River House Arts

2016 BGSU grad Brach Tiller finds his artistic vision through hard work & Instagram

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Brach Tiller graduated from Bowling Green State University just over a year ago, he faced an existential question. “What the hell am I going to do now? What am I going to paint?” he wondered. The 26-year-old has spent his first year after receiving his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts degree discovering the answer. What he found is now on display in River House Arts’ Gallery 6, on the sixth floor of the Secor Building at 425 Jefferson on downtown Toledo. The work he created while studying for his BFA at BGSU was photorealistic with dark and disturbing overtones. It showed the ability to render realistic images in detail. “I decided it wasn’t providing me what I needed,” Tiller said. So he found himself a studio and began to paint. “I was getting a lot of bad paintings out of the way,” he said. In the past year he figures he’s discarded 30 paintings. While in each one he’d find something to reject, he’d also find some element worth exploring further. That would get worked into the next work. While engaged in this process, “I was exploring Instagram to see what people were doing in the contemporary art world.” BGSU as an art school is “a hidden gem,” he said. Still it is isolated from any center of art. So Tiller used Instagram to reach out, as well as to document his own work. “I had to use Instagram as that tool to find art in the world because you want to be part of the conversation of what’s going on out there.” Instagram…


K.S. Letts’ art explores ancient myth in the future tense

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ancient myths tell us what the future holds for humanity. That’s the underlining theme of artist K.A. Letts’ new show, Trans Human, at the River House Arts in the Secor Building in downtown Toledo. The exhibit opens with a reception tonight (Thursday, April 20) at 6 p.m. at the gallery at 425 Jefferson Ave. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 4-10 p.m., and by appointment by calling 419-441-4025). “I’m very interested in where we’re at as a species,” Letts said in a recent interview. “We’re at a point of being very close to the point of controlling our own evolution, and looking forward you wonder how the changes we make in ourselves will affect us as human beings.” Bio-engineering, including gene therapy and neuro-prosthetics, and robotics which threaten to make much human work obsolete, pose existential questions about where humanity is headed. One of the guides, Letts believes, “is through the stories we tell.” So the artist takes stories either from Ovid’s Metamorphosis or the Bible and uses “them to discuss what human beings are and what we’re going to be.” These are not illustrations, Letts said, “as much as making an image around the story.” She translates her vision of those stories in to bold, graphic designs. Her work draws a number of influences. The Chicago imagist school played a key influence as did Matisse and aboriginal art. She uses a limited palette. Black and white dominate. She uses silver and gold in a way that’s reminiscent of religious icons. Other tones are muted, and used sparingly. In “Original Sin” there’s a…


Letts’ art speculates on future of humanity

From RIVER HOUSE ARTS Ann Arbor based artist KA Letts will present new or in the exhibit TransHuman, opening Thursday, April 20, with a reception from 6-9 p.m. in River House Arts, in the Secor Building, 425 Jefferson, Toledo. The exhibit continues through May 14. In this work, Letts speculates on the promising and terrifying future of our species. Using paper and paint, Letts re-works and reclaims myths of origin drawn from ancient cultures and cultural memory. Letts has shown her work regionally and nationally and in 2015 won the Toledo Federation of Art Societies Purchase Award while participating in the Toledo Area Artist Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art. She is a graduate of Barnard College (BA History) and Yale Drama School (MFA Set and Costume Design). In addition to her exhibition at River House Arts, she is preparing for a solo show at Firecat Projects in Chicago (Winter 2017). Gallery hours are 4-9 p.m, Tuesday through Friday. Appointments available daily by calling 419-441-4025. Formore information visit: riverhousearts.com.


River House Arts opening two exhibits in two weeks

Submitted by RIVER HOUSE ARTS River House Arts and Contemporary Art Toledo will present “Heterogeneous: States of American,”opening Tonight (Feb. 16) with a reception from 6-9 p.m. at the gallery in the first floor of the Secor Building, 425 Jefferson Ave., Toledo. In this provocative and timely new exhibition of paintings and mixed media, three Toledo artists, Josh Byers, David Cuatla Cuatl, and Faith Goodman express the fractures and symmetry of millennial life. The show remains on exhibit through March 4. Riverhouse Arts is also opening the Sien Collective’s “Sweeping Close… and Now”  Friday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. in the Owens Community College’s Walter E Terhune Gallery. The Sien Collective is Meagan Shein of Ann Arbor and Siobhan Arnold of San Diego. The two artists use historic photographic processes of Cyanotype and the paper negative, as well as drawing, encaustic and hand sewing to investigate the properties of trees and our place in the contemporary world. It continues through March 22. Also continuing in the Gallery 6 of River House Arts are the paintings of Croatian artist Nevenka Arbanas. Created in the early 1990s during the Bosnian War and its aftermath, the works were sourced from a local collector and are priced to sell. The gallery on the sixth floor of the building. River House Arts is a full service gallery offering exhibitions of modern and contemporary artists. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, noon to 8 p.m. and by appointment.


