Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mei-Tai: an Exhibition of Ceramics

From March 31st until April 27th, 2008, Bliss Hall Gallery at YSU will be hosting a show of small scale ceramics. The work was created by YSU students and in 2007 was sent to the National Taiwan University of Art, Department of Craft and Design, in Biancou, to be displayed with the work of students from that university. The work is now back with the additional work of the Taiwanese students.
The Chairperson of the show, Po-Hsien Lin, describes the criteria for the show in the catalog stating: "The exhibition features small scale work that would fit within the dimensions of a shoe box. Convenience for transport was one of the important considerations. Additionally we encouraged our students to express the delicacy of ceramic creations using a limited quantity of material".
It is a privilege to see work from the Orient where ceramic art and technology reached the highest level in world history. It has also been great to see the talents demonstrated by YSU students who have access to one of the finest ceramic studios in America, namely the YSU Ceramics Department. Michael Moseley, Head of this department, deserves an immense amount of credit for his vision and efforts with the students.
Overall the show tends toward sublime beauty, featuring traditional work that is skillfully built and glazed. For me, the most aesthetically pleasing piece is by Johanna George entitled "Canopic Jar for Preserved Bluetooth". This a finely crafted Earthenware vessel is reminiscent of ancient Egyptian Funerary pottery. It is delicately glazed and has the appearance of fine porcelain. I enjoy the concept of our modern technology placed in the context of ancient artifact. Also I understand that Miss George made the wonderful strawberry shortcake that was served at the opening last night. Whether her art is baked in kiln or oven, she is definitely of substantial talent.
There is however, and artist who takes and extreme divergence from the traditional ceramic approaches presented in this show. My favorite work and obviously the most intellectually and spiritually challenging piece is by Jess Adkins. Entitled "Saint (insustainable) George W. Bush with Service and Sacrifice Rosary". An Earthenware figure of George Bush, painted in acrylic, wrapped at the waist with and American flag, bottle of oil in one hand and pistol in the other, looms over a child's toy battlefield surrounded by toy "army men" rendered in porcelain. A handmade Rosary, painted in "camouflage" style, encircles this diorama.
Congratulations to Brian Misavage, Curator of this show and YSU
student, for his successes. His emissary work on International levels has done Youngstown and all of us a tremendous amount of good.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


The new website The Tower Gallery is now online! I would like to thank the Valley based Graphic Design company, Atrijata for all their work and access to their resources. To view the Mission Statement from Atrijata regarding The Tower Gallery please go to our new BLOG.

In many ways, this website is a new benchmark for the Fine Arts in Youngstown. Perhaps most important is that the site is FREE. Fine Artists from the Youngstown area can post up to 24 images and an artist statement free of charge. Our idea is that this site will act as a unifying force for the arts, demonstrating to the world the talent and resources of the Youngstown Fine Art community.

We are currently accepting work for this site. Please contact us through The Tower Gallery. Send us several images(6x8 inches with a rez of 72) and a brief statement about yourself and your work. Some guidelines to consider: We are looking for professional artists. As a general definition, you should be devoting a significant part of your time to the production of Fine Art (or have done so in the past). You should be showing your work in professional venues (or attempting to, or have done so in the past). A history of Fine Art education is definitely a plus, though not a necessity. We are excluding Craft BUT we will include HIGH CRAFT such as fine textile making, fine jewelry making, fine ceramics and metal work.

Even if you currently have a website, please consider using The Tower for the promotion of your work. We are expecting high traffic to this site as this is a truly unique venue for our area and we will be doing a great deal of promotion. We will eventually be hosting an unlimited number of artists, and expect to draw the attention of art buyers and supporters from the region and the world.

Finally, our next goal is to host a show for Fine Artist from the Youngstown area. We currently have 2 tentative venues on offer and we are looking to mid May as a target date for our first show.
Thanks to all who have supported these endeavors.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This Blog Courtesy of Caffeine

June. Acrylic on Panel. 8x10 inches. 2002.

About 6 days ago I decided to cut all caffeine out of my life. I knew it would be difficult, but I never fully appreciated how much so. Since I use alot of sugar in my tea, I found that sugar withdrawl reared its ugly head as well. I went through the usual crappola, including headaches, mood swings and lethargy (and I did not quit cold turkey: I gradually began to wean myself over 2 weeks ago).
The one thing that helped was all the nice weather we'd been experiencing. Today however, with the rain, gloom and cold, the urge to guzzle a mug of sugar loaded Lipton tea hit me like a ton of bricks. So I allowed myself a half a cup of week tea with 1 and a half teaspoons of sugar and Voila' ! I am blogging again! God help me, caffeine has a mortgage on my body and a lien on my soul, to quote one of the great Blues men, Robert Johnson.
Anyway, a brief update on the activities on the Fine Art organization we are slowly building: A website is being constructed for Fine Artists with no web access. Hosting of an artist's images (sculpture, painting etc) will be free or of nominal charge. From what I understand, each artist will receive their own page which can contain a number of images, artist's statement or Bio and contact information. I will keep you posted on further developments, but we hope to have this site fully functional in the next several days.
In addition to the website we are looking for a venue to host a show of emerging and established Fine Artists from Youngstown. The first order of business is to provide a situation for these artists to network with each other. We hope to break down the barriers that have kept us separated for so long and that have kept us from sharing resources. I am assuming the first show will be small but will soon lead to bigger things. No solid plans have been made as of yet. So far we have one tentative venue, and if we get the OK the show will most likely happen in mid May. Right now, our schedules are full so time is tight.
Contact me via email: Artbake777(at) If you would like to participate and have your work on the website.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Eye of the Internet

It has been a long tedious March and I have been feeling under the weather. Or should I say I feel I've been ground under the boot heel of a particularly brutal March. So the blog posts haven't been as prevalent of late.
I wanted to say thanks to everyone who has been sending me emails, particularly those that relate to Art incubation and resources available for the Fine Arts in Youngstown. Thanks to Don P. for his particularly rewarding research. That is a good, solid gold nugget you discovered panning the wild rivers of the Internet, friend.
Don is not exactly of the younger set of Professional Youngstown artists, but he is computer literate, to put it mildly. I have been finding that so many of our older professional Youngstown artists have virtually no computer skills and even fewer of them have access to a computer. Only a very small number have even the slightest web presence. There are a few Youngstown artists who have a strong web presence but these are few in relation to the actual number of professional artists living and working within the city limits.
This is creating many problems for the promotion and growth of the Fine Arts in Youngstown. The most vexing to me is that the younger artists can't network with the older artists due to this high tech divide. Basically the younger artists need the business skills and opportunities form the older artists and they in turn need the computer skills and Internet promotion the youth can provide.
For years I have been urging the older artists to get on board.Only recently have a few become computer friendly. Others are very stubborn and intimidated by the technology.
Another troublesome situation is that, of the artists who are web users, most seem very clumsy with it and can't seem to use the web to its fullest potential. Their computers are very outdated and they are unfamiliar with digital photography and image uploading (no matter how simple it is). They are also badly underestimating the power of the Internet in the lives of their careers. I have seen many situations where these semi-skilled people are given opportunities to promote art events and artists over the web but fail miserably or come up seriously short because of their lack of Internet skills. Essentially we as Professional Youngstown Artists are coming off as a bunch of buffoons to those who perceive the world through the lens of the Internet.
I am hoping to offer some ideas for change but I need some help. Any ideas out there?