Monday, November 29, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Michele Walkes ARTS studio: from a different perspective

Here is another angle of our new studio space!! My artwork is the fiber and mixed media work which utilizes my own photography. The oil paintings are Lynn Digby's, my studio mate. If you are local, come check it out! The address is 2nd April galerie 324 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton, OH 44702.

Michele Waalkes ARTS Studio has Moved to the Main Floor of 2nd April galerie!

My studio-mate, Lynn Digby, and I recently moved our shared studio space to the main floor of 2nd April galerie. It is a great new space and I am very excited to be in it. Many thanks to Lynn and Paul Digby who did so much of the work to transform the space while I recovered from back surgery.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Microbiology C-

Microbiology C- is a piece I created out of fabric that I had batiked (a fabric dying process using wax as a resist). It is a fun piece that I made by playing around with using spheres. In the end, it reminds me of the whirlwind microbiology class I took years ago during an intensive summer class, in which I didn't do so well, thus the C-!

Size: (h x w) 57" x 25"
Media: Hand dyed, batiked cotton fabric

Monday, April 26, 2010

Michele Waalkes ARTS Studio

I am very pleased to announce that I am now sharing the mezzanine studio space at 2nd April galerie Studios & Annex with oil painter Lynn Digby. Please come down and check it out on a First Friday or at our upcoming 2nd Floor at 2nd April Open House this coming Friday, April 30 from 5-9pm. The open house will include delicious snacks at each of the studios and a chance to chat with the artists while strolling through and enjoying awesome artwork! Hope you can come!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Stations of the Cross

Stream of Consciousness

Stream of Consciousness was created as part of an exhibit intended to visually portray each of the stations of the cross. This exhibit is at Anderson Creative and will be set up as a meditative space during Holy Week. The Canton Repository recently highlighted the exhibit that opens Tuesday, March 30.

I created a piece inspired by station #5: Jesus is Judged By Pilate. It attempts to reflect the disconnect between Pilate’s conflicted thoughts and his cowardly actions. Pilate acknowledges Jesus’ innocence, yet, in the end, his desire to please the crowd wins out. To portray this disconnect, fragments of Pilate’s words and thoughts are incorporated into a stream representing his futile attempt to absolve himself of guilt with his public hand washing. It is created with phototransfers of my photography onto sheer and opaque fabric.

Size: (h x w) 21" x 17"
Media: Fibers

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My contribution to the 28 Variations Show at Anderson Creative

This was such a fun experience! Please see previous post for a summary of the show's concept. Basically, I could see only 6" of the piece before mine, it had red painted circles with graphite circles around them (You can see it if you look at the photo from the previous post). I needed to created a piece that somehow tied in with it. I chose to go with this image of a wrought iron fence because I felt like the circle within a circle echoed the image in the piece created before mine. I also like how it conceptually created a boundary, just as the graphite circle did in the painting before mine.

I had a great time creating this piece. It is 3 feet x 3 feet and is created with a phototransfers of one of my photos with conte crayon, pastel, and graphite.


28 Variations

The 28 Variations exhibit at Anderson Creative was a dynamic show! In the meantime, check out Tom Wachunas' review! My piece is on the bottom row, 5th from the right.

