Canton Museum of Art Opens Four New Spring/Summer Exhibits including “Drafting Dimensions: Contemporary Midwest Ceramics”

The Canton Museum of Art (CMA), one of Northeast Ohio’s premier American art museums, opens its strong, Midwest-influenced Spring/Summer exhibition season on Friday, May 3rd. Four original exhibitions include: Drafting Dimensions: Contemporary Midwest Ceramics, Between Worlds: John Jude Palencar, Organized Ambiguity: Gridworks of David Kuntzman, and Food for Thought: Celebrating Food in Art from the CMA’s Permanent Collection in Collaboration with “Project EAT!”. Regular Museum hours are: Tues – Thurs, 10am – 8pm; Fri – Sat, 10am – 5pm; Sun 1 – 5pm; closed Mondays. CMA offers FREE admission every Thursday, every week from 10:00am – 8:00pm, sponsored by PNC Foundation.

An Opening Reception celebrating the new exhibitions will be held on Friday (First Friday), May 3rd  from 5:00 – 8:00pm. Guests will enjoy FREE admission, FREE parking, hors d’oeuvres by Fishers Foods, live music by The Ohio Weather Band, and a cash bar, plus the opportunity to interact with several artists featured in the exhibitions. The reception is free and open to the public, no registration is required.

At the same time, the Canton Ceramic Artists Guild’s 28th annual May Sale will be held Friday (5/3) from 11:00am – 8:00pm and Saturday (5/4) from 10:00am – 2:00pm in the CMA’s Courtyard.  A portion of the sales will benefit the CMA’s Ceramic Education Program. Bowls from the “Empty Bowls Project” will also be for sale and all proceeds will benefit the Stark County Hunger Task Force.

“We are very excited to introduce four original exhibitions, each offering a different engagement and experience with their structure and themes,” said Max Barton, executive director of the Canton Museum of Art. “It is important to experience the working artists of today, such as in Drafting Dimensions, Between Worldsand Organized Ambiguity – and even some in our collection showcase, Food for Thought. It gives all of us a much better appreciation of and informed perspective on where our artistic movements come from and how they are evolving. This is a very special spring/summer line up of exhibitions, with something for everyone to explore, discover, and be inspired.”

These new exhibitions are on view from May 3rd, 2019 through July 21st, 2019. Visit or follow CMA on Facebook to learn more about programs and special events.  Exhibitions and programs are related through generous support in part from Arts In Stark, Visit Canton, The Hoover Foundation, J.M. Smucker Company, Stark Community Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, and KeyBank Foundation. FREE Thursdays, offering free admission to CMA, is sponsored by PNC Foundation. 

Featured Main Gallery Exhibitions

Drafting Dimensions: Contemporary Midwest Ceramics

Experience American ceramics in a bold new exhibition! Five acclaimed artists push the boundaries of clay sculpture with dramatic design, color, and form often inspired through painting, drawing, or printmaking. Drafting Dimensions lets you discover the creative process and the expression of ideas in vivid new fashion.

Guest curated by Anderson Turner, the artists chosen for inclusion in this exhibition not only use clay to express ideas, but also use other mediums as an important part of their studio practice. Often these artists integrate different types of materials with the clay forms they make, or they may use other types of traditional or non-traditional art practices to help express their ideas. This may, if the idea requires it, create a situation where they don’t use clay at all.

Certainly, all of the artists included here have a studio practice that has clay as a primary focus, yet for each it is not their sum total defining their work as artists. It is these pivot points where the artist pushes the boundaries of their material by seeing it through the lens of another medium that makes their work interesting –and it is this intersection that forms the focus of this show.

Malcolm Mobuto Smith’s Cloud Cups exist at an interesting intersection of the “plastic state” of thrown clay forms,” and “the transformation/translation of various two dimensional graphic conventions for representing clouds.” Smith creates graphically dynamic work that features movement and distortion that are not only inspired from the clouds in our atmosphere but also come “from the world of hip hop, specifically graffiti art.”

Future Retrieval is the studio collaboration of Guy Michael Davis and Katie Parker. They use a variety of materials and processes to create their work. From three-dimensional scanning and digital manufacturing to cut paper, their interdisciplinary approach to making is extremely current, while at the same time references the history of decorative arts and design.

John Balistreri is best known for his colossal ceramic sculpture creations. What is not as widely known is that he uses other artistic processes like painting, drawing, and printmaking as well. The clay forms are not a result of getting his two-dimensional thoughts down on a surface necessarily, but rather the ideas evolve and grow together. For example, one of the paintings included this exhibition is something the artist has worked on for several years.

Peter Christian Johnson sculptures begin as “quick, crude drawings in a traditional sketchbook,” which he then moves to a computer to draw a more detailed version. This process helps him figure out scale and dimensions and ultimately a method for construction. While this process mimics a more traditional building pattern – design/blueprint to final sculpture – Johnson adds another level of complexity by embracing the way in which his unique glazing and construction techniques interact with the firing process. This conscious choice to embrace chance or even entropy acts like another level of abstraction, similar to painting or drawing with clay, as gestural marks and movement are embraced and enhanced throughout the artist’s process.

Lesley Baker creates work that recalls the industrialized rich history of ceramics. Recognizable forms that have often been mass-produced are decorated with appropriated floral and animal imagery to “represent the past and the power of nature, and also as a device to entice the viewer.” Unlike traditional approaches however, the artist creates layers of texture and color through glaze and printing processes that are presented on structures that stand enough outside of their traditional use to force an engagement with the work on a more intimate and meaningful level.

