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Women’s Art League of Akron celebrates 80th anniversary with exhibit

5/9/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

Barbara Zimmerman’s “Garden of Blue” won first place in the Women’s Art League of Akron’s Brushstrokes: Here & Now, which is on view at Summit Artspace through June 1.
Photo courtesy of Summit Artspace
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The ongoing tradition of the Women’s Art League of Akron makes itself known in its current exhibit, Brushstrokes: Here & Now, which is on view at Summit Artspace through June 1.

The exhibit of work by members is the group’s 80th anniversary show, according to Summit Artspace officials. The juried exhibit features works by current club members, which were selected by educator and artist Susan Mencini and John Klassen, director of the Brecksville Center for the Arts.

Exhibit organizers pay tribute to the Art League by having a sizable display in the side gallery of newspaper headlines and articles about the Art League and its ventures, including the annual Rubber Ball. That is a nice touch for honoring this group and its artistic output over the years.

Other accolades appear through the sheer number of awards for the exhibit. Beyond the usual first- through third-place winners, this time there was a Best of Show award given to April Cameron for her acrylic piece “Journey’s End,” a crisply rendered landscape in deep blues.

Award winners are somewhat in a group together on the walls of the gallery, which seems a bit unusual but is an easy way to see the judges’ favorites. One L-shaped area had the five honorable mentions, while Best of Show and first place (Barbara Zimmerman’s acrylic “Garden of Blue”) were together, as well as second-place winner Nicki Lanzi’s “St. Augustine’s Charm” (an oil cityscape) and third-place winner Shirley Ende-Saxe’s “Secret by Decree” (a stitched collage). Ende-Saxe is a regular honoree and featured artist in local shows.

Honorable mentions went to: Sandra Heller, Elinore Korow, Phyllis Lawicki, Linda Lyons and Marcia Mazak.

As it turns out, many of the works in the exhibit are nicely done but aren’t particularly eye-catching or impressive as cutting-edge sorts of works or innovative pieces through choices of medium or technique.

However, a few certainly make it worth the time and effort to catch this show.

As a perfect example, viewers should catch Karin Warner’s photograph “Urban Palms,” a work the artist said was taken during a trip to California. The work has the benefit of a distinct upward perspective on the palms, making them seem as towering as they probably are but merging into a luxuriant sky to create a sense of grandeur and might.

A second work focusing on trees and a natural background is Betty Wolfe’s “Sentinels,” an acrylic study that is a dense wash of solitary-looking somber trees standing watch over the troubled world around them.

Barbara Johns’ watercolor “Early Morning” is a lovely piece of a stark wintry landscape with a house in the background. The interest is in the choice of pinks and yellows to catch an early morning light that softens the scene.

Donna Cetnarowski’s mixed media rendering “Medusa” depicts the frenzy of the Greek goddess’s lure and danger. The image is abstract, as though suspended in liquid like an octopus, yet menacing in its beauty.

Another abstract work, Nancy Wilson’s “Chemistry of Life,” is an eye-catching work of integrated color choices (red, through deep and light blues, greens, rust and coral) against a golden background.

Along with the exhibit, there is a series of artist demonstrations that are free and open to the public May 11 and 18, and June 1 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St. For more details and to register, call 330-376-8480 or visit www.akronareaarts.org.

The gallery is open Thursdays from noon to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. Parking is adjacent to the building. 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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