Who’s Your Dada?
By Tom Wachunas
Switzerland in 1915 – Zurich, to be exact - was far from detached or neutral when it came to positioning itself for making war on the world. In the wake of the most devastating war Europe – indeed the world – had ever experienced, Zurich had become home to an increasingly vocal enclave of dissident citizens bent on usurping not governments as such, but entire systems of thought. Artists, Communists, poets, and philosophers, among others, locked arms, as it were, to embrace “anti-art,” their perceived vehicle for destroying, once and for all, the societal traditions and ideals that they blamed for World War I. Ironically, in their disdain for intellectualism and conventional social values, they promoted yet another kind of intellectualism and value system - one that formulated elaborate, albeit nonsensical manifestos promulgating cultural anarchy. This, then, was all-out war on art and art-making as it had been formerly known, shown, and practiced.
The movement acquired the name ‘Dada’, a term that artist and movement ‘historian’ Hans Arp once said, “…means nothing, aims to mean nothing, and was adapted precisely because it means nothing.” So there you have it: a movement destined if not designed to collapse under the weight of its own vapidity. Or…?
Before summarily dismissing Dada as an historic fluke, blip, glitch, or an ill-fated, arrogant attempt to destroy conventional art values, consider the art developments of, say, the entire 20th century. More specifically, Modernism and its cantankerous child, Post-Modernism (where we are, arguably, now). So what’s next – Post-Postism? Contemporeactionism? And considering what we now so readily accept as art, who really cares? The point is that Dada and the ‘styles’ it spawned forever changed the face of art. The ‘freedoms’ it unleashed, like it or not, have long since re-drawn how we define, practice, look at, and value art.
So now along comes the unveiling of “The 28 Variations Project” at Anderson Creative in downtown Canton. The statement released by curators Craig Joseph and Kevin Anderson tells us that the show was inspired by Dadaists. Some of those endearing revolutionaries of yore engaged in communal art-making processes that were intentionally random, chaotic, free-for-all soirees to make “non-art’’ works which they claimed to be every bit as legitimate as anything in the Louvre. Art by attitude. Or, depending upon your predisposition to such a “philosophy”, art by mad-itude.
And so it is with some trepidation that I went to the March 5 unveiling. Knowing in advance that each of the 28 masonite panels (each measuring 3’x3’) was an individual work generated by the artist’s reaction to seeing only an exposed six-inch swath of the previous work by another artist in the sequence, I was fully expecting to see an indulgent foray into sheer, ugly nonsense. In fact I was sure that I would be writing a review of so much garbage. I’m elated to report otherwise.
Whether viewed as a single work comprised of 28 related parts, or 28 individual pieces sharing formal and/or thematic content, this is an astonishing, spectacular exhibit. For as much as there is to look at here, this is a show that requires seeing in the sense of “reading” its connective elements. The time spent, I assure you, will yield some delightful surprises.
Start, then, with the first work in the sequence at the far top left – Craig Joseph’s assemblage - a delightful parody of a family keeping up appearances, rendered in a style reminiscent of Monty Python animations. Then “read” to your right, into Kevin Anderson’s hilarious ad for an electric cheese-scent air freshener. Notice how the right edge of the first piece cues into the left edge of the next, and so forth through all 28 panels (reversing the edge-to-edge cueing for the bottom row). Through color, or shape, or texture – or combinations thereof - it’s the peripheral visual elements of each work that give rise to its larger internal content, which in turn inspires the adjacent work. So in a very real way, this show brings a refreshing application of that pesky, overworked term “edgy.” Additionally, the whole process generated some uncanny, unplanned “accidents” of recurring visual elements, as if some of the artists were psychically connected. For example, deep in the picture sequence, the word “fa├žade” is an important element in Vicki Boatright’s explosive and densely textured assemblage, which is the same word we see as intrinsic to Craig Joseph’s work at the very beginning of the sequence.
Also refreshing is the evidence here that each artist clearly took this project to heart and set out to make a “serious” work of art (some, of course, more interesting than others) that can stand on its own, independent of its place in this grouping. In so doing, some participants just as clearly ventured outside their established styles to render works that are nonetheless engaging. It’s exciting to see Erin Mulligan experiment with color and physical texture, or to see Lynn Digby get loose with abstract figuration. And who knew that Brennis Booth (co-owner of Second April Gallerie) was so capable of such remarkable painterly lyricism?
This show convinces me that as a bold, visionary establishment for showcasing truly noteworthy local artists, Anderson Creative has set the bar high, and has arrived. Further, piece-for-piece, and for sheer contemporary brawn and brains, this is by far the most compelling group show of Canton-area artists I’ve seen in all the 18 years I’ve been reviewing them.
Dada is dead. Long live Anderson Creative.
The 28 Variations Project, on view through March 27 at Anderson Creative, 331Cleveland Avenue NW, Canton. Viewing hours: 12 noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Trepidation is captured with a foreboding angle of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris with its wrought iron fence and looming height. The title came to me immediately when I started working with this image that I had taken in France a few years ago. It illuminated a feeling of unease and intimidation. To further reinforce this feeling, I overlayed a photo of trees I had taken in Michigan. Not only do I love the beauty and metaphoric imagery of trees in my own work, they also have great religious symbolism, representing the Tree of Life, central to Adam & Eve's 'Fall,' and as a symbol foreshadowing Christ's crucifixion. For this reason I placed a tree in the entryway to echo its importance and centrality.

This piece was part of 2nd April galerie's Fibernation show and was also exhibited at the Fiber577 invitational show and the Angelwood Gallery.

Size: (h x w) 14" x 11"
Media: Fibers


Speculation was created with an image I took of Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan while on a walk to the beach in the winter. I overlayed a photo of steps leading up from the beach, taken during the summer. I liked the juxtaposition of two different seasons and viewpoints, seeing across the lake and not being able to visualize the destination at the end of the steps.

This piece is was on exhibit at 2nd April galerie in Canton, OH as part of the Fibernation exhibit.

Size: (h x w) 12" x 12"
Media: Fibers

Elements of Time

Elements of Time: Water, Fire, Air, & Earth is a series that I created a couple of years ago when I was playing more with surface design on fibers. My goal was to have the pieces work together to visualize balance in a cumulative way with the parameter of using the elements. The composition of the hourglass is quite angled in the first (Water). In each successive piece, the hourglass slowly becomes more balanced-though never completely.

These pieces were recently included in the Fibernation exhibit at 2nd April galerie.

