“Constructing Color” by Christin Hutchinson and Ian Magargee



Ian Magargee
Ian Magargee has an acute awareness of shape, spanning supports, color fields, and sculptural form.  As his work evolved throughout the past few years, he allowed his focus to shift to, “More interest in general kinds of movements that exist within specific bodies and their interactions.”

This becomes clear in lines and geometric forms across space and a plane.  Color animates the action through vibrant edges created through color compliments.

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“One summer day in 2007, between the first and second year of grad school, I allowed myself to depart from the set of rules I created for myself.  These were a set of (self-established) guidelines I could now deny to do in my work,” he said.  “I allowed my self to depart, to set them aside temporarily to make my art more fluid, intuitive.”  Natural instincts had found their own dynamic in work he could accomplish.

The final creative self was discovered in college woodshop constructing a piece. “I was positioning various components on a table, not happy with what I was seeing. I was ready to abandon it.  Finally, I let pieces fall wherever.”

“I stopped and looked where the pieces coincidentally landed and said, why not?  It broke me out of a gridlock way of working. It was incredibly refreshing.”

Ian came to his realizations as a question.  Is academe a process of internalizing incoming material, or a process of energizing latent possibilities, already within the psyche?  On a bad day it may feel like indoctrination.  On a good day, it’s like turning on an internal spotlight.  Maybe it’s both.  The good artists face this crisis.  They find themselves in the turmoil.  Ian found himself.

Christin Hutchinson

Christin’s theme has consistently been self-awareness and the female consciousness, while pursuing new directions.  A New York residency created a change toward work that is more interactive with the viewer.  She calls her new form, “structural paintings.”

She says her work is, “Relaxed personality is revealed in the delicate feel of soft textural marks.  Patience is something that is necessary when painting the way I do, whether it is realistic or more abstracted.  I am a very fast painter, but it still takes a patient personality to achieve what I want for the finished product.”  Many moments of experimentation lead her to new work.

She says, “I find beauty in breaking down the face into abstractions. It is interesting to me that it may not be identifiable as a face anymore or the face can look so different when sectioned and distorted. I look for the personal therapy of distorting my looks.” She hopes this leads viewers see faces differently on a daily basis. Seeing a face in her abstracted, sectioned and distorted faces can be a challenge to the viewer.  Christin likes the viewer game of, “Can you find the face?” “Oh, I see it!”

She further explained, “It is important for me to understand how people see these images through the manipulated color and structure and what the reaction would be.  Sometimes I can have tunnel vision when looking at my own work and I do not see what other people may see in it.  So, I need to hear the reactions to ground myself and make sure that I am getting the right message across.  It can be surprising to hear the comments sometimes.”

Christin is committed to a lifetime career in using her talents in art, within her passion for teaching and being an active artist. She is engulfed in her creative process. She explains, “When I am creating, I drift off into another place.  I have most of my ideas when I am alone and have time to sit and think.  I do a lot of thinking as a part of my process, especially about spaces.  I get inspiration from spaces.  I am very inspired by trying to fill the void of a particular space.  I look at bare walls and corners and try to think of how I can make it come alive with a painting.”

Curator’s Thoughts
Curator Aimee Sones has known both artists for some time, and thinks this exhibit is a great opportunity for the artist’s common interests in color and construction to come together.  Their familiarity with color and distinct use of gentle curves and hard geometric shapes will make for a dynamic show.  Their work complements each other as the artists go back and forth with color and form in the space between their works.  “It’s like a conversation between the pieces in the gallery,” Aimee says.

Amandda Tirey Graham’s “Liquidscapes” on view at Port Columbus

Photograph by Tom Hubbard

By: Tom Hubbard

Amandda Graham is the Ohio Art League artist now exhibiting at the Port Columbus Gateway to the Arts, a collaboration between the Airport Authority and OAL.  The exhibit is on the ticketing level, near Cup O Joe and Max and Irma’s. This is her story.

It was a moment of affirmation.  Amandda Graham’s dad was standing in front of “Midnight Zen,” one of her MFA exhibition paintings.  Amandda was thrilled.  “He absolutely loved it.  He was finally good with me dumping music for art,” she said.

Amandda attended music magnet schools in junior and high school.  She started at Ohio State on a music scholarship.  She dabbled in art before falling in love with the work of Pheoris West an Ohio State art professor. “I switched and never looked back,” she said.  She even turned down an offer from the US Marine Corp President’s Band.  “My parents questioned the change from music scholarship to art with no scholarship.  Painting took me by surprise,” Amandda said.

Dad and Amandda were thrilled at that MFA exhibit.  Dad’s a painter but he kept asking her, “How did you do this?”  The “Midnight Zen” painting now hangs in dad’s living room.  It’s lead to a lifetime of sharing art, with each trying techniques and sharing with the other.

“Midnight Zen” is visually tall and thin.  It is dark like stone smoke creeping up. Amandda says, “It’s a back porch, smoking a cigar, ambiguous, diseased lungs, has to do with smoking.  I want to make beautiful the ugly, thinking about disease, germs in a bathtub.”

Her dad does representational science fiction art while Amandda does the abstract paintings now on display at the OAL Port Columbus exhibit.  She says, “We have different styles, but both use vivid colors and have lots of motion.”

