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Found object exhibit on view at Akron Art Museum

4/24/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

Work of artist Tony Feher on display

A large buoy hangs from the Akron Art Museum as part of the Tony Feher exhibit
Shown are some pieces on display in the Tony Feher exhibit.
Photos courtesy of the Akron Art Museum
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The latest exhibition at the Akron Art Museum generates a lot more than passing interest.

Simply titled Tony Feher after the single artist featured in the display, the show encompasses 25 years of Feher’s career from 1987 to 2012 at making art out of found objects — that is, mundane materials that one usually does not associate as art. The exhibit, organized by the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, will be on view until Aug. 17.

Museum-goers’ fancy will be captured before they even get into the museum where the main display is mounted, for Feher created three large red globes — buoys — to be hung from three sides of the museum. They serve as kind of a beacon, lifeline or call to viewers to see what is within.

In a lecture during the opening reception for this exhibit, Feher and museum staff acknowledged that people were already making remarks about the very apparent globes. One person, it is said, likened them to red wrecking balls, while another saw brilliant tears of joy in them. Feher himself saw the tears connection.

Inside, however, visitors can see 50-plus pieces that Feher fashioned with incredible creativity and imagination into fascinating art objects. Perhaps the most eye-catching is his “Blossom,” an object created from extruded polystyrene into a 4-by-8-foot (and 2 feet deep) pink folded fan. Clever stuff.

Nearby is an intriguing monument of similar large proportions called “Enjoy.” The work is a stack of 350 red plastic soda cases made into a kind of monolith, with each case inscribed “TF 2001” for the year the object was made and the artist’s initials.

Feher seems to find beauty and importance in things that most people just do not. Rather than consign them to a recycle facility or local dump, Feher sees color, texture and artistic treasure in what others might call trash. It works, for he creates some stunningly rich color sculptures from unlikely sources.

His work from 2008 called “Birth Stone” is a collection of glass bottles, all seemingly dark green or deep reddish color arranged in a 2-1/2-foot circle. Each bottle is topped with a bright luminous red marble. The color saturation, the shadow effect of the bottles on the museum floor and the tilting look of the bottom heavy bottles are striking in their richness.

Feher reportedly began his artistic career as a painter before changing to his present interest. Rather than paint on a canvas, this imaginative art maker takes snippets of blue painter’s tape in an “Untitled” work from 2012 and arranges them in a series of uneven circles to create a swirling fingerprint-looking image on the white museum wall.

Part of the appeal of the exhibit is the range of Feher’s imagination and the materials he uses. Each work seems to be a different concept and technique — from multi-colored marbles arranged on a carpet remnant, through what he calls “Round Things With a Hole in the Middle Most of the Time” arranged in a circle on the floor around a glass jar, to a sand mixture fashioned into a block with a glass bottle in the middle filled with radiator coolant as a kind of mundane vessel.

If nothing else, viewers will see these everyday objects in an entirely different way, and that seems to be one of the aims, and the value, of this important artist.

According to museum officials, Feher also is creating new site-determined art works for the Akron Art Museum.

The Akron Art Museum, located at 1 S. High St., is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. General admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens (65 and older) and free for children (17 and younger) and members. Gallery admission is free every Thursday.

For more information, call 330-376-9185 or visit www.akronartmuseum.org.


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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