The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jan 23, 2013

Recent abstract art focus of Summit Artspace exhibition

Posted by rdurbin

The current exhibit at Summit Artspace, a Knight arts grantee, might seem a little confusing from the handout enumerating and describing the installation. It reads as though the whole show featuring abstract painters/mixed media artists Michael Gable and Natalie Petrosky is called “More Songs about Buildings and Land.” In walking through the exhibit, you notice right away that Petrosky’s collection (off in an auxiliary space) is called “Treasure Prezzies.”

So essentially there are two exhibits going on here, with them being related by the abstract artist aesthetic – with the artists diverting away from representational and pictorial forms in favor of a veering away from the visual references (a building, say) and making it look less like itself as most people might expect it in art.

Michael Gable said of his work, “I have always referenced my surroundings, if only as a jumping off point,” and that would seem the case, yet even he qualifies his development as an artist. Now instead of “destroying the existence of these references in the negotiation process of painting,” he has been able “to leave well enough alone,” and I’m thinking, allow glimpses of the subjects of his paintings.

His “Landscape with Photo of Landscape” probably depicts the point and shift most clearly for a viewer. In a pretty basically beige painting where you can see a glimmer of something golden to the side, Gable has attached a photograph of the subject that started him along his artistic way. It is a picture across a field with MacDonald’s golden arches visible on the horizon.

Michael Gable, "Landscape with Photo of Landscape." Photo by Clint Beeler

The works in Gable’s show range from minimalist and small pieces done with marker on paper, through oil and graphite on paper (again small works), through larger oil and graphite works on canvas. The pieces tend to the muted in a French impressionist way, even one of his most colorful, “White Hair, White Skin, Black Glasses,” especially when viewed adjacent to the bright, in-your-face large acrylic works done by Petrosky.

Michael Gable, "White Hair, White Skin, Black Glasses." Photo courtesy of Summit Artspace Michael Gable, "White Hair, White Skin, Black Glasses." Photo courtesy of Summit Artspace

Petrosky’s “Treasure Prezzies” are an array of acrylic paintings within which the artist combines found objects (like lead pipes, CD-Rom sleeves, pieces of a coffee cup and the like), along with her interest in incorporating thread.

Natalie Petrosky, "Swatches." Photo by Clint Beeler Natalie Petrosky, "Swatches." Photo by Clint Beeler

Her inclusion of bare, raw canvas in places is interesting, as is her use of thread. She has noted that the thread “creates a cocoon around an objects that hugs and contours its shape,” so that most “of the object is hidden, but its high points seek to poke out and reveal information.” Her “Nat Geo” illustrates how she uses thread to draw on and shape her canvas.

Natalie Petrosky, "Nat Geo." Photo courtesy of Summit Artspace Natalie Petrosky, "Nat Geo." Photo courtesy of Summit Artspace

Michael Gable’s “More Songs about Buildings and Food” and Natalie Petrosky’s “Treasure Prezzies” will be on view Thursday from 12-9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 12-5 p.m. through February 23, in Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St., Akron; 330-376-8480; Admission is free.

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