Contemporary Art Toledo on a mission to get people thinking about art

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The glass on display at River House Arts gives a clear view of the mission of the newly launched Contemporary Art Toledo. The art on exhibit in HUSH.ex challenges what viewers may expect from an art medium so closely tied to Toledo. The works are more than beautiful objects, but provocations. Jessica Jane Julius intentionally “mars” some of her work, questioning the ideal of perfection. She also created long shimmering panels. Are these glass? Yes, glass-infused paint, normally used to paint stripes on runways. Amber Cowan’s milk glass pieces at first glance seem like they were retrieved from an old aunt’s estate. But they subvert that thought, teasing out the line between art and kitsch. And the work by Megan Biddle and Sharyn O’Mara tests the boundaries between drawing and glass. The work, which is on view through Nov.4, in the show “pushes the medium and pushes the history of glass,” said Brian Carpenter, one of the two founders of Contemporary Art Toledo. The show is the second sponsored by the nascent arts organization. The organization’s roots go back to when Carpenter and Paula Baldoni, the owner of River House Arts, were introduced about two years ago. They found they had similar thoughts about the regional arts scene. “We immediately started talking about artists,” Carpenter said. Both were interested in exposing local viewers to a different kind of work. Carpenter teaches and is gallery curator at the University of Toledo. Baldoni and her husband, William Jordan, founded River House Arts 12 years ago in Perrysburg. Early this year they brought their operation, which includes…


Philly glass artists display work at River House Arts

River House Arts and Contemporary Art Toledo will present HUSH.ex, an exhibition of works in glass and mixed media by Megan Biddle, Amber Cowan, Jessica Jane Julius, and Sharyn O’Mara. The show opens with a public artists’ reception on Thursday, Sept. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. and will be on view through Oct. 22, running concurrently with Hot Glass/Cool Music, a month-long community celebration of glass and music in Toledo. HUSH.ex is the second iteration of a body of work that debuted last spring at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Working over the course of a year, the artists, who are also colleagues on the glass faculty at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, created visually and conceptually diverse works that include site-specific installations as well as individual sculptures and drawings. At the outset, the artists recognized commonalities in their practice: reflection (literal and figurative) and distillation. They began with a collective desire to see past the overstimulus of the digital age and to focus on the analog, narrow the vocabulary from color to gray scale, and capture the power of memory and reflection in interpretation of experience. And yet, there is nothing simplistic either in the ambition or scope of any of the artists’ work. This ambition and scope has not gone unnoticed. In the September 2016 edition of Glass Quarterly, Alexander Rosenberg writes. “It is uncommon to find the flashy and performative medium of glass used to express silence or solitude, but the four artists here offer a convincing alternative to the noise and hyper-connectivity of digital culture.” Megan Biddle is an interdisciplinary artist whose work orbits between sculpture,…


Arresting images portray intersection of policing & art

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ben Schonberger’s art installation, “Beautiful Pig,” at River House Arts in Toledo couldn’t come at a more fraught moment coming as it does in a time when our reactions are color coded. The heart-felt cry of Black Lives Matter giving rise to the reaction of Blue Lives Matter. Schonberger collaborated with retired Detroit detective Marty Gaynor to create a portrait of the cop and his community and the relationship between the cop and the artist. “I think it’s an incredibly fragile moment,” Schonberger said. “I don’t think it’s ever been more relevant.” He sees the exhibit as an opening to an “alternate” conversation about policing and community, one “that doesn’t begin with a charged reaction.” In every incident, “everybody has an alternative story,” he said. This isn’t work, he said, that someone will see in the gallery and buy to hang in their home. “The best part about this work isn’t the art, it’s to be able to have an alternative conversation about people and process. If you can have a conversation about humans and feeling, identity, empathy, survival and history, if you can understand someone’s brain for a minute, that’s when contemporary art is so powerful.” Fittingly this is the first collaboration between the gallery’s owner Paula Baldoni and the nascent group Contemporary Art Toledo. Brain Carpenter, the founder, said the group is interested in exactly these kind of shows that are more about generating debate than displaying objects. The River House walls are lined with the pictures of suspects, and cryptic symbols, documentation of Gaynor’s 31 years on the streets of Detroit….


