Monthly Archives: January 2016

Food for thought: buy art, buy local

by Judi Christy

When Mike Christy and I were young and stupid, we made the decision to do something dangerous. We went to the Starving Artist Sale at what was then a Holiday Inn, someplace toward Cleveland. We had less than 50-bucks, a couch from JC Penney’s overstock sale, and a one-room rental house with bare walls, save for shadow-boxed wedding invitation made by a well-meaning aunt. I would not let Mike put up the Rush poster from his college apartment, so we were pretty much a blank slate.

“We need to buy some art,” I probably said. He, of course agreed.

“But where does one buy art?” we wondered. Neither of our parents were the museum-types, both preferring instead to decorate with framed family pictures from strong-armed salesmen from Olan Mills or the occasional over-the-couch lighthoused landscaped, bought on a whim, from the sales bin at Sears. Mike, as I mentioned, decorated in album covers. And, I had not yet discovered my inner-decorator.

So, we were stumped.

But, then I saw an ad on TV. “The Starving Artist Sale. Original Artwork starting at 10-dollars.”

Well dang. Let’s just hop in the K-car and bring our checkbook.

And so we did.

But, the Starving Artist Sale was stupid. It involved rows and rows of 8-foot tables lined with wooden crates of categorized “masterpieces,” from which to choose. Clowns were very popular as were street scenes from what I’m guessing was Paris. Abstracts, a term I would later learn, were plentiful too, although Mike thought they were “garbage” while I was slightly perplexed by the claim of the boxes and boxes of originals that looked exactly the same.

We liked nothing.

But, because I am a wuss, I always feel guilty for not buying something from someone – particular an artist, who I naïvely feared was starving. So, we ended up with this orange and yellow oil of a vase of flowers, matted in tan (to bring out the richness of the mums) and factory packed in a cheesily carved faux wood frame. It was cheap and small. But, despite those attributes, it sadly did not match the couch – or the drapes, or for that matter, our tastes. And, so I ended up giving it to my mother AS A GIFT. She loved it and had it hanging, for years, right above the toilet in my childhood home. If you’re intrigued, you might just find it at Goodwill.

But, I’m getting sidetracked.

The point is, there was no real starving artist behind that hideous painting or the big box buffoonery that is the Starving Artist Show and Sale. It’s a sham and a shame.
If you want art, buy art.

But, don’t go to the Holiday Inn, the No Tell Motel, or the department store. Buy art from an artist. A real artist. One who has paint under his fingernails and grit in his blood. Someone, who, in spite of his best efforts, is having one heck of a time trying to make a living doing what God, and more than likely, his mother, intended him to do. (Side note: My use of male pronouns does not mean I’m sexist, just confused as to which to use with a singular noun.) I mean all artists, as regardless of gender, the pay is equally a challenge.

And don’t be fooled. These Starving Artist Shows and Sales still go on – all the time. I recently heard a barrage of ads on TV, peppered between the lowest prices of the season sale at Levin and a weight loss supplement that guaranteed significant weight loss without diet or exercise.

They use the same tactic of granting wishes without work. And, it works. These shows are packed – all across the county, hooking people like the 1984 versions of clueless Mike and Judi who just needed something for the living room without spending too much money.

It’s probably because the pitch, the same I remember, is so unbelievably compelling:

“At the Starving Artist Show, you will discover original hand painted oils and acrylics that exhibit vibrant color and the rich hues that can only be created with the palette knife and brush of a skilled artist. Large oils and acrylic abstracts thickly painted and signed by both local and international artist. Deeply discounted from gallery prices….Making art affordable for everyone.”

News flash – Art is affordable for everyone. Original Art signed by original people, not carbon copied canvases slathered with thick paint and flown in from a warehouse. We have plenty of starving artists in Stark County. Feed your soul. End the hunger. Buy local.

Stark County artist profile: Ted Lawson

Each week we will be featuring a different Stark County artist. Get to know the amazing talent in our community.

By Laurie Fife Harbert

It is well known that Canton and Stark County are blessed with an abundance of creative and skilled artists, both natives and transplants who have adopted this area as their own. Born in Indiana, watercolorist Ted Lawson falls into the latter category, but as a resident here for over 35 years, Canton is definitely home to him. Though a mechanical engineer by trade, Lawson kept art in his life since he first began honing his skills as a high school student in Arizona. While his medium is primarily watercolor, he also works in acrylics on occasion. Upon retiring from his day job in 2010, Ted has been able to devote himself fully to his artwork.

