Thursday, September 17, 2015

With Corn as My Witness. Solo Exhibition Statement. University of Mount Union.

Post Card Image. Rain and Rubies. Oil on Canvas. 42x27 Inches. 2014.

 Because of genocide and cultural destruction of the Native Peoples of the Americas, the mythology of corn has been nearly lost. In our Western mythologies and traditions, the glories of the other grains are well known. The Bible would be an example of how wheat, an Old World grain, is heavily mythologized.
 This lack of mythology of corn has allowed us to immensely disrespect the grain, its complexities, history and power. And yet, we are a corn dependent nation. It has become a mere commodity to be bought, sold and manipulated. We consume massive amounts of corn through fuel, food and feed for our livestock. 332 million metric tons of corn are grown every year, with 130 million metric tons being converted into ethanol.
 However, when we step into a cornfield, we feel ourselves being submerged into history and mythology. We hear the whispers of the corn through the breeze as it rustles the long leaves. Go deep enough into a summer stand of corn, and you will swear you are being watched by someone or something, three rows over, just out of sight.
 My immigrant Slovak family had a cattle farm for several generations, where I spent many summers bailing hay and doing other farm work. We grew many acres of corn to feed the livestock. It seemed like everything that I did growing up, everything I experienced, was somehow related to corn. From long hours of hard labor out in the fields under the hot sun, to frigid winter days hunting for that big buck, corn was the one constant.
 As kids, we did crazy things like 'corning' where we threw handfuls of corn at cars, mobile homes and houses. When the grain hit any hard or metallic surface, it sounded like a shotgun blast.
 My teenage years were very difficult, as we often lived in or near poverty. I once asked a girl on a date and she turned me down. I was crushed, as only an artistic, overly sensitive country boy can be. I went out into a corn field to be alone, to soothe my hurt feelings, to try and rid myself of the blackness that was over taking me. As I walked, something glimmering caught my eye among the roots of the young corn. It was a perfect, beautiful arrowhead of a very rare type. I felt elated and I took it as a sign.  
 Corn has been the subject of my paintings for decades now. I love the repetitive qualities of the kernels, the planted stalks and the furrows. Exhibiting an amazing amount of colors, textures and structural features, the plant always keeps me mesmerized and excited. Corn's presence in the Ohio landscape is always profound and sublime for me. I've often found myself awestruck by a whitened, ripened cornfield in December as heavy, winter storm clouds tower above it.
 With the advent of the internet and digital technology, corn remains prominent in our collective vision. Can we ever go a day without corn making some headline in regards to genetic engineering, diet, economic policy or politics?  

Black Dog Series


Paintings from my Black Dog series deal with deep psychological issues, personal battles and view of self. Begun in 1989, the series features a character who faces mayhem and misfortune at every turn. The paintings have won awards at various Butler Museum shows and twice been accepted into the Butler Museums's National Midyear Exhibition.

The Last Snowman. Acrylic on Panel. 24x16 Inches. National Midyear Exhibition. Butler Institute of American Art. 2015.

Enlightenment #1. Acrylic on Panel. 24x18 Inches. National Midyear Exhibition.
Butler Institute of American Art. 2010.

Moonlight on the Furrows

 Moonlight on the Furrows is an oil on canvas and 40x60 inches. It was inspired my many walks in the fields on warm, Autumn nights. Originally titled Fukushima Moon, it is an agitated, irradiated landscape with the moon as antagonist. In 2012 it was shown at the Area Artist Annual, Butler Institute of American Art. In 2013 it was a featured piece in my solo exhibition, Feathers and Fence Posts, Fresh A.I.R. Gallery, downtown Columbus, Ohio. In June of 2015, DNA Gallery hosted my solo exhibition, Sol Invictus, with Moonlight on the Furrows being a featured work.

Moonlight on the Furrows. Oil on Canvas. 40x60 Inches. 2012.

     Moonlight on the Furrows. Displayed at the Butler Institute of American Art. Area Artist Annual. 2012.

My new client and current owner of Moonlight on the Furrows. 
Sol Invictus. Solo Exhibition. DNA Gallery. Downtown Warren, Ohio. June, 2015.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shenango Valley Werewolf

Werewolf.  Acrylic on Panel. 20x16 Inches.

 Western Pennsylvania is known in the paranormal field as a hotbed for strange beings, events and supernatural activity. For 30 years I have been a paranormal researcher, focusing on Humanoids. These are creatures that have a blend of human and supernatural qualities. They can range from normal looking people with superhuman abilities to creatures like Bigfoot and Aliens. 
 One of the most fascinating to me is the Shenango Valley Werewolf, a creature that has haunted the backwoods of western Pennsylvania for decades.
 It has various names, including The Black Beast of West Middlesex and The Dog Boy. Described as frightening in appearance, it has patches of long black hair over white skin, ragged teeth, google eyes, and is about 4 feet tall. It is highly intelligent, can speak and has strange powers.
 In 2006 the book Hunting the American Werewolf (Trails Books, Madison, Wisconsin) was published. Written by renown werewolf researcher Linda Godfrey, the book deals with werewolves from across the United States.
I wrote the subchapter titled The Shenango Valley Werewolf (pages 187-188) within the main chapter The Pennsylvania Pack.

