Color your World at the Stark County Artists Exhibition

By Judi Christy

I have attended a lot of art shows. So has my husband. Normally we part company somewhere between the whoosh of the revolving door and the first taste of slightly icky red wine that I always manage to drink in two gulps. This year’s opening of the Stark County Artists Exhibition at Massillon Museum was no different. The wine still made me pucker – but in a good way, as I excitedly entered the main gallery to see a delicious sampling of the treats from 41 area artists. I noticed some of the usual suspects, both hanging around the gallery and on the walls: Nancy Stewart Matin and Michele Waalkes; Photographer Mark Pitocco, wood smith Tom Migge, Diane Belfiglio and the girl about town, Heather Bullach.

It’s fun to see all the talent under one roof, laying their foundations of oil and acrylic, colored pencil, cloth, clay, glass, paper, plastic and goodness knows what else. As someone who has more trouble drawing the “hangman” than actually playing the game, I am easily overcome with the skill that these fragile few possess. How in the heck did he manage that detail with watercolor? Is that really colored pencil? What in the world gave her the idea to paint that?

It’s like being the kid in the candy store where your eyes dart to the bright and the shiny, and are still pulled to the rich of the chocolate. If only I had more money …
Most of the pieces are for sale. And, some were marked at the November 21 opening, with that coveted shape of all shapes, the little red dot. You are loved! (Maybe it should be a little red heart, as the feeling is certainly the same for the buyer and the seller.)

If it was payday and not the Saturday on the heels of a car repair, I probably would have insisted that a little red dot (heart!) be marked on “The Dog Lay Dead on a Field of Ashes,” a wood cut by William Bogdan. I also liked “Mr. Fluffy and Master Thief,” by M.D. Mahoney. My notes, with three actual stars by this title, indicate that it was an oil. But, I am embarrassed to say that I can’t, for the life of me, remember what it looked like. But, by God, it was starred with a fury. Bruce Humbert’s “Emerald Beauty,” was also in my notebook with an exclamation point and the indication that it also an oil. This means that I also liked it. And, I have a hunch that it was green – not the color of my couch.

Which brings me to a point: I am not an art critic, art writer, artist or art aficionado. I, like so many of you, just know what I like at that particular point of the day, moon rotation, or blood sugar level. Another visit to the Massillon Museum would no doubt be met with other stars, smiley faces and exclamation points.
And, isn’t that the real beauty of it?

Being judged in the eye of the beholder is a tough task for artists. I saw it on the faces of those 41 who waited to see who would be crowned as Best in Show. It was Ted Lawson, a great guy and a very talented painter. I’m happy for Ted; he certainly earned his heart that night.

But, so did 41 artists whose work was selected among a group of 67, with a total submission of 172 entries. Of these, 63 pieces of artwork were chosen to be part of the Stark County Artists Exhibition, a tradition at Massillon Museum since 1934. And, in case you’re checking my math in this paragraph of many numbers, you don’t need an eraser. Some of the 41 artists had multiple pieces selected. Which is pretty great, considering a stipulation of this show is that the work must have been created within the last two years.

So, these people are talented AND prolific.

But, we already knew that. In Stark County we are so lucky to have people who dare to dabble, draw, deconstruct, desire and dream. They invite us to open our eyes – and yes, our wallets, to not only see what they’ve created but also to envision a world that is unframed.

The Stark County Artists Exhibition runs through January 10 at the Massillon Museum. While you’re there, see “Fashion Outlaws,” upstairs and work by the Canton Artists League in Studio M.

Judi Christy 144w" sizes="(max-width: 150px) 100vw, 150px" />Judi Christy is the Special Events and Marketing Manager for Fieldcrest Estate and a blogger for ArtsinStark