Streetscapes: Akron in Plein Air is back for its third year, and it’s showing how changes in the collection of on-site artists can bring a different flavor to the show.
This year the show is being staged on the third floor of Summit Artspace, in the open area in front of Box Gallery. This, according to Brian Shellito, exhibit organizer, is part of an overall plan on the part of the Akron Area Arts Alliance to extend the gallery areas throughout the building.
This year’s winners:
• First Place: Day 1 by Julie Holman.
• Second Place: Texting Undercover by Mark Erdelyi.
• Third Place: Civic Theatre by Mina Huang.
• Honorable Mentions: Still Standing — the Cement Factory, Jana Volkmer; Stadium View, Jeanette Torma; Looking Up the Canal, Carolyn Lewis; Market Street, Mina Huang; and Bridgecrossing — Towpath, Richard Makruski.
On view through Aug. 31, the exhibit has been hung on portable walls rented from Akron Society of Artists, and lit with a phalanx of clamp-mounted swing-arm lamps.
Even if this is a temporary condition based on plans not fully enacted, the condition of the space where this exhibit is being shown is dreary and, despite the light from a long bank of tall windows, more than a little gloomy.
The fact that Shellito, a designer for the Beacon Journal, had to shell out money to rent the portable walls is lamentable, given that both Summit Artspace and the Akron Area Arts Alliance were formed to aid in the presentation of Akron talent.
Shellito seemed not to mind, and said that entry fees for those who took part in this year’s paint-out, held July 27-29, covered the costs and besides, they were the same ones used to display works for the Akron Art Prize.
It’s time someone spoke up about this space. It’s not the worst in the world, but it’s far from what it could be, and it’s within the power of AAAA to do something about it.
Shabby surroundings affect the way that art is seen, and that applies here more than a little.
The portable walls are a shade of dark, mossy green that doesn’t show dirt as much as white walls would, but white walls are better for collecting light, thus more conducive for viewing art.
The temporary light fixtures are also a problem in that they produce glare, which prevents viewers from getting an optimal view of the works.
All that being said, it must also be noted that, with a few exceptions, the works themselves are not as polished as they have been in the past.
Shellito said there were 19 artists participating this year, 11 of whom are new to the Streetscapes project, and some of them were new to on-site, plein-air painting.
Several of the artists decided to revisit sites that won awards last year, sometimes trying for new views, and sometimes not.
Works by newcomers are on the whole fresh and charming, if not as slick and carefully drawn as the work by Akron plein-air veterans, and this is fine. Paintings need not have a professional polish to be appreciated.
Dorothy Shinn writes about art and architecture for the Akron Beacon Journal. Send information to her at the Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640 or email@example.com.