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Akron Society of Artists exhibiting work by Nevin family

5/1/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

Karl Nevin’s “The Liberty Bell” is on view in The Nevin Family: Three Generations of Art at the Akron Society of Artists gallery at Summit Artspace.
Photo courtesy of Bradley Hart of Hart Photographic
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Akron Society of Artists (ASA) has recently occupied gallery space on the third floor of Summit Artspace. With four exhibits under the society’s belt, it currently has a new one on display through May 31 called The Nevin Family: Three Generations of Art.

According to ASA officials, this is a group exhibition that showcases the work of three generations of a single family: Karl Nevin, the grandfather; Michael Nevin, his son; and Daniel Nevin, the grandson.

According to Shirley Blake, an active member of the ASA, the group focused (and still does) on getting “together to work and critique each other’s work.” Recently, however, ASA decided to get into mounting exhibits.

That’s a good thing, for it gives viewers the opportunity to see some special and creative pieces in some organized fashion, like bringing together art makers Karl, Michael and Daniel Nevin. Michael Nevin, the curator for this exhibit, is a signature member of the ASA, he said, and is the one of the three to make art his life’s work.

Michael Nevin said his father, Karl, a newspaperman and a gifted photographer, worked at night to teach himself the skills of painting. Michael Nevin said his father only did a handful of paintings, and three of them are on display in this exhibit.

With works primarily done during the World War II era and just afterward, the viewer can see in the elder Nevin’s work great attention to detail and a strong sense of orderliness. Beside his oil painting called “The Liberty Bell,” there is a 1949 newspaper article showing this particular work, with a commentator rightly noting Karl Nevin’s passion for detail, citing the expressions on the faces of the adult couple and two young children looking at the bell. The critic might also have seen the kind of reverence and melancholy in the adults, who must have been thinking about what the world had just been through.

Michael Nevin shares some of his father’s qualities in his own work, like the attention to minor detail, a fondness for depicting animals and a particular take on the urban environment. Michael Nevin has 17 works on display, most of which show his love of horses.

Michael Nevin said he has been “a horseman a good part of my life.” He especially is taken with draught horses, an emotion you can see in the clarity he gives when depicting them as opposed to the slight blurring of features for the humans. The horses exude vigor and power in his hands.

Most of the scenes of his work come from time he has spent in Amish country — in Ohio, but also in Indiana and Illinois.

In his urban scenes, Michael Nevin said he always works on his acrylic paintings from photographs. His “Lake and Wells, Chicago,” a street scene under an elevated train, is done in a clear nod to photorealism. Michael Nevin captures the tiniest fragments of light bouncing off windows, the sides of automobiles, as well as the larger renderings of daylight creating vast shadows (but made unerringly stark and clear as his father might have done).

Michael Nevin noted he has sold most of his urban pieces, either to corporations or private collections. He has pretty much always worked through dealers, and is still in the art market that way. This exhibit is a chance to see some of these works in a public display.

Daniel Nevin, Michael’s son, has six abstract pieces on display. Even though his ink pen works are clusters of swirls, triangles, blocks, rectangles, canopies, among other geometric ideas, there is, like the other Nevins, that strong sense of clean line, orderliness and utmost concern for the finest details.

This Nevin’s works seem to have a kind of Asian flavor to them. One piece, “Nocturne,” looks like an ink pen drawing of a most amazing Middle Eastern carpet. It has a kind of busyness about it, but at the same time is pieced together so that the individual sections all work and blend into a coherent image.

Summit Artspace is located at 140 E. Market St. The gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.akronsocietyofartists.com.


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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