By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Two Bowling Green State University faculty members, Charles Kanwischer and Lou Krueger, were among the artists to receive Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council.
For Kanwischer, who was honored for his graphite drawings on panel, said that it is remarkable that Ohio continues to honor individual artists. “It’s such a statement that individual artists are valued. It’s such a nice validation.”
Having a state give support to individual artists is becoming rare. Many arts councils only give grants to organizations. Some states have abolished their state arts councils, he said.
Kanwischer and Krueger were among 77 artists to receive funding from among the 465 who applied. The council distributed $375,000 in grants, almost all for $5,000.
“You have to give credit to the politicians, Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “It’s hard to complain about support for the arts.”
Kanwischer’s portfolio features his landscapes. The settings can be rural, suburban or urban.
He said he was interested in the cyclical change in the landscape. Some of the drawings now on display at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art in Cleveland, depict road construction. One drawing from 2010 “Route 24 Road Project – Support Columns” shows at once construction while also evoking images of ancient ruins.
Kanwischer said his work has not undergone any dramatic shifts. Instead he feels he is able to get deeper and deeper into “landscape that reveals stories.”
He’s appreciative that the arts council supports “long-term careers” not just the new and novel.
This is his seventh grant in the 19 years since he joined the BGSU faculty.
In return for the council’s support, he said, artists should express “a bit of public appreciation about how vital it is to the cultural life in Ohio.”
Kanwischer said he plans to invest the $5,000 award in new equipment, a printer and a new camera.
He has taken photographs as reference when he is drawing. “I’m becoming more interested in photography as a primary use and in showing the photos as art in and of themselves.”
Krueger, a professor emeritus, is a photographer who is expanding into cast glass. His arts council award, though, was for the continuation of his photo montages series “The Temple of Wonders.”
The series was inspired by a series of health issues Krueger suffered, requiring several operations. “Physically I have pieces and parts in me that didn’t exist before,” he said
Each of his prints is a montage of photographic images. One work has as 300 layers, he said.
Many of the images feature nude models painted with a glossy, gold coat. Some have openings to show their odd, mechanical inner workings. They seem to have stepped out of a bizarre circus where the acrobats and freak show exhibitors have mated.
“This exists in my imagination,” he said. So he makes the photographs and constructs his world from them. “This is the part of my process I love, building the thing.”
“The theme is still: What is the threshold of normalcy? At some level we’re all abnormal,” Krueger said. “I’m interested in how we remake our lives after loss.
“I think some of the work is moving toward more psychological things. This work is a little darker. It’s heavier in its psychology with maybe more pain depicted.”
Krueger concedes “my work is too edgy for most people. It’s not necessarily something people want to buy.”
Next week, though, he’ll travel to Portland, Oregon, for a major portfolio review by galleries and publications hoping to generate some interest in his work.
This summer he heads to the opposite coast for a residency at the Haystack Mountain School of Craft in Maine.
The grant will help with the expenses of both trips. “It’s all gone,” he said.
Krueger has been spending most of his time since he retired from teaching at the School of Art in 2015 working at the School of Art. He puts in 16-hour days on his project to integrate photography with cast glass.
He no longer has to worry about his students, he said. “Now they’re my buddies. Man, it’s unbelievable. I’m having more fun that I’ve ever had as an adult. All I do is make art.”