John Sokol’s artwork is unmistakably his, and Sokol’s tar and varnish pieces can be found at the Akron Art Museum, Canton Museum of Art and other notable locations. Sokol’s also the current artist in residence for the Akron Soul Train, a new arts startup that aims to provide artist studios, gallery space, and communal spaces for qualified artists, due to be fully completed by 2021.
Sokol’s tar and varnish style came about when he worked in the early ’80s as a construction worker and he observed the way tar reacted to the foundation of the house he was working on. “I thought, ‘I could use this as a painting medium,’ because I’ve always loved that monochrome rich brown,” he says. “I went home and added four parts of varnish and one part tar, because otherwise it would never dry. So the varnish is the stabilizing and extending medium, and I just started doing experiments.”
For a recent demo for the Akron Soul Train, Sokol used household items like laundry soap, ink and coffee, with the laundry soap creating negative space.
Much of his process is spontaneous and has arisen from frustration. “I don’t have any preconceived ideas of what I’m doing before I do it,” says Sokol.
He will debut his new work as the result of this residency at the Spectrum Gallery (at the Global Business Accelerator on South Main Street) Nov. 4, 5 and 6.