CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS HAVE ACCESS TO UNFATHOMABLE AMOUNTS OF INFORMATION AND IMAGERY, from art history to pop culture, psychology to botany, and from nearby and overseas. Artists working today also have wide freedom to experiment with styles, techniques and subject matter, and to blend traditional art practices with their contemporary views and interpretations of the world. This freedom is reflected in the broad range of perspectives and approaches to art-making among the 51 living artists represented in Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose on view at the Akron Art Museum through May 7. The artists come from around the world, expressing distinctive voices and visions through their work. Each has been featured in the popular art magazine Hi-Fructose, a publication founded by Annie Owens-Seifert and Daniel “Attaboy” Seifert to cover and promote artists and artworks within a recognizable but not easily defined aesthetic. Richly layered narrative imagery, renderings in vivid color or brooding gray tones, stylized figures and imagined creatures are just some of the recurring elements in the magazine and in this exhibition celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Turn the Page offers the opportunity to view lush original works of art, beyond the flat worlds of paper and digital screens where they are most often seen. Though their subjects and styles are radically diverse, all the artists featured in Turn the Page demonstrate mastery of their chosen media. Both new and traditional artistic processes are represented. Skillfully rendered scenes by Mark Ryden, Kehinde Wiley, Jennybird Alcantara, Jean-Pierre Roy, Martin Wittfooth and others embrace the luminous qualities of oil painting, a centuries-old artistic medium. Their imagery reflects their understanding of oil paint’s history while also advancing relevant contemporary concepts. As with his other portraits of anonymous African American subjects,
volume 13 | 2017 • www.aroundkent.net
Kehinde Wiley’s Philip the Fair references a specific art historical composition, in this case a stained glass window depicting a French king. In using both a medium and composition drawn from centuries-old art, Wiley calls attention to historical disparities between portrayals of whites and people of color and the power structures they indicate.
Elizabeth Carney Assistant Curator
Turn The Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose at the Akron Art Museum Through May 7, 2017 Several artists use traditional media with unexpected twists. Camille Rose Garcia embellishes her acrylic paintings with glitter, as in The Ghost of G Sharp Seven, further dramatizing their intense, acidic color palettes and hinting at dark fairy tales. Wayne White paints humorous sayings, not on blank canvas but over cheaply produced paintings found in thrift stores, commenting on kitsch and the professional art world. A variety of unusual media applications and combinations also appear. Chris Berens applied ink to thin plastic sheets and layered multiple versions of the same images onto canvas to create his dreamlike, soft-focus panorama Half Way There. Brian Dettmer carves into old books with a scalpel, revealing images and text in new juxtapositions. His sculpture Log 2 was crafted from an outdated dictionary. Lisa Nillson uses quilling—a craft technique used by late Renaissance European nuns and monks to decorate holy objects—to recreate cross-
sections of human anatomy, combining scientific analysis, artistic interpretation, and the preciousness of religious reliquaries. Modern technology is important to many artist processes. Wim Delvoye’s 6-foot-long Cement Truck takes the form of a miniature construction vehicle constructed from laser-cut stainless steel; the glittering designs come from European Gothic architecture, displaying high pointed arches and ornate spires. Ray Caesar composes his images of female figures using a 3D modeling software, painstakingly building, posing, coloring and texturing the digital forms like dolls, eventually realizing them as digital ultrachrome prints. A projected video using artist Olek’s signature crochet combines new and traditional craft media, while Tracey Snelling’s Night Alley incorporates moving images and sound into mixed media sculpture. Turn the Page reflects the variety, vibrancy and depth of the contemporary art world. The artwork is beautiful, grotesque, enlightening, disturbing and thought provoking, and speaks to who we are today, especially as our lives become more digitized and globally connected. The exhibition was organized by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, where it debuted in 2016. Following its showing in Akron, the exhibition travels to the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California. Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose is organized by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Generous funding is provided by the City of Virginia Beach, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Tourism Corporation, as well as other MOCA supporters. Its presentation in Akron is supported by Ohio Arts Council, the Calhoun Charitable Trust, Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC and the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau. Media sponsorship is provided by Western Reserve PBS and 91.3 The Summit.