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Abstract art/mixed media subject of Summit Artspace exhibit

2/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

Michael Gable’s “White Hair, White Skin, Black Glasses” is on view in More Songs about Buildings and Food at Summit Artspace.
Photo courtesy of Summit Artspace
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Two concurrent exhibits at Summit Artspace, Michael Gable’s More Songs about Buildings and Food and Natalie Petrosky’s Treasure Prezzies explore contemporary notions of abstract art/mixed media through their paintings and drawings. The exhibits will be on display through Feb. 23.

The two artists fit well within the spectrum of what constitutes abstract art, where artists veer away from representational and pictorial forms in favor of a blurring of the visual references (the concrete subject of the work) and making it look less like itself as most people would expect it in art. Instead, they explore emotional reactions or intellectual turns on their topics.

Gable, who took the title of his display from the Talking Heads album of the same name, said of his work, “I have always referenced my surroundings, if only as a jumping off point.”

He added in notes prepared for the exhibit that now, instead of “destroying the existence of these references in the negotiation process of painting,” he has been able “to leave well enough alone” with regard to the subjects of his paintings.

His “Landscape with Photo of Landscape” probably depicts the point and shift most clearly for a viewer. The work at first can seem bland, a brown-laden ditty without much substance to it. But Gable packs a little artistic punch to reveal the process of art in the depiction of it. In the larger portions of the canvas, the viewer can see against the beige background a glimmer of something golden to the left side. As a way of explanation, Gable has integrally attached a photograph of the subject that started him along his artistic way — an expansive photo of a field across which you can notice McDonald’s golden arches visible on the horizon.

The works in Gable’s show, as do Petrosky’s, a range of materials the artists use for their visions and presentations. Gable’s ranges from small pieces done with marker on paper in minimalist style, through oil and graphite on paper (again small works), through larger oil and graphite works on canvas. The pieces tend to be muted in a French impressionist way, even his seemingly most colorful, “White Hair, White Skin, Black Glasses,” especially when the viewer sees them next to the bright, in-your-face large acrylic works done by Petrosky.

For her part, Petrosky, in her Treasure Prezzies, presents an array of acrylic paintings within which the artist combines found objects (like lead pipes, CD-Rom sleeves, pieces of a coffee cup and the like), along with her interest in incorporating thread as an essential element in the construction and interpretation of her art.

Petrosky also interestingly includes bare, raw canvas in places. In her pieces, it works, but is indeed unusual. As for the thread, Petrosky has noted that it “creates a cocoon around objects that hugs and contours its shape,” so that most “of the object is hidden, but its high points seek to poke out and reveal information.”

Part of the interest is to look closely at the thread-surrounded objects and figure out what they are. Her “Beach Scene” and “Nat Geo” illustrate how disarmingly she uses thread to draw on and shape her canvas.

Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St., is open Thursdays from noon to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

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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