The new exhibit at the Akron Art Museum, “Intersections: Artists Master Line and Space,” is a lot like the giant, red, vinyl-coated polyester fabric sculpture by Jimmy Kuehnle that inflates and deflates in the lobby. Although quite static, it breathes and moves through your eyes. It is strangely familiar and comforting, and leaves you feeling happy, light-hearted, and smiling at its enormous whimsicality.
Each artist is given a room to fill. There are table-sized discs, glass tear drops and chained bowling balls by Judy Pfaff hang from the walls and ceiling of one room. You can’t walk past these pieces of art. You are compelled to look, to compare, and to imagine things that aren’t there. The objects here are so complex it takes a while to figure out what it is you are looking at. You almost forget that there are other rooms to explore.
Your sense of space is invaded, then set free as you transition to the next room. Large wooden sculptures and long pieces of hand-made paper in muted wood tones soothe your eyes. Your sense of familiarity returns, if a bit altered. Pfaff’s surreal world makes you feel too big, Ursula Von Rydingsvard’s room leaves you feeling small.
As you make your way around a corner you find yourself suddenly alight. Your eyes are drawn up and your sense of touch is relegated to your eyes. The urge to float is strongest while looking up at Anne Lindberg’s lines. Your eyes touch each line at the same time as it tries to make this specter of greens and blues look as solid as it should be. You see and don’t see what is there and that is OK.
The long, thin lines are the perfect transition into the next room where things are all smooth, soft and surreal. Everything that John Newman has put out on the tables for you looks and feels familiar. There is a comfort in this room. You feel like you are walking through someone’s melting dream. Your fingers itch to touch the smoothness of the metal, the roughness of the rocks, the fuzziness of the peach. As you inspect things closer you realize you don’t really want to touch them. There is something eerie about some of his pieces; you want to keep your hands firmly tucked into your pockets.
Nathalie Miebach brings you out of that state with her tinker-toy like inventions. Her slight obsession with weather is evident. Your eyes are busy following the ebb and flow of hurricanes like you would ride a roller coaster; up and down and around you go across weather charts, sheet music and adverse weather conditions. You exit her room feeling both sad to leave it and happy to let it go.
You have to pass through Newman’s room to get to Fox’s pieces. Try not to touch the fuzzy things as you walk through. You will be tempted.
The same can be said of all the meticulously painted, cut, rolled, pasted and corrugated things Mark Fox has put together for us. His compulsion to draw turns into our desire to see everything that he has made. His self-described “failed paintings and drawings” are re-purposed as sculptures that at first seem simple. His paint-drop circles seem so easy to recreate. Perhaps we could have made such things. A second, longer glance, reveals exactly how complicated and painstakingly difficult these creations would be to execute by most of us.
Leaving the exhibit feels like exiting the fun-ride at the park. You immediately want to run to the end of the line and go another turn. I myself can hardly wait for Friday’s opening party to tour all six rooms again, and again. It is that good.
The Public Opening for Intersections will be Friday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
“Intersections: Artists Master Lines and Space” is organized by the Akron Art Museum. It is supported in part by awards from the Lehner Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, and the Ohio Arts Council, with special thanks to the Hilton Garden Inn- Akron.
The Akron Art Museum is located at One South High Street, on the corner with West Market St.
Gallery Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (paid admission) and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (free admission to the general public).
For info, visit www.akronartmuseum.org.