“Family Album: Our Stories,” Reflects on the Nostalgia of Family Moments, Matriarchs, Spaces and Neighborhoods
Featured Gallery Exhibitions
Family Album: Our Stories
In this CMA original exhibition, Family Album: Our Stories, Amy Pleasant reflects the nostalgia of family moments, matriarchs, spaces and neighborhoods. Amy Pleasant is a Seattle figurative painter, born and raised in Ohio. Her work examines the most common of experiences–family, life transitions and generational change. Amy’s early figurative paintings integrated shape and pattern and were rooted in vintage photographic images. More recent work incorporates less structured figures in the tradition of abstract expressionism, allowing the viewer freedom of interpretation. Her paintings provide a visual language, hinting at the complex navigation of human relationships. Embedded deeply in her practice and work as a visual artist is a belief that art in its most fundamental form is a personal expression and ultimately finds its rightful place through the engagement of the viewer.“Family is the most profound example of a universal primordial experience. It’s a mixed bag, for sure, a marker of time, that which grounds us or disables us in ways that can follow us the whole of our lives. Everything about family continually changes, but memories linger. A curiosity arose about these notions of memory and generational transition with the juxtaposition of simultaneously raising my own children and caring for my mother and my aunt through aging and illness.” – Amy Pleasant
Amy Pleasant has participated in national exhibitions in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York as well as solo exhibitions in Seattle and Amsterdam. In 2012 she was one of twelve artists featured nationally by the Woman’s Caucus for the Arts and was a recipient of the Artist Trust Gap grant in 2016. In 2019 she attended the Blue Mountain Center, NY Artist and Writers Social Activism Residency and was accepted into the 2021 Chateau d’Orquevaux International Residency, France (rescheduled for 2022).In addition to painting, Amy is a freelance writer and features reflecting the intersection of Art and Social Justice issues can be found at Huff Post and Bust Magazine.
Human/Nature: The Trompe L’oeil Constructions of Ron Isaacs
The masterful trompe l’oeil work of Ron Isaacs is as charming as it is technically brilliant. Using birch plywood, select cutouts, and beautifully painted details which fool the eye, Isaacs creates compositions that pique your curiosity. A sense of surprise and appreciation is experienced when discovering his talent.Trained as a painter, Isaacs’s work now stands halfway between painting and sculpture. Beginning in about 1970, the paintings transformed a step at a time from a flat, rectangular picture to become irregularly shaped elaborate relief constructions fabricated completely from Finnish birch plywood painted in matte acrylics.
“My three primary recurring subjects are vintage clothing; plant materials in the form of sticks, leaves, flowers; and found objects…these three subjects combine to provide apparently endless sources of composition and design, interacting in visually striking, poetic, and evocative ways.” – Ron Isaacs
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ron Isaacs now lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky.
Ron Isaacs is represented by Momentum Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina.
Legacy: Getting to Give, Giving to Get
Susan Mentrak is a ceramic artist and illustrator born and raised in Ohio. Susan graduated with a degree in Illustration from the Columbus College of Art and Design where she was greatly influenced by her instructors Lowell Tolstedt and Mark Hazlerig. Tolstedt taught her to pay attention to minutia and Hazlerig encouraged her to dream big and through art make the impossible possible. After adopting in 2003, she chose to devote much of her time to being a mom. However, her creative spirit never ceased.
She sewed clothes for her daughter and when she couldn’t find fabric designs she liked, she learned how to design her own. She also posted dolls online that she made for her daughter. These were discovered by several publishers of doll magazines and collectors all over the world, and she has contributed to several books and magazines featuring her dolls.
In 2013 she moved from Columbus to Canton, Ohio. Moving was difficult and finding friends as an adult proved difficult. For 4 years she primarily spoke only with her husband and daughter. During this time her husband was deployed to Afghanistan, furthering her isolation.
In 2017, as she was working on a new doll, she wondered whether the materials she was using were sustainable. She decided to pursue learning ceramics to create porcelain dolls. She saw an advertisement on Facebook for a ceramic class at the Canton Museum of Art and registered. She was very nervous meeting people and found it extremely difficult to communicate after 4 years of self-isolation. Through the nurturing ceramic community at the Museum, she fell in love with ceramics and thrived in exploring her new creative medium.
The Canton Ceramic Artists Guild took her under their wing, exposing her to the science of clay, as well as encouraging her to pursue her ambitions. She is a member of the Canton Ceramic Artists Guild and the Ceramic Studio Manager at the Massillon Museum of Art.
Legacy: Getting to Give, Giving to Get is her first solo exhibition.
An American Journey: Watercolor Achievements from the CMA Collection
Over the last several decades, the Canton Museum of Art has built a thorough and extensive collection of works by some of the most celebrated watercolor artists–fitting, as watercolor painting has been part of the artistic tradition within Ohio for centuries. In fact, in the 1920s, Cleveland, Ohio, surpassed Boston as the country’s leading center in watercolor painting. Ohio became a state filled with booming artistic colonies which produced thousands of paintings and cultivated generations of notorious watercolor painters such as Edward Potthast and Charles Burchfield. Outside of Ohio, with the rise in the popularity of watercolor painting in the United States following the creation of the American Watercolor Society, a new set of artists emerged as stars, including Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent.
An important subsection of watercolor painters, women had long been working in the medium before it was accepted as a professional art form, though their work was considered a “decorative hobby.” The American Watercolor Society had strict requirements for their membership, yet in a radical move allowed women to join. The Society wanted to attract high-quality members, but ironically many top painters hesitated to join, because women had been allowed membership. Though they encountered resistance, many women still managed to paint and pave the way for the success of future generations. Alice Schille and Jane Peterson, for example, excelled as some of the most well-known and accomplished women watercolor painters.
Watercolor is rooted in tradition and history in America and remains an important medium due to its never-ending ability to capture daily life in dazzling ways. An American Journey follows the path of watercolor history in the United States through our Museum’s Permanent Collection, featuring numerous important artists who helped to elevate and revolutionize the medium.
Exhibitions, Programming, and Operating Support
The Canton Museum of Art’s exhibitions, related programs, and operations are made possible in part through generous support from Arts In Stark, Visit Canton, Stark Community Foundation, The Hoover Foundation, The Paparella Family Foundation, the Canton Museum of Art Exhibition Endowment at Stark Community Foundation, and the Ohio Arts Council, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts and Institute of Museum and Library Services. CMA FREE Thursdays, offering free admission all day, is generously sponsored by PNC Foundation.
About Canton Museum of Art
Recognized for powerful original exhibitions and national touring exhibitions focused on American art and its influences, the Canton Museum of Art makes the discovery and exploration of art accessible to all. The Museum’s education outreach programs, School of Art 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. The CMA Shop (formerly known as the Artisan Boutique) is open during regular Museum hours. Founded in 1935, CMA serves more than 45,000 visitors each year. Visit cantonart.org and follow the Museum on Facebook for updates, or call 330.453.7666 for more information.
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