director  of Zygote Press and Founder of CAN Journal.

There are three free events in coordination with the Fresh Art exhibition.
Mandala Madness
Saturday, May 30, 1 pm
Reserve your seat to create your very own Mandala! This hands-on workshop will take an ancient art form and help you design endless possibilities for your fresh artwork. Registration required here.

Art Talk: Your Art in an Akron Gallery
Thursday, June 11, 7:30 pm
Are you an aspiring artist? Now is the time to learn more about the Akron Art Prize. Courtney Cable will give an overview of the submission process and a few tips on how to take advantage of this exciting opportunity. No registration required.

Visual Rhythm
Saturday, June 20, 1 pm
FRESH is all about creative ideas and with this new workshop attendees will use words to construct a fun collage!  Find your inner voice with this unique take on art and language. Kid-friendly. Registration required here.

Fresh Art 2015 is supported by

Summa Fdn Logo WebsiteSummit County Logo WebsiteOAC 50 Years Logo

Self & Others: The Photographic Portrait at Summit Artspace Gallery March 20-May 3

By Anderson Turner
Artists have made portraits and self-portraits, in one medium or another, for countless years. Studying the human form is an excellent way to understand all art-making. Working with a subject matter that has familiarity gives you an instant understanding that more abstract work might not.With the advent of photography, portraiture has gone through shifts as the technology has grown and changed. We find ourselves at a time where our phones can carry an excellent camera, and the traditional camera has become the digital SLR, capable of not only excellent image-making, but also video. It’s an exciting time when our technology is offering an unprecedented freedom and understanding of the visual world.

Some provocative takes on that visual world are on display in Self & Others: The Photographic Portrait, through May 3 at Summit Artspace. The show features the work of more than a dozen individual artists as well as a clever display of audience-participation “selfies” that will grow and change during the exhibit.

I’ve been mulling this show over for a while. Not because the work isn’t strong, but rather because it left me wanting more from each artist. Through a group exhibit like this, we only get a taste of what these talented folks are doing and luckily, most of it is excellent.

McKenzie Beynon has two works in the show. One is a self-portrait and the other is titled Hannelore, a portrait of a well-known local woman. Each portrait is beautiful in its own way. The images are not just sharp, they give the sense that the subject might step out of the portrait or that you could step in.

Perhaps what is strongest about images like these is that I came away with a feeling that I understand a small aspect of each subject’s personality. Like famous portraits by other photographers and painters, these images have a timeless quality and a personality all their own.

Michelle Marie Murphy has included two self-portraits, one of which is a viewer-operated kinetic sculpture titled, Smile Sucker, For You and Me. Both pieces relate to a body of work that she has been developing called Getting Happy, a public art laboratory. The work encourages audience participation.

These pieces give off a sense of invention; while they are interesting images regardless of how you are supposed to interact with them, that interaction and the way the work is displayed makes you feel like you just helped create something new.

Smile Sucker … is hand-cranked and that action makes the piece shake a little bit. The different parts knocking together as you crank also creates subtle noises and some ambiance. While a simple animation is what is produced, you come away with an intimate understanding of what makes the artist happy. It’s an ultimately relatable and unexpectedly sensual experience.

Ed Suba Jr. has been a photographer for the Akron Beacon Journal for more than 30 years. It’s easy to see why the newspaper would want to hold on to him. His images feel almost like you’re having a conversation with him. These images tell stories in their detail and in how the they are configured.

In His Name is a portrait of a man sitting in front of a large, mostly blank wall, the shoulders, neck and head all that are visible of him. About 3 feet above the subject is a picture of Jesus. This image, with only three details really, tells us the subject is likely a pastor of some kind, he has a sense of humor (he’s smiling) and that he has worked following a higher calling.

Another image by Suba is Smitty’s. Again, a story of a life is told in this image. In it we see an older couple in front of what is presumably their store. You can see the hard work they’ve put into it in their faces, and you can see the pride they have, too.

Being able to relate an entire story in an image might seem simple, but it isn’t. These photos tell a history of the area and hold your attention for a long time. I’ve noticed something different with each viewing and that is both intriguing and exciting.

Chelsea, by Don Parsisson, is a photograph of a recent intern at Summit Artspace. This image is featured on a banner mounted on the outside of the building. The subject, whose hair and dress appear nearly the same color, is hiding partly behind a wall. The formal qualities of this image are quite striking, with black and blue highlighting a fairly bland-looking wall. This work tells a story, too, but also has an otherworldly feel, almost as if the artist captured a mystical being just before it disappeared. It’s a little ghostlike, but that only heightens the mystery.

With the audience-driven work titled Selfies: the Egalitarian Portrait, the curators are attempting to get you to participate in a piece. If you’re interested, you can submit a selfie to selfies.exhibit@gmail.com. Images will be printed and displayed in the gallery alongside the curated exhibition.

It’s a fun idea. What struck me right away is how fearless so many of us are. If the general population were ever thought of as shy, this show would very much dispute that notion. The selfies people have sent in include fairly racy as well as just plain silly portraits.

This piece has the sense of being a “temporary monument” to the selfie, as when famous people die, or we feel the need to protest something as a society, and images are printed on paper and pinned up. It’s possible to envision piles and piles of these if enough are sent in. Also like so many temporary monuments, the selfies feel fleeting, and they are.

Photography can capture moments in time and collect information that most mediums are unable to do with such ease. The fact that so many of us own cameras and use our phones to take pictures only increases the sense of familiarity we all feel with photography as a medium.

It will be interesting to see what technology will bring to photographic portraiture. How far away are quality detailed holograms that all of us can use? Are scents or animation coming to our photographs? Nothing seems all that far-fetched anymore.

Regardless of what the future holds, the exhibit is well worth your visit, and gives you a sense of individuals in your community that you might not otherwise come across. I think you’ll find it rewarding.

Contact Anderson Turner at haturner3@gmail.com.