Many artists use observed reality as a starting point in their work; others arrive at recognizable imagery through a process of invention and discovery. There can, of course, be a combination of these approaches and numerous variations, sometimes leading to complete abstraction. Of prime importance is the distinct creative statement of the individual artist and, as evidenced by the three artists featured here, the results can be meaningful, beautiful, and compelling.
Pillow Talk acrylic on paper, 30 x 22”, 2012
Woman Warrior cone 10 stoneware with white slip and iron oxide, 13 x 4”, 2017
P A T R I C I A Z I N S M E I S T E R P A R K E R
It might be said that among the subjects of Patricia Zinsmeister Parker’s paintings is the act of creative expression itself. Her work contains a remarkable degree of freedom and spontaneity and uses the form of painting—color, shape, line, paint handling, etc.—to create a kind of visual thinking and feeling. There is a strong presence of sheer exuberance in the act of making the work that is clearly conveyed to the viewer. The visual source of her inspiration is more specific in some paintings than in others and may only be discovered by her as the work is in progress. Often, there may only be hints of representational imagery in the final work, or even none at all. This reflects the degree of freedom that Parker allows herself in her approach to painting. Too often, an artist’s strict adherence to initial intentions can limit the possibilities of discovery; this is not the case here.
First Mate gouache on paper, 22 x 22”, 2016
Fear of Speaking mixed media on Bristol, 11 x 17”, 2016
The importance of observation is clear in Callaghan’s work, regardless of subject:
My practice is centered on an exploration of my environment through observational drawing and painting. I paint all kinds of things … places around my neighborhood or even my backyard. I don’t find it banal because when we look at something for a long time, it changes and we begin to see it differently. I suppose that’s what attracted me to painting in the first place. The paintings, they are about me looking at my immediate surroundings; the places, people, and things I see everyday. In my work, I am seeking a sense of place.
Timothy Callaghan earned a BFA from The Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA in 2005 from Kent State University. His work has been exhibited extensively, including numerous solo shows at the William Busta Gallery, Cleveland, Ohio. Group shows include: Frederieke Taylor Gallery, New York City; Seraphin Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, Illinois; Cleveland State University; and Heights Arts, Cleveland, among others. He has taught at Oberlin College, Cuyahoga Community College, The Cleveland Institute of Art, and Kent State University. Callaghan received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in 2015 and is the author of One Painting a Day. A Six-Week Course in Observational Painting: Creating Extraordinary Paintings From Everyday Experiences, published by Quarry Books in 2013. www.timothycallaghan.com
As she describes it, simple observed realities can serve as a jumping off point for her explorations of beauty and painterly resolution.
Many years ago, I came across a book written by the American sculptor, David Smith. The book was, in essence, a list of all the influences on his work and to my surprise, they were not earth-shaking or profound, but rather consisted of mundane minutia like the pattern of leftover fish bones after a meal of cod and the way grass shimmers in the sun after a rain storm. I responded to his observations with a sense of simpatico because I share this same aesthetic, that beauty is pervasive and may be discovered in the most commonplace objects in the most unremarkable of places.
Zinsmeister Parker received three degrees from Kent State University, culminating in an MFA in 1981. From 1978 2000, she was Adjunct Professor at The University of Akron. She has exhibited her work extensively, including solo exhibitions at the Massillon Museum of Art, Massillon, Ohio; Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art; The University of Akron; Cleveland State University; The Artist Archives of the Western Reserve, Cleveland, Ohio; and Kent State University, Stark Campus, among others. Her work is in the collections of The Akron Art Museum; The Canton Museum of Art; the Artist Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; and The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, and many corporate and private collections. In 1994, Parker was recognized by the Senate of the State of Ohio for Induction into the Hall of Fame for achievements and contributions to Art. In northeast Ohio, she is represented by the Bonfoey Gallery and Harris Stanton Gallery. www.pzparker.net
Outlaw Woman gouache on paper, 22 x 22”, 2016
Trust mixed media on Bristol, 22 x 18”, 2017
L E S L Y E D I S C O N T A R I A N
The intuitive explorations of Leslye Discont Arian come from a place that is fundamentally human and convey a kind of visual poetry that transcends verbal language. Her approach is classically Modernist and continues a deep, often expressionist, tradition. This impulse toward addressing inner realities has had an important impact on her life, which is often the case with artists.
T I M O T H Y C A L L A G H A N
Timothy Callaghan is an artist who specifically begins his process from observed sources, and does so with a purpose. Continuing—and reinvigorating— a tradition nearly as long as art itself, he works in a manner that assesses the world around us and creatively interprets it to create meaning in terms of our relationship to it. This ultimately speaks to who we are and what art can communicate in terms of emotion, thinking, and the apprehension of beauty; it can also serve as a vehicle for unbridled imagination. One unique and complex example is First Mate, in which he has created a kind of scene-within-a-scene that appears to simply come from a label on a can. It’s difficult to hold the maritime scene and the overall still life in focus simultaneously. The presence of a flag as a backdrop adds another layer of intrigue. The dappled marking on the plant, can, and background has an almost dizzying visual effect while also serving as a unifying compositional element. Equally fascinating is Shipbuilding—another brilliant example of the potential of representational painting when handled with great talent and far-reaching imagination.
The Library mixed media on canvas, 48 x 48”, 2016
Acrophobia mixed media on canvas, 69 x 64”, 2016
KSU Class of ‘88
Arian’s journey has taken her through many noteworthy stages. She was a student at Kent State University during the May 4, 1970 shootings by Ohio National Guardsmen, then moved on to The Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), where she studied under, among others, Ed Mieczkowski, a major figure in the history of northeast Ohio art. (She currently serves on the CIA alumni board.) After a career in the graphic art industry and non-profit development, she is now a community activist and arts advocate. Arian is on the gallery committee of HeightsArts (Cleveland Heights) and in 2016, she initiated a public art mural project with the City of Shaker Heights. In 2017, she co-founded the Shaker Community Gallery in Shaker Heights to support local artists and the economic revitalization of the Van Aken District. Also this year, she was instrumental in securing one of the nationally significant Donald Trump sculptures for HeightsArts. The sculpture was auctioned to benefit public art in Cleveland Heights.
Leslye Discont Arian received a BFA from The Cleveland Institute of Art. She has exhibited her work at the Cleveland Museum of Art; The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown; The Morgan Conservatory, Cleveland; ARTneo, with the Maria Neil Project, Cleveland; and Lakeland Community College, Kirtland, Ohio, among others. Her work is in the collections of Bialosky Architects, Equity Engineering Company and a number of private collections. Her next one woman show will open in September at Still Point Gallery in Little Italy, Cleveland. www.leslyearian.com
At an early age, I discovered a way to reduce confusion in my life. By creating art, I could release feelings of loss, anger, fear and desire, thus creating a sense of calmness. My creative process would open my heart, enabling me to miraculously deconstruct the chaos. I express vulnerability through mark making … I reference familiar forms (such as bones, vessels, body parts, houses), and lines and color blocks float then anchor on color fields. I feel gratitude when I achieve balance—allowing me complete freedom from the material world. Art is a spiritual place.
I derive my knowledge from sensation and perception. The use of symbols are representations of the internal and external world. My subject matter is taken from memories, as well as guided imagery.
Shipbuilding gouache on paper, 22 x 22”, 2016