Size: (h x w) 14" x 11
Media: Fibers

Water: SOLD
Fire: SOLD
Earth: SOLD


Fibernation is a fibers exhibit that I recently guest curated at 2nd April galerie. It has a diverse sampling of eleven Northeast Ohio fiber artists. The work is nontraditional and intriguing, pushing the fibers media in different ways. Buzzbin Magazine wrote a nice article about the exhibition. Check out the article...and check out the exhibition At 2nd April galerie until March 6!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stark County Artists Exhibit

It was quite an honor, and surprise, to have received Best in Show for The Unknown at the annual juried show at Massillon Museum last night. It was a very interesting and diverse show. The Canton Repository announced the awards in the paper on January 19.

For additional information on the piece, see my post entitled "The Unknown" from September 2, 2009.

Blind Date Show at Anderson Creative

If you haven't seen the Blind Date exhibit at Anderson Creative there is a round table discussion with many of the writers and artists at the gallery on Thursday, January 21 at 7pm.
There is a nice overview of the exhibit in the Canton Repository

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Review of the "Blind Date" show. Three of my works are included.

Arranged Marriages

By Tom Wachunas

“Blind Date: The Romance of Word and Image,” is the name of a bold and fascinating exhibition now on view at Anderson Creative Studio in downtown Canton. First, let me tell you why I think it’s bold.

For as long as I’ve been writing about art (nearly 25 years), I’ve been an avid observer of how people in general look at art in a gallery or museum setting. I don’t mean ‘look at art’ in the sense of how people feel, think, or theorize about it. I mean how they are physically with art in real time and space – their posture, their eye movements, and the amount of actual time they spend in its immediate proximity. Over the years I’ve noticed that too many (I’m ever-closer to amending that to MOST) people treat the experience with a hurried nonchalance, absentmindedly breezing through exhibits with the vague hope, perhaps, that something will “catch their eye.” They simply look too fast. While I’m sure there are those who will disagree, I’m nonetheless convinced that we live in a society that discourages thinking too long or hard about what, exactly, we’re seeing. Truly dedicated art viewers seem to be a minority among us, if not a dying breed.

What makes this exhibit bold, then, is its unabashedly clear demand on our time. For here, to wholly internalize what is before us, we must not only look at the visual content, but read the accompanying text in full if we are to assess a connection between the two. In a way, we as viewers are witnesses to a performance, or marriage of sorts, between visual artists and writers.

The broker of this clever union is performance artist and writer –and here, curator- Craig Joseph. He paired 15 visual artists with 15 writers (a combination of individuals from Canton, Chicago and Minneapolis). The visual artists made works given to the writers to inspire literary works in a variety of genres, and in turn the writers provided material on which the artists based their visual pieces in a wide variety of media.

What’s most interesting here is that while each work in the show is necessarily an integrated presentation of object or image with a text, both the literary works and the visual works (with only a few weak exceptions) function as engaging, stand-alone pieces in their own right. Call it an exercise in simultaneous autonomy and symbiosis. In the end, this is a refreshingly successful collaborative project of remarkable substance.

Also interesting is how the writers’ chosen genres link up so effectively and appropriately with the visual artists’ chosen mediums. Clearly, the magic of artistic intuition is at work here. “Nativity,” a deeply moving poem by Carter Smith, for example, enhances the intensely personal, even mysterious quality of Joseph Close’s haunting “The Avatar and the Nash Equilibrium.” A similar chemistry is at work in the relationship between Michele Waalkes’ shimmering fiber piece, “The Verge,” depicting a church-like interior, and the reflective musings in the poem, “Shadows,” by Kris Lindquist.

One particularly good example of committing ample time to appreciate the depth of a work can be found in the collaboration between painter Marci Axelband and writer Judith Christy. Christy’s “Bad Connection” might be the longest written work in the show, but reading it all the way through yields a satisfying sense of real connection. Her narrative reads like a captivating scene from a noir film or play, telling the story of a phone conversation between a husband and wife discussing their impending divorce. Axelband’s abstract “Boxes” is captivating, too, and could be a crowded cityscape, or perhaps an elaborate phone doodle on a grand scale, depicting stylized ‘figures’ and ‘ghosts’ locked together in claustrophobic tension.

I found myself increasingly absorbed in reading each line of the story, my eyes darting back and forth between text and painting, looking for, and ultimately getting the gist of the works to my delight. This process is necessarily repeated in viewing each collaboration in this show and, as in the Christy-Axelband work, generally delivers an edifying result.

It is indeed a process that understandably asks us to go against the grain of our normally attention-fatigued, brain-numbing routines and be more intentional with our time. And in some ways, this exhibit challenges us to be willing to be enchanted. Think of it as both taking the time to savor a marvelous art show as well as giving time to these artists and writers who have surely earned it.

Photo: Installation view of text for “Bad Connection” by Judith Christy, and “Boxes,” pastel, acrylic, and water-based oil by Marci Axelband. One of 30 collaborative works on view in “Blind Date: The Romance of Word and Image,” at Anderson Creative Studio, 331 Cleveland Avenue NW, through January 31. Gallery hours: Noon to 5p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.