Erie Art Museum's Spotlight on Edinboro Artists

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 at 10:46 PM
Erie Art Museum's Spotlight on Edinboro Artists by Anna Ashcraft
The gallery is open at the museum through March 26. For more images from ‘Assembled Visions,’ visit Edinboronow.com.

Art. An innovative and ever-changing field. People look to art for different reasons, may it be inspiration, tranquility, thought provocation.

Edinboro University’s own art professors have collaborated for a showcase, titled “Assembled Visions,” at the Erie Art Museum in the newly renovated main wing. On display now through March 26, visitors can see works by Shelle Barron, Geoffrey Beadle, Terry McKelvey and Fred Scruton.

In Erie, the first Friday of every month is known as “gallery night.”

“The Erie Art Museum participates in that on a regular basis, along with some of the established galleries around downtown Erie and throughout the city,” McKelvey said.

“[And] occasionally, there are some other venues or pop-up galleries that have something going on.”

Gallery night, the one held Dec. 4, broke a record for the museum. Around 900 people attended the “Assembled Visions” night.

“I am so happy that my colleagues are with me in this show. It is the very first time that regional artists have been invited to a show at the Art Museum, in the main gallery, so we are very humbled and proud to be in the gallery,” Barron said.

“We had a huge crowd. I didn’t know that they had broken a record at the time, but I do know that it was more packed full of people than what I was anticipating,” McKelvey said.

“It was nice to see that many people come out, especially students. A lot of current and former students made the trip up to Erie to see the works, so that was very gratifying.”

Barron’s work is primarily multimedia designs on large-scale canvas, where she designs and prints her own digital imagery onto the canvas and layers it by hand.

She explained how she creates multiple layers and a mixture of drawings and digital collages, then, finishes her work with an acrylic varnish.

Her work “The forest for the trees,” featuring clowns on an abstract-looking collage, has a lot going on, with the use of multiple images layered on each other. The pencil drawings evident in one area and scattered images throughout the piece give it a look entirely its own.

“I go in and try to build a narrative; it’s usually about something, but it’s a little obscure to the viewer. As I build that, I end up with a collage that I then scan and enlarge; then I paste it on the actual canvas. From there, I work on top of it with paint. More collage. Sometimes pencil until it’s done,” Barron said.

In “Help! I’m the Bombardier, I’m the Bombardier,” viewers can really get a feel for the abstractness of this piece. There are multiple images that are indecipherable as they collide with other images. A gloved hand sticks out of the side and splotches of colored designs along the bottom make for a visually dynamic piece.

“If you see the show, you will see that these little parts show up in other pieces, like a bell. You’ll see, like in three of them, there’s a bell, and I look at that as the bell of awareness, waking up, pay attention to this, for whom the bell tolls, you know, the bell. I didn’t realize it until I saw them all together,” Barron said.

“So there’s not one. What I’m not done saying in one, it just goes into the next one, and then, I say something else; it adds on. Just like the layers of collage on the canvas, each piece is another layer to a bigger story.”

Beadle’s work is focused on profiles of people, family and scenes of emotion and intimacy. His work, “Thirty-six weeks,” is a charcoal and pastel drawing, depicting the beauty of a pregnant woman in her last trimester. His use of shadow and layers in a two-dimensional forum is exquisite and powerful, giving an emotional aspect to a profile.

McKelvey’s paintings are all “representational” oil paintings, painted “from direct observation of subjects.” His work is primarily narratives, focused on the form of “color, space and light,” McKelvey said.

“There are some images that are a mix of observation and memory, and there are a couple images where I started out by making drawings and then developed paintings from the drawings. Those are typically the ones with the figures that are more narrative,” McKelvey said.

The use of space and light is evident in his works, which mostly depict scenes, such as “Elegy,” which shows a man standing over a shovel, digging a large hole big enough for a person and a woman standing watching from inside the screen door. The piece is colorful, full of life and provokes thought.

Scruton is a photographer who travels all over the country looking for his next photo.

“I think of it as contemporary, documentary photography…,” Scruton said.

“In general, beyond photography, I have an interest in ‘Outsider Art,’ artists who have not received art school training, and have often started making art completely on their own, with very little outside influence or knowledge,” Scruton said.

Scruton’s photographs are colorful and visually appealing. He mentioned most of his photos are of “Outsider Art” sights. “Minefield,” one of his photos, is of a labyrinth of pipes and steel that “Outsider Artists” have made.

“I was interested to see it, and I had gotten to know Billy, the creator of it, because I go back every two years. I’ve got a little routine where we’ve gotten to know each other, and I intend to keep doing that every two years for an indefinite amount of time, because he will basically keep working on it and changing it until he is no longer able to work. I see this as a long-term collaboration where I am documenting it in progress,” Scruton said.

Another photo that stood out was “House of Prophet Isaiah Robertson, Niagara NY, 2014” which is an extremely colorful, interesting house.

“I went over there and the first time I went the prophet wasn’t there. But I took some pictures and left my card. He called me and said he was interested in my taking pictures and that was about 5 years ago,” Scuton said.

Since then, Scuton has been back more than 30 times.

“I have gotten to be very good friends with him; he calls me periodically [and] he calls me to let me know he’s made changes that I have to go photograph,” Scruton said.

“Assembled Visions” is in the main gallery at the Erie Art Museum on State Street in Erie. It is showing now to March 26, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Admission is free for members and every Wednesday and second Sunday.

Anna Ashcraft is the Managing Editor of Features for The Spectator.

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