 In the summer of 2014, the national TV show Monster and Mysteries of America (Destination America, owned by Discovery Channel) came to Sharon, Pennsylvania with Linda Godfrey to do a show about the Shenango Dog Boy. I was asked to participate in the show, but due to contractual and logistical reasons, I could not participate. Below is the trailer for the Dog Boy episode:

 This TV show presents the Dog Boy as possibly a disabled child who lived in the area. However, according to the witnesses I interviewed, it is a supernatural creature.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

HELM: His Final Works

HELM, Youngstown Graffiti Artist and Tagger, died recently at the age of 23  as a result of a fall from a bridge while painting. His work illuminated the grim corners of our city. These photos of his paintings were shot in my neighborhood near downtown Youngstown, Ohio.  

To read more about his life click HERE.

  6 x15 feet

  5 x 15 feet

 6 x 20 feet

 5 x 22 feet

5 x 12 feet

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

HELM Dead at 23. Youngstown Mourns.

HELM, the notorious Youngstown graffiti artist and tagger is dead at the age of 23 as a result of a fall from a bridge while painting. He is being mourned across the city by skaters, artists and lovers of Youngstown street culture. Facebook is abuzz with sad sentiments from fans as I write this.

HELM's work can be seen throughout the region known as New Youngstown (the corridor between Gypsy and Belle Vista), in prime locations on bridges, vacant buildings and in alleys.  It is rumored that HELM's hideout was in an abandoned building in the upper Wick neighborhood. 

During the summer and fall of 2013 an infamous battle raged
between HELM and OG that grew ugly, even by Youngstown standards. As the months passed, the drama increased tremendously and there was community outrage. The police intervened, forcing OG to flee the scene and leaving HELM as the undisputed master of the streets and the Night.

Youngstown has thriving modeling and video production industries. Because of HELM's image quality and his choice of aesthetic locations, these industries have included his work in thousands of photos and dozens of video productions. Some of the most beautiful women from northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania have been photographed in conjunction with HELM's graffiti.

So to HELM, Youngstown bids you fond fair-well. May your next life be filled with artistic endeavors and may you find it as enriching as your life in our city. Even as the elements fade your paintings, they will still live on in our hearts and internet modeling portfolios for many years to come.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mural News

 The mural "Ohio Song" is 6x4 feet and is an acrylic on canvas.

During the Autumn of 2014 it was purchased by Columbia Gas for their new corporate headquarters in downtown Columbus, Ohio. 

Fresh A.I.R. Gallery, downtown Columbus, handled the sale.

 Ohio Song originated as a community mural project. A group of great kids helped me paint it at the John J. McDonough Museum of Art as part of the Town Hall Project in 2012.

 In the Autumn of 2103, the mural was a featured piece in my solo exhibition, "Feathers and Fenceposts" at Fresh A.I.R Gallery. State Representative Robert Hagan and State Representative Michael Foley attended the opening.

 The Summer of 2014 brought the inaugural opening of Nove Gatto Gallery (now 'M' Gallery) at the Erie Terminal building in downtown Youngstown with Ohio Song as a featured work.

As part of my ongoing advocacy efforts for artists with mental disabilities, Ohio Song graced the cover of the Spring 2014 Issue of NAMI Ohio Magazine.

State Representative Mike Foley and State Representative Robert Hagan. Fresh A.I.R. Gallery Opening. Downtown Columbus.

Ohio Song. Mural. Acrylic on Canvas. 6x4 Feet. 2012.

The new Columbia Gas corporate headquarters, downtown Columbus, where the mural now resides.

Ohio Song. Cover Art. NAMI Ohio Magazine. Spring 2014 Issue.

Hilton Art Auction

  About a year ago my work was featured in a Gala Art Auction at the beautiful Hilton in downtown Columbus. The sale of the original woodcut titled 'Great Horned Owl' benefitted Fresh A.I.R. Gallery, a nonprofit art venue that exhibits the work of those that have been touched by mental illness and substance abuse.

 It was great night, with about 700 people attending.  The lovely and talented Ms. Courtney Waskin accompanied me.

 Participation in the Art of Recovery Gala Art Auction is part of my ongoing advocacy for mentally disabled artists. The next auction will be happening soon and I plan on donating a large oil painting to the event.

My woodcut on stage, up for auction.

Great Horned Owl. Hand Colored Woodcut. 20x16 Inches.

Ms. Courtney Waskin