Visual art

Painter Aaron Pickens’ Toy Stories opens at 20 North Gallery in Toledo

From 20 NORTH GALLERY On Friday, January 11, 20 North Gallery will open “Toy Stories,” an exhibition of captivating oil paintings by Toledo area artist Aaron Pickens. The exhibit will continue through March 30, 2019. A free public reception will be held Friday, Jan. 11, from 6 to 9 p.m. The “Toy Stories” exhibit features joyful and insouciant paintings with a whimsical sense of playfulness that belies the serious narratives they symbolize. Pickens’ paintings are created through dedicated observation of toy tableaux that the artist has built. With an emphasis on light and materiality, he carefully constructs these still life compositions to captivate the viewer. Pickens weaves an additional layer of depth into these bright, bold paintings with the toys and their depicted actions symbolizing and commenting on social issues relevant to today. A motif in Pickens’ artwork is to critique from a self-effacing position. Pickens states, “One of the unifying themes in my artwork has always been the desire to quietly disrupt some form of artistic convention in a highly refined manner, often using humor to do so.” Activism, art criticism, gun rights and environmental issues are examples of topics addressed in these vibrant works that entice and encourage the viewer to look longer and discover the underlying commentary. 20 North Gallery art director Condessa Croninger remarks, “We are proud to ring in the New Year and an exciting twenty-sixth exhibition season with celebrated and rising talent, Aaron Pickens. An artist with local roots, Pickens has an admirable dedication to the arts, fostering new talent through his role as an adjunct instructor at Adrian College among other institutions of higher education. As he expands his artistic career, we are delighted to be a venue hosting his popular and thought-provoking paintings that exhibit a strong duality. The way each viewer may bring a new perspective to each artwork is a true testament to the artist’s innate ability to create multi-layered paintings that discuss matters of social justice, yet are accessible to the child within all of us.” Aaron Pickens (Toledo, Ohio) received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in digital arts from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) in 2011 and a Master of Fine Arts in painting from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania) in 2015. Aaron currently resides in Grand Rapids, Ohio and, in addition to his fine art painting, works as a studio assistant for a digital installation artist. Also, as an adjunct instructor, Pickens has taught art courses at Owens Community College (Perrysburg, Ohio) and Adrian College (Michigan). With a background in both digital and traditional media, Pickens’ two main bodies of artwork comprise toy tableaux still life and alla prima plein air oil paintings, both of which have been accepted into juried exhibitions throughout the United States. Recently, Pickens was awarded best of show at both NOWOH (The Annual Northwest Ohio Community Art Exhibition) 10 and NOWOH 11 held at Bowling Green…

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Quilts memorialize migrants who die seeking refuge in the United States

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Migrants searching for a better life in the United States, a life free from violence and poverty, sometimes find a lonely death in the wastelands along the border. The Tucson Sector is the most deadly. And just as American economic and political policies have left many in Central America with little recourse but to flee, so American border policies have funneled them into the most deadly terrain. Since the late 1990s, an average of 150 migrants a year died in the area. Jody Ipsen, a quilter and writer, was backpacking in the area when she came upon what had been a camp for migrants. They’d left behind clothes and embroidered towels that are used to wrap tortillas. She found these traces of their passage through the area touching. That inspired the Migrant Quilt Project. Ipsen and curator and quilter Peggy Hazard visited Bowling Green State University this week as part of the annual Immigrant Ohio seminar. The quilts that have been produced by the project are on display through Dec. 7 on the fourth and fifth floors of Jerome Library on campus. Ipsen collects what the migrants throw away and then with the help of quilters, creates memorials to those who have died. Ipsen said she never  uses material from a site where someone has died out of respect and so as not to interfere with the medical examination of the site. As barriers have been put in place at the locations that are easier to cross, migrants have shifted into the harsher areas. This is part of US policy, she said. Officials say they hope the difficulty will deter migrants. That has not been the case. Thousands have died. “Death by deterrence,” Ipsen called it. The quilts serve as a reminder of their deaths, she said. Each quilt has an inscription for each person who has died, whether the person’s name or simply as unknown, or “desconocido,” for the many whose remains have not been identified. This is a reminder, Ipsen said, that these were people with families and friends. Ipsen told the story of three women whose stories she researched. Prudencia Martin Gomez headed north to find her boyfriend Ismael. He’d had to flee Guatemala because of lingering resentment over his father’s involvement in Army atrocities during the country’s 30-year-long civil war.  Prudencia was hoping to surprise him on his birthday. “She never made it,” Ipsen said. She showed an image of Prudencia’s body as it was found in the desert. While warning the audience of graphic nature, she said people also needed to see the reality  of the crisis. Ipsen choked up. She had talked to the families and came to know these women and what their loss meant to their survivors. “It’s really painful for me to talk about.” Yolanda Garcia Gonzalez left with her…