Amandda now has a bachelor of fine arts and a 2002 masters in painting and drawing from Ohio State.  She was surprised to be awarded the Edith Fergus Gilmore award in her first year a graduate school.  It included a $1,000 scholarship to buy materials.

There have been challenges.  She suffered an art dry spell for four years because of personal setbacks.  She was divorced, lost her painting studio and lost two close family members.  She now has Jeff, her supportive husband, a studio in her German Village home, and two dogs.  Jeff coated their basement with epoxy to keep out moisture.  The light fixtures are daylight.  “I’ve been painting like mad for two years,” she said.

“The studio is therapeutic, I listen to classical music.  I was a classical clarinetist.  I’m grateful for family.  It keeps me healthy and happy.”

She has a fulltime job and may work on her art from 7 P.M. to 3 A.M.  “I painted a big blue wall in front of me at my office. I hang reproductions of my art,” she said.

“With my art, I’m saying to the viewer that color is therapy, it’s what paintings will do for someone.  “I’m doing a larger view, I’m magnifying what the eye cannot see. It’s a happy energy of, what could that be?  I see things in paintings to stimulate viewing.  My themes are biomorphic, liquid-scapes, the fluid in the body magnified beyond what the eye can see.” she said.

She has joined Creative Arts of Women (CAW).  She will be doing a show at the Main Library’s Carnegie Gallery.  Each artist will be doing a self-portrait for a January 13 to February 19 exhibit.  The opening reception is at the Main Library, January 14, 5 P.M.  to 7 P.M.

“I will use vivid colors of my style applied to an abstract picture of my face,” she said. The self-portrait began with a distorted image from an old cell phone.  “The colors went funky. You can’t get those colors in Photoshop.  Who knows where that will go.  It’s me radiating the colors of my aura.  The old cell phone image looks like a heat sensitive image.  It’s dyslexic, ambidextrous switch, using both sides of my mind.”

Amandda just received another honor, a fellowship from the Ohio State University Arts Initiative for Emerging Artists.

“Remote Sensing” by Nicole Gibbs



By Tom Hubbard

Curator Susan Li O’Connor met January exhibiting artist Nicole Gibbs when both were working on their 2009 MFA in sculpture at Ohio State.

“Nicole’s work interested me because she works in mixed media, collage with a variety of materials from newsprint to salvage from walks, manmade remnants, all types of material.”

“Her work is a rich layering of information.  It reads as abstract, but the more you look at it, you realize the work is about process, finding material and thoughtfully putting them together.”

Nicole Gibbs didn’t know she was composing a painting in her mind 17 years ago when she visited her mother at work reviewing satellite images of the burning oil fields in Kuwait during the first Iraq war.  She realized how devastating the damage was; it covered wide areas of the earth as seen from a satellite.

Nicole didn’t think of the oil field images again until she began working on her Ohio Art League member curated art show which you can see during its January exhibit, opening January 2, 2010.

She looked up the images on the Internet.  It was a surprising moment, her drawing “Boundary” is almost a verbatim rendering of an image seen once, a long time ago.  Her artist statement explains, “The pluming black ink, the shape of the newsprint, the red-orange accents, the dark blue pigment, even the four yellow markers are uncannily similar to the aerial images that I saw 17 years ago.”

In college, it took a lot of creative confidence to switch majors from biology to art, even before taking one art course.  She covered her bases with a dual major in art and art history.

Nicole followed the art history major for nine years at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Portland Oregon museums.

Nicole said, “When I got out of college, I didn’t have the faintest idea of how to approach a gallery.  I used my art history major in museums.  The Minneapolis museum was actively collecting ceramics.  It was an amazing experience.  I was helping build a collection, right out of college.  I learned how ceramic artists promoted themselves and how they got work into the hands of curators.  I realized that ceramic art involves more collaboration than painting.  So, I started my art as a ceramic artist.”

Nicole’s 2009 MFA from Ohio State is in sculpture, which she uses in non-traditional ways. “I think my approach is experimental, usually I have a selection of materials to work with.  I use newsprint which is very absorbent, with clay slip, which may include fabric dye.  The slip deposits the dye into the paper, as it dries, the clay pops off.  I sew little pockets for the crumbling clay.”

Nicole wrote her MFA Thesis on her graduate work, which is included in the Ohio Art League exhibition.  “Grad school is an intensive feedback environment.  For me, honest is to tell the truth with compassion.  Feedback is tricky, all have different motives.  Some feedback has really opened up things to me,” she said.

Much of the work is meant to be seen from both sides.  “We have to figure out how to hang them in the OAL gallery,” she said.  Nicole will be moving fast.  The show will be hung December 30 with a January 2 opening.

Nicole will be back in Olympia Washington January 4 for her first winter class as a visiting faculty teaching art at Evergreen State College.  She started in the fall and will be there through mid-March.  Her class is exciting.  She said, “It’s in a non-traditional college.  Students take one full-time class at a time.  We will be covering photography, stone carving, casting, field trips.”

She wants her art to say to the viewer that it is about a difficult personal relationship.  She is looking for a cool, removed, perspective, almost clinical, scientific.  In an interesting twist, she uses abstraction to achieve objectivity.

She now realizes that those curatorial years in Minneapolis and Portland were rewarding but something was missing.  She said, “I’m not a full person if I’m not making art.  I’m not my full range of colors if I’m not making art.  It’s central to my being.  It’s how I experience the world.  It helps me sort out the world.”

By Tom Hubbard