On View at the Akron Art Museum


Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries

Through April 24, 2016


For Depthless Without You, Natalie Lanese painted chevrons and stripes directly on the Akron Art Museum gallery floor and walls to generate illusions that play with viewers’ perceptions of dimension. The site-specific installation alternately emphasizes and disguises flat surfaces’ lack of depth.

“Depthlessness is a concept I’ve dealt with in the work for a long time. I like the double meaning of the word—both unfathomably deep and shallow or superficial,” the artist explains. “I’m really interested in the paradoxical nature of the optical illusions I’m playing with, and the potential for this work to be perceived in multiple ways.”

In NEO Geo, Lanese is joined by seven other artists who use geometric abstraction to explore depth and perceptual illusion, sometimes as metaphors for broader themes, such as the tension between the natural and the artificial. Painters Erik Neff and Gianna Commito and textile artist Janice Lessman-Moss create the illusion of space in two-dimensions, while sculptors Paul O’Keeffe and Amy Sinbondit explore space in three. Photographer Michelle Marie Murphy and printmaker Kristina Paabus make works that resemble Op Art, a type of geometric abstraction in which complex, repeating patterns create illusionary effects.

Trained in art and entomology, Erik Neff’s work is filled with muted, earthy colors. Soft-edged, block-like forms fill the foregrounds of Neff’s paintings, while flurries of thick brushstrokes cover the backgrounds. Neff composed three sculptures exhibited in NEO Geo from wood scraps he uses to heat his studio, which is situated in a rural, wooded setting.  Join the artist as he leads a tour of highlights from the museum’s collection on Thursday, February 25 at 6:30 pm.

In contrast to the organic sensibility of the forms in Erik Neff’s paintings, Paul O’Keeffe’s acrylic sculptures are composed of precise, hard edges. Extending just a few inches off of the wall, their highly reflective, translucent surfaces play with viewers’ perception by shifting colors depending on the angle at which the works are seen. O’Keeffe will lead a tour of works in the museum collection on Thursday, April 21 at 6:30 pm.



Judith Bear Isroff Gallery

Through September 3, 2016

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Bread, cereal, eggs, soup, and spaghetti: the list of edibles portrayed by the artists featured in Snack could double as a grocery list. Snack is a (mostly) lighthearted look at works drawn primarily from the Akron Art Museum collection that depict food or the places we buy and consume it through humor, pop culture and nostalgia.

Artists in Snack, particularly those working in the style of Photorealism, depict food and eating establishments in ways that express nostalgia and the delights of culinary desire. John Baeder’s screenprint Red Robin is part of a career-long effort to depict at-risk roadside diners from last century, which have been increasingly supplanted by fast food chain restaurants. Charles Bell is attracted to subjects that have connotations of childhood, such as toys or candy. His large-scale colored pencil drawing of a gumball machine is a colorful treat for the eyes.

Some of the artists in Snack use humor as a segue to deeper or darker ideas underlying their work, exploring issues such as self-doubt, and race and gender discrimination. The funny phrases that serve as decoration on Kristen Cliffel’s ceramic cupcake sculptures reveal the artist’s own self-doubts in light of the societal pressures she faces as a wife and mother. A poster by the Guerilla Girls, a group of anonymous activist artists who combat racism and sexism through collaboratively produced works, uses a food-related gag to broach the topic of discrimination in the art world.

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Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Gallery
Through July 31, 2016

PULP features photographs that reposition the aesthetic value of paper ephemera in abstract compositions, conceptual investigations and cultural critiques. Drawing its title from the pulp that paper is created from, as well as “pulps”—lurid novels and magazines that proliferated in the early 1900s—the exhibition emphasizes cheap, throwaway paper products that are ubiquitous in modern society. Newspapers, magazines and posters, discarded from their intended purposes, become malleable subject matter for a diverse roster of artists.

Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind and Ralph Steiner turn their cameras on posters plastered on walls, creating flattened, abstracted compositions to investigate formal aesthetics. Pavel Baňka and Gloria DeFilipps Brush use newspapers as props in their introspective images that speak to social and personal anxieties. In their politically motivated work, Judith Golden and Richard Misrach reframe partial images found in magazines, analyzing how they are perceived and problematizing the violent and conformist values they affirm.

These and other artworks in PULP, drawn from the Akron Art Museum collection, recontextualize their subject matter through unexpected juxtapositions or viewpoints. Themselves produced on paper, the photographs recycle and reframe fragments of everyday visual experience.


Animals As Muse
The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation Gallery
March 10 – August 14, 2016

Chances are, at some point in your life, a pet or animal has inspired your imagination or taught you something about the wonder of the world around you. Animals in art appear throughout history, dutifully serving as background detail, faithful friends and even stepping forward as portrait-worthy subject matter in iconic paintings and many other works. Animal As Muse showcases artwork from the museum’s collection that features artists’ conceptions of animals in many of the roles they play in humans’ lives.


Artwork included in the exhibition ranges from fanciful and surreal conceptions of wildlife, such as Ellen Lanyon’s painting, The Disguise—in which a pair of lunar moths seem to combine to create the countenance of a lion—to realistic depictions of human-animal interactions. Among these is Sandra Weiner’s 1973 photograph, Easter Morning, Ninth Avenue, 1973, which captures a moment of play between a child and a pet dog on a sunny New York sidewalk. Additional work on view will include photographs by Pavel Baňka and Helen Levitt, and a glittering assemblage of beads, costume jewels and found objects by outsider artist Simon Sparrow, who fashioned the items to create a vibrant image of a green snake.



NEO Geo: Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries, through April 24, 2016

Snack: Judith Bear Isroff Gallery, through September 3, 2016

PULP: Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Gallery, through July 31, 2016

Animals As Muse: The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation Gallery, March 10 – August 14, 2016

Akron Art Museum

One South High Street

Akron, Ohio 44308