One of the things the arts can do in a community is help to lead revitalization. Often this happens in unexpected spots or in parts of a city that people had long thought were beyond hope. The arts are able to find affordable locations and then often transform the properties into more viable and better-looking spaces.

A new art gallery just opened in Akron on Dec. 1, Project Three Gallery on Kenmore Boulevard, the creation of Kai Wick of Wick Studio. Its first exhibit showcases work created by Akron Soul Train's October Artists in Residence, Joshua Eiskamp and Charisse Mae Harris.

Akron Soul Train grants fellowships that provide resources for all creative disciplines to create a new body of work with the intention of “fostering a more vibrant downtown Akron.” This exhibit of two recent resident artists highlights what Akron Soul Train is doing while raising awareness of the new gallery space.

Project Three Gallery is not large, but the space is newly remodeled and it would be easy to create innovative exhibitions or installations that would foster dialogues about what an artist is making, or about important issues that the community might be facing. This is an exciting, bold and challenging endeavor, one that people should support if they want to see real and sustained change happen in local business.

Josh Eiskamp is an abstract painter and Charisse Mae Harris is a mixed-media artist.

For the exhibit, Eiskamp is displaying paintings from his body of work "Pendulous: Akron," which he states is “focused on the spatial interplay between painterly color field and select visual elements sourced through observations, drawings and photographs of Akron areas on South High, East Bowery, South Broadway, and East Mill.”

His "54 E. Mill" is a painting of this location in Akron that also highlights the road construction that has become all too familiar for residents. Three manhole covers (or possibly potholes) are focal points in the composition, with orange barrels lining the left side of the painting. The orange barrels eventually give way to street lights and a bridge in the distant background.

Eiskamp states that his intention is to invite viewers to dive into the work and immerse themselves. The representational qualities of the paintings keep them relatable, while at the same time they retain much of the painterly or slightly abstract qualities that make them interesting to look at and full of life.

Harris has created autobiographical miniature sculptures exploring the evolution and complexities of soul food in black culture. For the exhibit, the sculptures are displayed on small shelves with a framed photo of the sculptures placed in or held by a person's hand directly above. Harris states that she begins each sculpture with one of her own food memories, and a “dialogue about food memories is then created between others and herself.”

"Collard Greens" is a polymer clay, plastic and ceramic miniature sculpture. The work features a silver pot overflowing with greens, next to it a tiny bowl, which is also filled greens and has a tiny utensil sticking out. There is a vitality about this work, a sense of humor and ultimately because of the size of the piece and how realistic it is, there is a unique connective quality.

The miniature size takes the work out of the realm of reality and into an engaging story mode, where you can ask questions like, why is it so small? What motivated the artist to make it this way?

Here, in a small gallery space on Kenmore Boulevard, you can see how the arts are helping to shape conversations about the community. Arts groups and artists have come together to provide a portal into a potentially brighter future. It’s an exciting moment, one I encourage everyone to take advantage of.

 

Contact Anderson Turner at haturner3@gmail.com.