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Summit Artspace celebrating 10 years with exhibit

5/3/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

“Imprints/In the Garden,” by Joan Colbert, is on view in Summit Artspace’s Why Art’s Alive in Akron exhibit.
Photo courtesy of Summit Artspace
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Works by eight artists who have been honored during the past decade by the Akron Area Arts Alliance (AAAA) with Outstanding Visual Artist or Lifetime Achievement in art awards are on display at Summit Artspace through June 2. The free exhibition also serves to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Summit Artspace.

The exhibition, Why Art’s Alive in Akron, features four West Akron residents: printmaker Joan Colbert, metal sculptor Don Drumm, digital printmaker PJ (Phyllis) Rogers and mixed media artist Mark Soppeland. The other four artists represented in the exhibit include pastel portraitist Judith Carducci, pastel landscape painter Barbara Gillette, electrostatic collage artist Miller Horns and abstract painter Craig Lucas.

A huge measure of the show’s success is the variety of the media these well-known and established artists employ for their art. They represent the range of this lively art in the Akron area.

While there is unity in the clear excellence of these artists, it is in the distinctiveness of their work from which the visual interest and appeal of the exhibition comes.

Some series and individual pieces simply stand out. Rogers’ “Sunflower Plus 1” (archival pigment inkjet monoprint) is a case in point. Rogers, this year’s Lifetime Achievement winner, does to digital images what master painters do with oils.

Soppeland’s “shrine series” are equally standouts. His lighted sculptures draw the viewer to them, making them pause and concentrate and participate in the creations he makes. One, “The Shrine of Time” has the earmarks of an ancient portable metal shrine. The old form, with the updated take on the artistic impulse, makes for fascinating viewing.

Colbert’s series on Irish tree lore also calls considerable attention. Colbert said she is working on a series of trees that figure in Celtic myth. New to this exhibit are four block print and mixed media works called “The Elder Tree Series.” Done in clearly demarcated black and white, they lend clarity of focus to the rootedness of the trees and the far-reaching qualities of their importance in one’s emotional and spiritual life.

Gillette was named this year’s “Outstanding Visual Artist.” The award is potentially given out every two years. Gillette is noted for her rendering of the rural landscape of her native Medina and of Ohio in general. Her works capture a strong sense of the mood of a specific place, shaping its emotional edges with her choice of color palette. Gillette has eight representative works that cover a significant portion of her collected artwork.

Summit Artspace, at 140 E. Market St., also will present free Saturday workshops taught by three exhibiting artists. For details, visit www.summitartspace.org.

Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. The exhibit will be open May 5 from noon to 9 p.m. for the Downtown Akron artwalk and May 6 from noon to 5 p.m. for the Sunday Sampler artwalk.

Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and an avid art enthusiast. To contact him, email r.durbin@sbcglobal.net.

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