Tag: canton arts district

“Out of the Back Room” Art Exhibit

“Out of the Back Room” Art ExhibitHave you ever wondered what lurks behind the door to an artist’s back room? If the “Out of the Back Room” art exhibit is any indication, there is tremendous depth and diversity of work hiding behind the scenes in local artists’ studios. For this unique exhibit, several local artists have dusted off and shared their favorite pieces of art that they have been keeping out of public view for one reason or another. The exhibit is filled with artworks that are both old and new, representing the best that Stark County has to offer.

“Out of the Back Room” opens January 5, 2023 in the BZTAT Studios gallery at Canton Creator Space during First Friday. The exhibit will remain showing through February 25, 2024. Filled with a variety of creative expressions, experiments, and treasured artworks not seen for a while, this show offers a unique opportunity for viewers to explore beyond what artists typically showcase in local galleries. Artists represented include: Christopher Triner, David Dingwell, Erika Katherine, Priscilla Roggenkamp, Sally Priscilla Lytle, Sarah Shumaker, Dave King, Tom Delamater, Iszy Rucker, Chris Wurst, and BZTAT.

BZTAT Studios, located in the new Canton Creator Space (720 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH), exhibits artwork by local artists, including wall art, sculpture, jewelry, wearable art and painted art gifts. Canton Creator Space is a brand new collaborative workplace and gallery for artists and creative entrepreneurs. Open to the public, Canton Creator Space allows visitors to experience a behind the scenes view of the dynamic world of local artists and enjoy a more personalized arts encounter beyond galleries and museums. The gallery will be open 10am-5pm on Mondays and 12-6pm Tuesday through Saturday through the duration of the exhibit.

Life is an Adventure!



“Abstract is Real” Art Exhibit

Abstract is real! - Art Exhibit at BZTAT Studios“Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead uses shapes, colors, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect.” Wassily Kandinsky

Many people use the terms Modern Art to refer to so-called “Abstract Art”, even though, truth be told, Wassily Kandinsky was creating and philosophizing about abstraction way back in 1896. Not so modern, when you think about it.

Even though abstract art has been around for well over a hundred years, and it has become standard fare in the contemporary cultural landscape, many people still do not understand it, and many consider it radical.

Abstract painting by artist BZTAT
Abstract painting that I painted in college

When I was in college 40 years ago, I explored abstract painting extensively. Following the inspiration of my painting professor at Marshall University, June Kilgore, I immersed myself in the idea of pure form, color, line, texture, pattern, composition and and process. I pondered the idea of “reality” versus imagination; real depiction of a subject versus pure form; intellect versus soul; and other deep notions that young intellectuals ponder. I was obsessed with showing that what most people think of as “real” was just the tip of the iceberg of true reality, which was something deep and mystical and always just out of reach, but still worth grasping for.

"Everything But The House" Painting by June Kilgore
“Everything But The House” Painting by June Kilgore

Forty years later, I am not nearly so restive about those ideas, but they have never left me. The things that I learned about color and the other visual elements back then still has great influence in my artwork. Although my work now typically depicts a subject of some sort, it rarely follows any tradition of realism. Color, texture and composition are as important to me as the depiction of a subject. My work still tends to be semi- abstract, with a continued emphasis on the visual elements as the primary objective.

Over the years, I have met many different artists who have explored abstraction in their work as well, in myriad ways. Each has their own purposes and each follows a different path of exploring ideas and form. 

Photograph by Aimee Lambes
Photograph by Aimee Lambes

This photograph by my friend Aimee Lambes is an image of a very “real” subject, yet the way that it is framed and shadowed puts as much emphasis on form as it does documentation of a natural phenomenon.

The photo is an image of an ice shelf from her recent trip to Antarctica. It is an amazing artwork that moves me to ponder the wonders of our world in distant places, and at the same time, feast my eyes on a work of art that is amazing in its abstract patterns, lines and textures.

The linear beauty, varied blue hues and diagonal movement make it both abstract and real.

Painting by Sally Priscilla Lytle
Painting by Sally Priscilla Lytle

My friend Sally Priscilla Lytle is a very prolific artist who frequently paints from life, meaning she focuses on a real subject as the catalyst of each work. As she paints, however, she surrenders to the movement, the color, the shape, the texture, etc., and the resulting artwork becomes an aesthetic expression full of life and the character of the moment.

In this painting of a bird, you feel the fluttering of the creature as it does what birds do. You see indications that make you think of bird, yet it is very abstract in the fluid, painterly brush strokes, and structured background. The color contrasts and gestural marks bring it to life, even though the image is far from a realistic documentation of a bird.

