Defining an “emerging artist” is no simple task, especially in a town where new talent appears frequently on the creative landscape. Toledo is a great town for developing artists, with boundless opportunities for growth and to exhibit work. Not unlike other mid sized cities, there are also few chances for local artists to enter the larger commercial art market. In response 20 North Gallery hosts ARToledo, an emerging artist exhibition.
20 North last hosted an emerging artist exhibition in 2011 and gallery director Condessa Croninger remembers other shows in the past. This year, Croninger and gallery owner, Eric Hillenbrand, will present their sixth show for emerging artists: 2018 ARToledo: Chrysalis.
A conceptual triptych
Chrysalis will feature three local artists: Samantha Bell-Koch and Kerry Kirkpatrick, both recent graduates, and Martha Evans, who graduated from the University of Toledo three decades ago. Despite differences in style and technique, the three female artists share similar concepts.
“All of their work contains interlocking narratives of life, mortality and our relationship to the natural world,” explained Croninger. “Their common pursuit of commercial representation in ARToledo, marking a transition in their careers—paired with their combined themes of nature and rebirth— inspired me to subtitle this exhibit, ‘Chrysalis.’”
“The theme that struck me was that of cycles of life and nature, an ephemeral feeling of transition from one phase of being to the next” remarked exhibit juror Maralee Hope, a former 20 North Gallery intern who currently works at Christie’s Auction House in New York City.
For Bell-Koch, whose background in game design props up her wood panel painting technique, reflects her faith in God, the primary driver of her exploration of the universe as an organized system: “To create a work is to transfer your soul into a form that others can see,” explained Bell-Koch. “Art, like life, is not simple, but messy, uncertain, and is sometimes a struggle. But when you push through to the end, beauty can appear out of the ashes.”
Finding beauty is also a theme for Martha Evans, whose light-filled, plein air paintings illustrate her fascination with the world as inspiration: “There is no lack of subject matter to make a painting. That is everywhere. It is when the looking becomes seeing that the idea for the painting emerges,” said Evans. “I do not paint subjects. I paint what is beyond the eye to do what any artist hopes to do; share that bit of humanity we call beauty.”
Digital painter Kerry Kirkpatrick focuses her interest on visual storytelling, explaining: “I challenge the viewer to examine each element in my digital images so that the story can take form. I have the firm belief that stories play key roles in our lives for teaching empathy and compassion. Whether [my] paintings portray a small story of daily life or an extraordinary adventure, they serve as a portal into memories and dreams.”
Though the paintings work in conversation with each other, each artist expresses a unique voice, which Hope noticed when reviewing submissions for the exhibit, saying: “I loved searching for and finding the cohesive story between each artist in this year’s show, how their paintings work together and how they stand out on their own, each telling a story within the bigger story [in the exhibit].”
See the artists emerge during the opening reception from
6-9pm on Friday, July 13. On view through September 29.
18 N. St. Clair St. | 419-241-2400 | 20northgallery.com
Noon-4pm, Wednesday-Saturday, or by appointment.