May I? Yes, You May: the 2023 May Show at Lakeland Community College

James Hall, Light Beyond the Hills, oil on canvas.

Now on view at the Gallery at Lakeland Community College, we find portraits without manners, staring back at you; an exuberant post-modern sculpture looking like an escapee from the 1980s; and an extraordinary number of works made of mixed media—all part of the 80 pieces of work in this year’s May Show, on through July 14.

Donald Stuart, Bird Machine, glazed ceramic, and leather.

Joy abounds, with restraint. The contemplative stillness of James Hall’s composed landscape “Light Beyond the Hills” and Beth Lindenberger’s porcelain “Diatoms: Charged” are lovely invitations to wander through the first gallery, where quiet landscapes and organic elements—water, waves, and hills—welcome viewers graciously. Surprise awaits beyond: bricolage at its best, whimsy on walls, stalwart portraits creating their own society, and the marching solace of still lifes.

Raymond Bugelski, Nooks and Crannies, Mixed Media

In “Nooks and Crannies,” Raymond Bugelski assembles a measured riot of plastic dolls, anatomical parts, and animal statuettes with a whiff of the shrine about it. Gwen Waight’s “Don’t Call Me Baby” balances wood and metal as they crack and rust and pendulums shimmy in the gallery air. “XYZ” and “CRASH,” a pair by Sharon Dundee, layer slices of book pages, stenciled words, and partially effaced numbers on intersecting planes.

It’s notable that more than a quarter of the 80-work show uses some sort combination of media: collage, or several types of 3D materials, or a mix of painting and printmaking, or fabric with pastel and charcoal, or glazed ceramic and leather, or found objects and paint, or the simple phrase: “mixed media.” Maybe it’s a way to manage the environment of our post-pandemic world, interpreting the overwhelm by taking bits of stuff to make sense of the ineffable. After all, isn’t that what art is, anyway?

Maxwell Miller, The Journeyman, oil on panel. Best in Show.

Interestingly, the Best in Show award was given to “The Journeyman,” Maxell Miller’s chiaroscuro self-portrait in the classical tradition of the artist-in-his-studio trope.

In this show, the subjects feel encapsulated and measured out, whether contained in a three dimensional box like Luanne Bole-Becker’s “Worlds of Our Own Making,” or in Karen Maizel’s portrait, “Everyone’s Got a Backstory.” Both rely on sharp lines delineating what is seen in what order, layering the background in a narrative that comments on what your eye finds first.

Randall Oldrieve, Journey to the Centre (detail), fused plastic bags.

And the figurative works are bold here: most are of individuals, the vast majority of which are looking straight back at you, from the massive, larger than life portrait, “Rita,” by Mark Giangaspero to the layered, tamped-down colors of Nancy Lick’s “Krisha.” In Randall Oldrieve’s “Journey to the Centre,” composed of fused plastic bags, an inquisitive eye glares from a face floating in a sea of blue.

Wrapping up the show is a long gallery of mainly still life works and small landscapes: the expectant crossroads of Tatiana Tate’s “Waldon, Michigan,” glowing richness of “Turnips” by Janet Stolle, and the attainable bit of the universe, courtesy of John Sargent’s “Procession.”

John A. Sargent III, Procession, Oil on Canvas.

Claudia Berlinski, the Director of the McDonough Museum of Art, was the show’s juror. “The volume of talent in the Greater Cleveland area is astounding and does not make for an easy job of jurying. Craftsmanship, diversity of media, and thought-provoking themes ate a testament to the dedication of self-expression and the artists’ passion for making.”

See for yourself. The Gallery at Lakeland Community College is located on the first floor of the D-building at Lakeland Community College, 7700 Clocktower Drive, Kirtland, Ohio. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 9 pm; Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm. Closed Sunday.

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