BGSU Arts Events through Nov. 28

At the galleries – “The Shodo Way of Writing: Calligraphy Scrolls from the BGSU Asian Studies Collection” exhibition continues through Nov. 18 in the Willard Wankelman Gallery at the Fine Arts Center. Presented by the BGSU Galleries, the exhibition includes 30 calligraphy scrolls by contemporary Japanese masters of these traditional arts.  Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Nov. 7 – Award-winning documentary filmmaker Dr. Matthew Donahue, a lecturer in popular culture, will present and screen “The Amsterdam T-Shirt Project,” highlighting the artists, vendors and creators of souvenir T-shirts in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the souvenir T-shirt capital of the world. The presentation and screening will begin at 1 p.m. in the Pallister Conference Room, Jerome Library. Nov. 7 – The Faculty Artist Series presents Caroline Chin on violin. She is an assistant professor and has been described by the Chicago Sun Times as “riveting and insightful, who lights up in passages of violin pyrotechnics.” She has performed throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia. The recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Nov. 8 – The Prout Reading Series presents readings by MFA students Erin Carlyle and Katy Cesarotti. Carlyle, a poet, and Cesarotti, a fiction writer, are MFA students in the creative writing program. The reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Nov. 8 – The BGSU Early Music Ensemble and Graduate String Quartet will present a recital at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Nov. 8 – The College of Musical Arts hosts the SPLICE Festival 2018, featuring music written for instruments and electronics. The first concert is at 8 p.m. in the Cla-zel Theatre, 127 N. Main St., Bowling Green. The festival runs through Nov. 10. For a complete listing of events, visit https://splicemusic.org/festival/ii/program/. Nov. 9 – The SPLICE Festival 2018 continues with a concert at 10:30 a.m. and a talk at 1:30 p.m., both in Bryan Recital Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center; a workshop at 3:30 p.m. in 0108 Moore Center, and a concert at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. Free Nov. 10 – The SPLICE Festival will present its final day of events in Moore Musical Arts Center starting with a concert at 10:30 a.m. and a talk at 1:30 p.m., both in Bryan Recital Hall; a workshop at 3:30 p.m. in Room 0108, and ending with a Music at the Forefront concert by the SPLICE Ensemble at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall, sponsored by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music. Free Nov. 11 – The Student Reed Quintet, with students Andrew Hosler, Ava Wirth, Kendra Sachs, Nicole Grimone and Jennifer Bouck, will give a recital at 4 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall at Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Nov….


Visiting master demonstrates how art & words come together in Japanese calligraphy

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Kyoko Fujii started studying calligraphy when she was 6 growing up in Hiroshima, Japan. It was a popular after school activity, she said. Most students after a few years move onto other hobbies. Fujii however continued to study. For her doing calligraphy was like eating or breathing. She took weekly lessons for many years with a master calligrapher. Despite her abiding interest, she didn’t reflect on her art much. It was only when she was 24 and her employer, a securities and banking firm, sent her abroad to the southern United States that she realized that what she did was something special, something beautiful, a way to reach out and connect with people. Now a master instructor herself, Fujii visited Bowling Green State University on Saturday to teach the art as part of the opening of an exhibit of calligraphy scrolls given to the Asian Studies Program by the Japanese counsel general in Detroit. “Shodo Way of Writing: Calligraphy Scrolls from the BGSU Asian Studies Collection” will be on display in the Willard Wankelman Gallery in the Fine Arts Center through Nov. 18.  Fujii, who now lives in Novi, Michigan, said it was an honor to demonstrate her art amidst so many fine examples of both traditional and contemporary calligraphy. She has mastered both kohitsu (pen writing) and mohitsu (brush writing) techniques,and demonstrated both. She started by writing out the lyrics of a popular children’s song about maple trees in fall. She had painted yellow and red maple leaves in the margins of her paper beforehand. Then as the song played on her iPod, the Japanese characters appeared. More than a simple letter, each character is a combination of images that together create the meaning of the word. And the character is executed with a flourish that’s a visual representation of the meaning. Fujii said her American husband always wants to know what the words and meanings are of her paintings, she said. This came through in the second part of Fujii’s presentation. Taking individual words, she painted them, and explained how they are constructed. The word “work” included symbols for human, heart, and power. When writing the word for wind or breeze, the way the character is drawn shows the kind of wind it is. She concluded her demonstration by switching to a gold pen to write out a Buddhist prayer. The entire prayer would take a day to copy, so she did the beginning lines. When asked, she chanted prayer in Japanese. Raymond Craig, dean of the College of Arts and Science, said this is an important part of what the college does. More than exposing students to other cultures, it gives them first-hand knowledge and hands-on experience in elements of that culture.


