Fri 5/9 @ 6pm
Tremont’s Doubting Thomas Gallery isn’t a stereotypical “white cube” exhibition space. The building’s unique characteristics give it a personality unlike most commercial spaces. Sometimes the building’s character creates obstacles and complications for curators, artists and even visitors. However, the gallery’s regular cast of curators have developed strategies to take advantage of the space.
This is especially true of curator and photographer Natalia Dale – who was inspired by the gallery’s divided floorplan. Her latest exhibition, 5 in the Fifth, features 5 local female artists in each of Doubting Thomas’ five “rooms.” Participating artists include Michelle Black, Natalia Dale, Catherine Spencer, Grace Summanen and Meg Wilson.
“5 in the Fifth is a show concept I came up with after curating large group shows,” explains Dale. “I wanted to scale things down, and give an opportunity for art lovers to become more familiar with the bodies of work of some of the area’s female artists. Doubting Thomas has 5 ‘rooms’, therefore I chose 5 artists. In this exhibit, I have brought together a group that encompasses different disciplines of the art world. We may use similar materials in our works but the results are all quite different!”
Dale will be exhibiting work from her current Silhouette series. Her recent work has been experimenting with incorporating her photography into mixed media techniques and vice-versa. She has recently traveled to New Mexico multiple times to attend alternative painting and mixed media workshops.
Catherine Spencer’s abstract paintings have a strong sense of fluidity – as if the canvases were liquid or melting like Salvador Dali’s timepieces. The paintings have strong compositions and bold palettes. The subject matter’s ambiguity supports an introspective experience and personal interpretation.
“My paintings were transformed after a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, where I recognized that I constantly try to find the familiar in unfamiliar imagery,” reflects Spencer. “After that life changing experience I began to focus on producing imagery that walks the line between both representation and abstraction. I love a good challenge and painting fulfills my need to experiment with color and project my perspective of the world.”
Grace Summanen studied at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and School of Visual Arts in NYC before receiving her MFA from Kent State in 2011. Summanen creates unique forms using bright,vibrant paint over recycled objects. These objects have organic, sometimes biological visual characteristics. Her selection of materials creates interesting textures and three-dimensional forms that seem to grow and flow out of the gallery walls.
“Seeing the world from different perspectives has always been of intrigue — to discover, to see deeper, to understand,” says Summanen. “Lines often get blurred in this process, and answers are often continually shifting. My work blurs traditional lines of painting and sculpture. I use common everyday objects to create painting surfaces that transform these throw away objects into something more than their intended use; blurring the lines between high and low art. These materials are familiar to me and ground me in my history. I want the viewer to investigate what makes up the relief part of the paintings. In this discovery a mystery opens up so you can see what was thought to be obscure, and perspective on the usefulness of our everyday objects is transformed.”
Michelle Black is a highly-talented, professional photographer. This will be her first show in Cleveland in nearly 10 years. Her work for 5 in the Fifth explores her connection with nature. Her work tends to capture the atmosphere of intimate moments in enchanting ways.
“Always acting with ‘the bigger picture’ in mind helps us consciously exist as a part of the greater whole: we are more than just individuals, we are part of an Infinite Universe,” says Black. “This is a journey.”
Meg Wilson is a graduate of Cleveland Institute of Art. In recent local gallery exhibitions (including previous shows at Doubting Thomas), Wilson’s sculptural work has been enchanting viewers. A few months ago, she created an online comic strip, Buntitled, on Tumblr. The strip follows the daily life and misadventures of a white bunny and (occasionally) his whiskey-addicted robot sidekick, Rabbot. Wilson’s been regularly publishing a new strip every Monday, Wednesday and Friday since January.
“There’s really something to be said about the Cleveland art scene,” says Wilson. “It carries an energy that is so unlike anything I’ve ever experienced – it’s this buzzing charge that you can feel in the air at the gallery openings and art walks. The passion and excitement that’s shared in discussing ideas and working with artists gets inside you. It gets deep down in there, and it starts to grow. It’s infectious. I can’t fully express how grateful, proud, and fortunate I feel knowing that I’ve been a part of it.”
The combination of humor and heart is masterful. It may already be the best comic to be produced in Northeast Ohio since Bill Watterson stopped working on Calvin and Hobbes. Unfortunately, this is scheduled to be Meg Wilson’s final show in Cleveland before moving to the East Coast. However, she’s giving Cleveland a VERY special going away gift. Her “room” for 5 in the Fifth will be filled with sketches from Buntitled. Don’t miss this chance to procure an early relic before her inevitable fame and fortune. Just be sure to get there early before I spend my entire paycheck buying them all myself.
Josh Usmani is a 27 year old local artist, curator and writer. Since 2008, his work has been featured in over 50 local and regional exhibitions.