74th Annual May Show Little Art Gallery

by Judi Christy

The older I get, the more I realize that there are only a few things that can be counted: True friends; immediate family; the nose tingle from too much wine; and the May Show in North Canton. For 74 years (about 20 before my time), Stark County artists, aged 16 or older, have had the opportunity to have their 2D and 3D work be part of a rigorously juried show that according to the catalog, is “designed to recognize the talents and achievements of local artists.”

This year, 50 pieces made the cut. A husband and wife juried team, the first in the show’s history, made the tough decisions from over 80 submissions. Christopher and Mary Hoot noted that it took five rounds of deliberations to reduce the pieces and select the finalists. And, I have to wonder if this process was easier or more difficult given not only their varied background in art, graphic design, research and publishing plus their vows to “love, honor and obey.”

In any case, they did a fine job. The exhibit is varied, fun and perplexing.

According to Elizabeth Blakemore, curator of the Little Art Gallery (inside the North Canton Public Library), all pieces are put on the walls or on display shelves for the jury process. No slide or electronic submissions are accepted. Jurors see the real deal and choose the show by removing pieces one at a time until they get the mix that works – at least for them. “Each composition set a tone and the most successful ones were evident quick quickly while others took some time to fully appreciate,” wrote the Hoots in their juror statement.

As BEST In SHOW, they chose “Petite Pinto,” a jaunty jointed horse by artist Pat Waltz and created with fabric, stoneware and embroidery. I noticed it right away, smiling at its playfulness and not even realizing (or seeing) its accolade until it was pointed out by Miss Blakemore. (I’m observant like that.) I was also draw to “Vegan Butcher Shop” (even before I read the title) for its humor and execution of paint on glass. And, although it didn’t have a shiny ribbon of appreciation for artist John Bruce Alexander, it was the first piece to sell at the show’s opening. So there’s that.


 

Other pieces that caught my attention were Russ Hench’s “Key West Wake Up Call,” a big rooster that you will not be able to miss when you visits the gallery; “Teabag on Cardboard,” by Allyson Stiffler for its accuracy on name and visual; and Michelle Mulligan’s gourd collection enhanced with acrylic and found objects and titled, “Her Story.” First place “Rainclouds Near Hartville,” also caught my eye, but only after seeing it very up close to appreciate the detail and richness of the dark and stormy night caught by the brush of artist Ron Watson.

But, hey what do I know?

I am not an artist. Sure, I can draw a hangman, but I am so much better at guessing the word in this game of wit and will.

That’s why I can certainly appreciate an artistic/mathematic equation made from LEGOs, a stiff white button-down flanked with an American flag and crucifix, and oversized face of a woman with blue lips and a serious looking Civil War soldier. But, I’m sure you will find others that will make you smile, click your tongue or perhaps scratch your head or conscience. And, that’s the beauty of the eye of the beholder breakthrough.

So, don’t rush it. Walk around. Stop. Think. And do it again. It took the jurors five spins before they got dizzy and jumped off the ride with their hands up to make the statement of “That’s it!”

So, take your time.

The 74th May Show @ The Little Art Gallery runs this whole month. It is FREE and open to the public during the open hours of the North Canton Public Library (185 N. Main Street, North Canton) where it is housed. See it Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.