A new Summit Artspace exhibit is a lesson in mixed media and economy. With splashes of watercolor, efficient use of white space and the employment of such items as drinking straws, string, thumbtacks and sequins, the women artists forming the “Unmonumental Landscape” show have a collective leaning toward the abstract.
Their work is accessible to even the non-art enthusiast. And the media used is less expensive, ethereal and temporary, indicative of a current trend in the art world.
Debra DeGregorio, the show’s curator, uses a number of different materials that literally leap from the two-dimensional. Some of her work features ladders made of string that hang above and below the page. Pushpins and sequins woven into colorful patterns punctuate other pieces.
She likes to refer to her usage of elements like the little ladders and sequins as “mini installations.” She added: “I really enjoy playing with the viewer’s experience of the work.”
As a print maker, DeGregorio has developed an appreciation of Japanese woodblock prints, Chinese landscapes and the use of “negative space,” indicative of her heavy use of white space. “That’s an important element to me in making art,” she said. “And a lot of Asian art has this spaciousness.”
Though a number of artists bemoan the lack of participation from young adults in the art scene, DeGregorio said she sometimes hosts art shows at Highland Square’s Square Records or the Cleveland’s Asterisk Gallery, both of which draw a younger audience. The age of the audience, she added, “depends on the space and the community.”
DeGregorio’s work can be found at debradegregorio.com.
Artist Chrissy Coe Lapossy also employs a three-dimensional style, with layers of textured paint and other materials that give the viewer a sense of depth. With titles like, “A Memory is a Memory and a Dream is a Lie,” and “I Refuse to Go Back to Not Likin’ Who I Was,” Lapossy’s titles make as much of a statement as the art itself. She also displayed a video, “Waking up and getting up has never been easy,” a perpetual loop of a hand feeling its way under bed sheets.
Chelsea Blackerby’s sculptural installation, titled "Excellent Accommodations," uses plastic toy packaging that’s been boiled to warp into interesting shapes. Splashed with light green and soft pinks, her fanciful structures sit atop rusted wire stands. To an imaginative eye the transfigured trash looks like miniature gardens, mountain ranges and enchanted forests. Yet Blackerby’s interest is homelessness and the creative housing solutions of vagabonds, squatters and displaced populations
Sommer Tolan, another featured artist at the show, said her use of “ink blobs” in her paintings stems from her day job at a plant store, and she uses water a basis for a number of her creations.
The Summit Artspace show is a bit more traditional than Nolan is used to. After graduating from Kent State University, she said, “I got into this niche of DIY and house shows. It wasn’t really about selling work, but showing your peers.” These shows would often include musical performances (Tolan also is a singer and musician).
Tolan’s art and music may be found at www.barkandhiss.com.
DeGregorio, Lapossy and Tolan are BFA graduates of Kent State University. Chelsea Blackerby has a BFA from The University of Akron. The group was brought together by DeGregorio, who recently returned to Akron after earning an MFA in New York. She said the show illustrates a current trend she saw of creating art that appears ephemeral or temporary.
“It seems the pendulum of art has swung from expensive, precious materials presented literally on a pedestal to more accessible, less materially impressive media presented lightly,” DeGregorio said.
For more information, visit www.akronareaarts.org.