A Flowering Pep Talk at Popeye Gallery

Much by Nolan Meyer, acrylic on canvas

A Flowering Pep Talk, curated by Cleveland Institute of Art student Rachel Moell, filled PopEye Gallery during its pop-up, one-night run May 18. The exhibit unfolded with bold color combinations that clung to the walls and wrapped around the room with intensity. Artwork embracing confident hues connected one piece the next and offered distinct perspectives on networks.

PopEye Gallery is located on the third floor of 78th Street Studios and is a pop-up gallery offering exhibition opportunities to emerging artists. The gallery worked with Moell, who was selected by Creativity Works (a self-initiated internship program through the Cleveland Institute of Art and funded by the Fenn Educational Fund of the Cleveland Foundation) to provide a curatorial platform for the exhibition. Rachel included her own artwork and selected works from three other students at the Cleveland Institute of Art. The other artists were Destiny Ryan, Joey Goergen, and Nolan Meyer. The collection of works commonly referenced a sense of community and challenged the typical understanding of networks. Each artist focused on a different type of systematic connection. The variation in approach activated the space with moments of complexity, nostalgia, and investigation.

Destiny Ryan depicted solitude and connectivity by constructing a sculpture focused on anxiety. An open mouth with fully exposed teeth rested on two wide-set legs that fastened into lavender clawed feet. The creature seemed inviting because of the friendly, confident color scheme, but is revealed as a Walking Nightmare.

Walking Nightmare, by Destiny Ryan, acrylic and wood

Another artist, Nolan Meyer, created energized, acrylic paintings that were suggestive of a collision of digital matter and careful consideration for multi-layered networks. His works demand contextual investigation to search for a unique language in brightly colored forms. The paintings have organic forms that become absorbed by another shape, altered and deconstructed into smaller portions of the original shape. The layers simultaneously build and flatten, creating an intriguing system.

Rachel’s curatorial efforts reinforced this sense of construction and restriction. She introduced Nolan’s digital deconstruction of brightly colored forms next to sparse drawings containing straight-forward imagery. Her attention to visual complexity and viewer experience was evident, allowing for an intimate look at each artist’s systematic perspective. Additionally, the inclusion of varied approaches within connected systems allowed for an extended interconnectedness within the gallery and overall conceptual network.

PopEye Gallery presents new pop-up exhibits the third Friday of each month. Next up is Queer Art Show 3, opening June 15.


This article is a part of an initiative by CAN Journal to find and nurture the voices of young writers on art, supported in part by the people of Ohio through a grant from the Ohio Arts Council.

The opinions expressed on CAN Blog are those of the individual writers. Art is somewhat subjective. Well, somewhat. But yes, everybody's a critic.