I recently have felt an urge to return to my earlier days of abstract painting. It won’t become my mainstay, at least that is not my intention at this point. But I thought it would be fun to explore some non-representational imagery. As I did this, I decided to put together an exhibit to include these new pieces with some works by fellow artists, to give visitors to my studio gallery a varied look at abstraction. The pieces that you see here by Aimee and Sally will be in the exhibit, as are works by Dave Kuntzman, Sarah Shumaker, Christopher Triner, David Dingwell, Stephen Tornero, Emily Vigil, and Chris Wurst. The“Abstract is Real” Art Exhibit will open on March 3, 2023 and will be on view until 5/2/23. There will be an opening reception on March 3 during Canton First Friday.

Some of the artworks in the “Abstract is Real” exhibit will be completely non-representational, and some will be abstracted representations of various subjects. They all promise to stretch the concepts of “abstract” vs. “real”. I think it will be a fun group of artworks to view as an ensemble. 

My new abstract pieces are not nearly as serious and searching as the paintings that I did in college 40 years ago. Instead, they are playful and whimsical. I guess that they reflect the changes I have gone through in my life. Unlike the way I was in my youth, I am less searching and more inclined to sit back and enjoy the experience of creation without pretension. 

I had fun making these paintings. I enjoyed the process of making marks and scribbles and adding color here and there. I may make more. Purely non-representational, they show impulsive scribbles, colorful dashes of paint and brightly patterned frames that become a part of the artwork.  

I welcome you to visit the gallery/studio at 209 6th St., NW in Canton, OH to see the show, and to see the other fun things we have going on. There is always a lot happening at BZTAT Studios!

Life is an Adventure!


There’s something fishy going on here…

Muskellunge Brewing Company Fish painting menuThe irony is not lost on me.

I am known most for my paintings of cats, so taking a turn and painting a series of fish paintings is a bit, well, ironic.

I suspect that my cats rather enjoy the paintings, however.

Why did I paint a series of fish paintings?

It all started a couple of years ago when my friend Frank asked me to design a logo for him for a brewery that he was, at that time, in the early stages of developing. I had made a drawing of his cat Musky, named after the Muskellunge fish, and he wanted the fish in that drawing to be part of the logo.

Cat drawing with Muskellunge Beer

Here is the logo:

Muskellunge Brewing company logo

After designing the logo, Frank asked me to create an art sign with the logo on it:

Frank is a scientific sort of guy. He came to brewing beer through the science of it. Working in the pharmaceutical industry for years, he developed a keen awareness of scientific methods and chemistry, and he began brewing beers in his basement. He decided to extend his basement hobby into a professional endeavor. Fascinated by various species of freshwater fish, he named each of his beers after a different fish.

In keeping with his fish theme, Frank commissioned me to paint a sign for each of his beers and the corresponding fish to serve as a menu board in the taproom of his brewery.

I enjoyed the creative challenge of painting actual species of fish in my semi-abstract contemporary folk art style. It was a challenge, simulating the textures and colors of fish using my bright colored palette, and also doing the lettering in my layered technique. (You can see the in process photos for each painting on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds.)

The brewery and artwork were recently featured in this article in the Akron Beacon Journal, where I talked about the creative process:

“I have a technique of laying the paint and that makes an interesting texture and that’s what these are,” BZTAT said. 

BZTAT is known for creating colorful pet portraits in pop art and contemporary folk styles. Freshwater fish presented a particular challenge. Freshwater fish aren’t exactly known for their bright colors, which the artists uses. Silver gray anyone?

BZTAT describes freshwater fish as “drab.”

“I am constantly challenging myself to make not just a portrait and not just a pretty picture for somebody but also something that could stand on its own as a valid artwork,” BZTAT said. “And the fish are kind of a new challenge for me which I’ve been enjoying. I’ve never really painted fish before.”

Not to say she and fish are strangers. She grew up in a household with fish tanks and exotic fish, and loved watching them.

“They are just interesting visually,” BZTAT said.

Muskellunge Brewing Company‘s taproom opened this past week to rave reviews (Follow Muskelluunge Brewing Company on Facebook and Instagram). The beer, and the fish painting/signs were a big hit! If you are in the Canton area, I hope you will stop in, sample some of the finest craft beer in Ohio, and see the artwork. The brewery is located at 425 5th St. NW Canton, OH 44702.

I would not recommend that you bring your cat, though…

Life is an Adventure!