Between Worlds: John Jude Palencar

John Jude Palencar is a rarity among modern artists, mixing meticulous technique reminiscent of the old masters with a soaring, darkly surreal imagination. There are touches of Bosch and Leonardo da Vinci in his visual allegories of netherworld landscapes and doomed characters.

For more than twenty-five years, he has created book covers and received honors for his contributions to the field of illustration including Gold and Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators, two Gold Book Awards from Spectrum, and four Chesley Awards from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA). Most recently John was presented the award for “Artistic Achievement” by ASFA at the World Fantasy Convention held in Yokohama, Japan. His work has appeared on hundreds of book covers in over thirty countries for authors such as H. P. Lovecraft, Ursula LeGuin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, P.D. James, Charles deLint, David Brin, and Stephen King. Recently, his cover paintings for “Eragon and Eldest,” by Christopher Paolini, have appeared on The New York Times Children’s Best Seller List. (Paolini named Eragon’s birthplace “Palancar Valley” after John.)

Time, Smithsonian, and National Geographic Magazines, and the Philadelphia Opera have employed his illustrative talents for their publications and productions. Palencar has also worked on entertainment projects for Lucas Arts, Paramount Pictures and Vivendi Universal. He enjoys an on-going artist-in-residence program in County Kerry, Ireland, where his personal paintings were included in a special exhibit entitled, “Images of Ireland” held at the National Museum in Dublin.

He continues to create new work and has exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions. Occasionally John is invited to lecture and serve as an artist-in-residence at colleges and universities across the country. He resides in northeastern Ohio with his wife, Lee, and two sons, Ian and Kit.

Between Worlds cont.


“I always wanted to create things that couldn’t be photographed and drawing was a kind

of therapy for dealing with my fear of the unknown and menacing images … Of course with

the special effects in today’s movies, digital artists have accomplished the realizations of

fantastical imagery in stunning fashion. However there is still something magical and

primordial about sitting in a quiet studio and painting these surreal and imaginary images.”

– John Jude Palencar

Organized Ambiguity: Gridworks of David Kuntzman

David Kuntzman has always been fascinated with grids. Growing up, many of his family members were very creative, and David was always drawing. His grandfather taught him that he could re-create a photograph with the timeless Grid Method. The grid method involves drawing a grid over your reference photo, and then drawing a grid of equal ratio onto your blank work surface (paper, canvas, etc). Once your grids are laid out, you draw the image onto your surface, focusing on one square at a time, until the entire image has been transferred. This is where David first encountered the grids that would come to influence his future work.

David originally entered the University of Mount Union as a math major, but changed his major after a required art history course opened his eyes to the contemporary art world – and classes in drawing, sculpture, and painting soon followed.

David’s first encounter with “Optical Art” (or “Op Art”) was of Victor Vasarely (Hungarian, 1906-1997), father of the Op Art movement. Upon additional investigation, he found that the Op movement was actually coined for a show by Julian Stanczak (American, 1928-2017), a Polish-born American painter and printmaker who moved to the United States in 1950 and settled in Cleveland. Op Art was the perfect combination of skills and interests – math and art – for David to explore and develop, and he quickly discovered other Op artists in Northeast Ohio.

David’s earliest paintings were investigations of the styles of Vasarely and Stanczak. At present, in addition to the Op artists, David’s influences include Frank Stella (American, b. 1936), specifically the “plane” paintings of the early to mid 1970s, and Lyubov Popova (Russian, 1889-1924) of the Constructivist movement. As such, his artworks have evolved into presentations of various grid comparisons, such as grids of different sizes, angles, and colors. The color progressions are now being used to present the contrasting gridworks, creating a dense and ambiguous space. The work is at once beautiful, striking, and mathematical.

Food for Thought: Celebrating Food in Art

The representation of food in American art is a reflection of our unique values and history. Consider the role that food plays in your own life. Think about the many people involved in getting a meal to your table and the memories tied to your favorite dish. Food, like art, is a constantly evolving way for us to tell our stories.

Food for Thought is a fun exhibit of works of art, most being from the CMA Permanent Collection, that portray various types of food. Artist Kristen Cliffel’s piece, for example, gives us realistic cupcakes made of clay with hidden meanings behind them. Ray Kleinlein and Lowell Tolstedt painted and drew hyper-realistic pieces – one of beer, one of cherries – that we can almost taste. William Brouillard’s lovingly created tables with handmade place settings, make us think of conversations at the dinner table with our family and friends.

Food for Thought explores food through objects, people, and places. These works examine what we eat, how we eat it, and who we dine with, creating an intimate look at the role food plays in American art and culture. Around 70 works of art by artists such as Salvador Dali, William Sommer, Clyde Singer, Ferdinand Brader, Thomas Hart Benton, Warren MacKenzie, Toshiko Takaezu, and more are displayed in this can’t-miss exhibit.

This exhibition is one part of a series of events for Project EAT!   Visit for more information.

About Canton Museum of Art

The Canton Museum of Art is one of Ohio’s premier museums for an exceptional visual arts experience, recognized for powerful original exhibitions and national touring exhibitions focused on American art. The Museum’s innovative education outreach programs, classes, and workshops serve thousands of students of all ages. CMA’s acclaimed collection focuses on American works on paper, primarily watercolors, and contemporary ceramics. Founded in 1935, the Canton Museum of Art makes the discovery and exploration of art accessible to all, with more than 42,000 visitors each year. Visit, follow the Museum on Facebook, or call 330.453.7666 for more information.

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