Though the stereotype of the unorganized, flighty, illogical, right-brained artist seems at odds with the rational, ordered, left-brained mind necessary to be an engineer, Ted is one of those rare individuals who makes both aspects work for him. When asked how the engineer became an artist, he insists that the question should be: How did the artist become an engineer? His approach to the compositional side of his paintings is decidedly engineer-like, while his eye for subject matter, color choices, and brush skills all encompass the soul of an artist. He works in a representational manner, with a painterly fluidness using highly saturated colors that has become his signature style. It is the shape and composition of both the overall painting and the focal points within it that follow the logical side, as they are based on the Fibonacci sequence/golden mean aspect ratio of width divided by height, or 1.618. For those not familiar with the golden mean, it is the application of a math concept to shapes consistently found in nature, and it is particularly pleasing to the human eye. The curve of ocean waves, the shape of a human ear, or the seed pattern in a sunflower are among many natural items adhering to this principal.

Travel is an important part of finding inspiration and subject matter for Lawson’s cityscapes. He has been to and painted scenes from numerous countries including Italy, France, Austria, Nepal, and Istanbul. New York City is also a popular choice for him, as his daughter lives there. When asked where he would still like to travel to find more fodder for his paintings, with a gleam in his eye he states, ‘Everywhere.’ While Ted takes many pictures for a possible painting while on site, he doesn’t compose with the camera. The layout for the resulting painting is done later on a computer, where he digitally combines several elements from numerous photos into the final composition, always utilizing the 1.618 ratio.

Long active in the local art community, Lawson has recently begun expanding his artistic reach geographically. His work is currently in the Cleveland area at Gallery + at the 78th Street Studios and was part of an invitational group exhibit at Pleaides Gallery in New York City in 2014. Locally, he has exhibited at the Canton Museum of Art, Second April Galerie, The Little Art Gallery of the North Canton Public Library, and earned the top award of best in show in the Massillon Museum’s 2015 ‘Stark County Artists Exhibition.’ Ted is a signature member of the Ohio Watercolor Society and a past president of the Canton Artists League. Enthusiastic about sharing his talent, knowledge and methods with others, he teaches watercolor classes at the Canton Museum of Art. To see more of Ted’s work and to contact him, visit his website at
Laurie Fife Harbert is a writer, a Canton native, an ailurophile, a visual artist, a bibliophile, a mother of two, and an oenophile—not necessarily in that order.





SymphonyLand Series Begins its Sixth Year

After six years bringing music to children ages 3 to 6 years, the SymphonyLand Series is going strong! Presented by the Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and sponsored in part by The Hoover Foundation, SymphonyLand trios introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra in an interactive format created specifically to engage young listeners. The series begins with the string trio on Wednesday January 13 and Saturday January 16 at 10am and 11am each day in Foundation Hall of the Zimmermann Symphony Center (2331 17th Street NW, Canton).

“We began SymphonyLand six years ago as somewhat of an experiment,” says Lisa Boyer, Director of Education and Community Engagement for the CSO. “We’ve kept it going because this format has been well-received by both educators and parents for engaging children and generating their interest in music.” Each trio performance incorporates an age-appropriate story book along with educational components in music, reading and social studies.

This year, the trios will be utilizing books from Barefoot Books. The string trio begins the series on January 13 and 16 with I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur. On February 17 and 20, the woodwind trio will perform along with the book Elusive Moose and the brass trio performances on March 9 and 12 will feature Hidden Hippo. The SymphonyLand trio performances are offered at 10:00 and 11:00am each day.

All of the SymphonyLand concepts and instrument families will come together on April 13 at 9:30 and 10:30am for the Kinder Concert which features the full orchestra. The program, conducted by Associate Conductor Rachel Waddell, will include the book Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson. This year, local artist Joe Martino will paint a new piece of art during the performances bringing the story and music together with a unique visual element. The Kinder Concert is held at Canton’s Cultural Center for the Arts.

All of the SymphonyLand and Kinder Concert programs are open to the public as well as school groups. Tickets are $5 for each performance or $15 for the entire series which includes one performance of each trio and the Kinder Concert. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the Canton Symphony box office at 330-452-2094 weekdays 9am – 5pm. There is a special rate for school groups – call Lisa Boyer at 330-452-3434 ext. 604 for more information.

Founded in 1937, the Canton Symphony Orchestra is a fully professional ensemble and organization dedicated to performing concerts that enrich, educate, and entertain residents of Stark County and beyond. The orchestra performs classical, holiday, and a variety of educational programs in Umstattd Hall, 2323 17th Street NW, Canton, Ohio, as well as other venues in Stark County. For more information, please visit or call (330)452-2094. Administrative offices are located at the Zimmermann Symphony Center, 2331 17th Street NW, Canton, OH 44708.