Life of a cop turned into art in “Beautiful Pig”

From RIVER HOUSE ARTS The life of a Detroit police officer is the focus of “Ben Schonberger: Beautiful Pig,” an exhibit that opens with a reception Friday, Aug. 12, from 8 to 10 p.m. at the River House Arts and Contemporary Art Toledo, 425 Jefferson, Toledo. The reception immediately follows the artist’s 7 p.m. talk in the GlasSalon of the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion. Centered on a trove of photographs and ephemera collected by a former Detroit police officer during the latter part of the 20th Century, purposefully assembled and augmented by the artist, Beautiful Pig offers a provocative, timely, and unflinching look at cultural identity, self-perception, and the realities of racial disparity in law enforcement. The project began when Schonberger, while working in Detroit, acquired a box of photographs from Marty Gaynor, a retired police officer. Gaynor had documented the entirety of his career through thousands of images, including countless Polaroids of individuals he had arrested. Intrigued by the scope of the collection and the man responsible for amassing it, Schonberger embarked on a years-long collaborative process with Gaynor. The result is in an intensely personal yet culturally and historically revealing archive. Beautiful Pig appeared in 2013 as a self-published book to overwhelming critical acclaim. It was shortlisted by both the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Award in 2013 and the Anamorphosis Prize in 2015. Today the book can be found in the New York Public Library, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MoMA, the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, The Arts Library at Yale University, and nearly a dozen other cultural institutions. While portions of the collection have appeared in group…


The cosmos is ready for its close up in Eric Zeigler’s exhibit

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The universe is on view in downtown Toledo. Or at least photographer Eric Zeigler’s vision of the universe, which includes: Galaxies of 100,000 stars, compressed into one small frame the size of a computer monitor. One of Pluto’s moons, the smear of light as good as anyone will likely ever see it. The rust on a meteorite in an image blown up 36-times its natural size. A computer image of neutrinos – subatomic particles so small 65 billion of them fit into a square centimeter – interacting. The exhibit “Under Lying” is now on view at River House Arts, 425 Jefferson St. The exhibit is open through July 30. For hours call 419-441-4025. The show will be part of Art Loop on July 21. The work, Zeigler explained, comes from his interest in astronomy that was sparked by a class he took at Bowling Green State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Photography in 2008. He’d been taking photos since his early teens, inspired by his grandfather. Above the television in his grandparents’ home was a landscape photo his grandfather had taken. And scattered around the house were copies of Popular Photography magazine. His grandfather, Zeigler said, was interested in optics, and during World War II maintained sights on bombers that flew missions over Germany. Young Eric was fascinated by the data included in Popular Photography. What did the shutter speeds and aperture opening numbers mean? “I was totally addicted to figuring all this stuff out,” he said. He set his family’s new digital camera on manual. That helped him…


River House Arts takes up residence in historic Secor building

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News River House Arts, an art gallery that has enlivened the area art scene for six years, has now taken up residence on the left bank … of the Maumee River in the Glass City. Paula Baldoni who owns the business with her husband, William Jordan, said that move from the house on the river in Perrysburg to the sprawling new space in the Secor Building at 425 Jefferson Ave. has taken more time than anticipated. But even as Jordan works on the floors in the 9th floor office space, the gallery is ready to open its newest show, “Immigrants, Outcasts, and Other Heroes,” oil paintings and drawings by Cuban artist Augusto Bordelois. The show of more than two dozen works opens with a reception Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. The show continues through June 4. For details visit: http://www.river-house-arts.com/#!immigrants-outcasts-and-other-heroes/cbtc The exhibit is well in keeping with what River House Art has been about all along. Its exhibits have featured forgotten American masters such as Clay Walker featured in the gallery’s first show in November, 2009; international artists such as Mexican painter Veronica Leiton, creator of surreal abstract cityscapes; important contemporary Americans such as Swinomish and Tulalip photographer Matika Wilbur, who is using fine art photography to produce powerful and positive images of contemporary indigenous people; and local artists both young, jeweler Amy Beeler, and more established, photographer and digital artist Lou Krueger. Bordelois, Baldoni said, has been living in Cleveland since 1999, but he regularly returns to Cuba. His paintings are bold, with robust, heavyset figures. They lounge in the tropical heat, or…