Female figure at center of Martha Gaustad’s art

“Liberated Figuratively,” art by Martha Gonter Gaustad, is now on exhibit through  Nov. 9 in the  Fisher/Wall Gallery of the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, 200 W. Main Cross St. Findlay. This show contains 15 works across the spectrum of 2D media including paintings, drawings and photography. At the heart of Gaustad’s art is the female figure, its beautiful forms, tones, and textures revealed by the light cast in both contrived and natural settings. The work evokes the viewer’s appreciation for the visual subtlety and complexity of the human form as well as a psychological response to the posture, expression and narrative composition of each piece. Since 2013, Martha has received varied recognitions and awards for her participation in international, national and regional juried gallery and museum shows. In addition to exhibition catalogs, her work has been published in surveys of contemporary painting. A native of Buffalo NY, “Marti” has lived and worked in the Toledo area for over 30 years. After retiring as a professor and administrator from Bowling Green State University, she returned there as an art student for five years; also traveling to study art conservation and painting techniques in Florence, Italy. She currently maintains a studio in downtown Toledo.


Toledo Museum of Art is in a family way

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Van Campen Family is having a reunion at the Toledo Museum of Art. Other 17th Century Dutch families have joined as well as families, biological and social, from across time and the globe. That includes the museum’s neighbors. Even I’m invited. The international exhibit “Frans Hals Portraits: A Family Reunion” is now at the Toledo Museum of Art.  The centerpiece is a reunification of three parts of the “Van Campen Family Portrait in a Landscape,” a painting from around 1623-25. Over the years this family portrait of the Van Campens and their 14 children has been cut apart. Two parts, the larger portrait and a smaller fragment “Children of the Van Campen Family with a Goat-Cart” first appeared on an auction list in 1810 as separate works. In 2011 the Toledo Museum acquired the main section, knowing there was another part to the painting owned by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels.   It has since been discovered that there was indeed a third part, and when set side by side there is likely at least one more fragment.  Lawrence Nichols, the senior curator at the Toledo Museum who oversaw the exhibit, holds out faint hope that remainder may be discovered. He speculates that the painting probably was damaged, maybe in a fire, and that was the reason it was disassembled. Other theories are posited, including it no longer fit in a smaller house. None will likely ever be proven. The exhibit also brings together the four other family portraits by Hals, who was known mostly as a portrait painter of individuals.  That and other related works form the core of the exhibit. That’s what will travel to Brussels and then Paris after the exhibit closes Jan. 6 in Toledo. The Toledo Museum, though, is using these works to reflect on the meaning of family as an ever changing concept.  So the viewer will find in the first of the exhibit’s four galleries  a Yoruba mask, “The Mother of Twins,” next to a Albrecht Durer’s 15th century print of Adam and Eve. The definition is stretched to include sub-cultures including portraits of “Ghoullies” taken by contemporary Dutch photographers. Even before arriving in that gallery, the visitor sees a mural made up of 75 photos of area families, some submitted to the museum and some taken by a museum photographer during the museum’s Block Party in early July. That’s why a photo of my wife, Linda Brown, and me greets me as I enter the exhibit. Museum Director Brian Kennedy said this montage symbolizes the museum’s efforts “to grow the relationship between the museum and its neighborhood and community.” Those snapshots show a diversity of ages, ethnicity, and family configurations. They’re also a tribute to a time when selfies and cell phone portraits are the norm. We…


Artist Beth Genson receives Arts Commission grant

Beth Genson, a northwest Ohio resident, is the recipient of an Accelerator Grant from The Arts Commission of Toledo.  The Accelerator Grant is a competitive program offering financial support with quick turn-around for artists to advance their creative projects, thereby advancing their careers.  Genson received the grant for encaustic painting equipment to enable her to provide a traveling workshop experience.  “Encaustic painting allows the participant to get creative without fear,” said Genson.“Whether you are an artist or just want to have fun, you can’t help but be inspired as you discover the process of applying hot wax and pigment along with other materials to create abstract or representational works of art.” Genson has two upcoming workshops scheduled with two 3-4 hours sessions per day, Intro to Encaustics, a beginner-level encaustic workshop will give participants a hands-on introduction to the encaustic process and Encaustic Studio will explore techniques and best practices for using wax including brushwork, fusing, layering, mark making and mixed media. A few spots remain in the workshop this Saturday, October 27, 2018 at Schooner Farms / Inspired by Nature, 14890 Otsego Pike, (Corner of Rt. 6 & Rt. 235), Weston, Ohio for half-day or full-day workshops exploring the medium of encaustic. Genson will host the same workshop on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at Art-a-Site! Gallery & Studio, 139 W Wooster St, Bowling Green, Ohio.  Full details and registration are available on her website at www.BethGenson.comunder ‘Events’.  All equipment, tools and supplies for the workshops are included in the cost. Beth Genson is a graduate of Bowling Green State University with degrees in Fine Art and Education.  She recently completed an Advanced Teaching Encaustics course at R&F Paints in New York.  In her own practice, Genson explores the nature of light on water and specializes in transforming your favorite vacation photo into a beautiful oil painting for your home.  Contact the artist at BethGensonArt@gmail.comor 419-308-7530.