BAYarts October art exhibitions focus on the unexpected

"Respectful of its Roots" by Allison Polgar

The October gallery exhibitions at BAYarts are unified in their coincidental theme of finding beauty in unexpected, overlooked places. For "Re-Source-Full," Martha Cliffel uses discarded items to create her masterpieces. And in "Tall Walls," Allison Polgar focuses on the allure of overlooked scenes of life.

Finding cohesion in the mix, Artistic Director Karen Petkovic says, "Martha is an intuitive builder and gleans meaning from the juxtaposition of disparate and sometimes haunting objects – quite like the objects and scenes depicted in Polgar's paintings."

Cliffel's exhibition in the Sullivan Family Gallery displays assemblage work shown both as wall hangings and sculptural pieces. Petkovic shares, "We will be exhibiting work of all sizes and price points. Our hope is that everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy the work and add it to their personal collections."

Cliffel's work has prominent themes of both motherhood and religion. A mix of items included in the piece named "Mother" includes a Ouija board, carved Abraham Lincoln figure, a baby shoe, buttons, nature flashcards, and a wedding doll. “My work is definitely weird,” Cliffel affirms. “As an artist, I like to find humor in things and rebel. A lot of my work is a rebellion against the Catholic schools that I went to."

Much of her work includes mosaics of broken dishes. “I really like to break dishes,” Cliffel declares happily. “I have seven children, and I’m the oldest of nine children, so I’ve done a lot of dishes in my life. When I got married, you picked out your china pattern and all that because that was the role you had in those days as a woman. Now I get a special joy out of smashing dishes. It’s really therapeutic.”

In the Dianne Boldman Education gallery is another exhibition, that by Allison Polgar. "Tall Walls" presents the neighborhoods of Cleveland's near West Side as they look under construction. In these states, the artist has found a simply rendered beauty in the details of the commonplace.

Another key point of the art, she says, is "the disruption that occurs when a specific brand of progress or revitalization is imposed upon an existing neighborhood." Areas in Edgewater/Detroit Shoreway/Gordon Square and Ohio City might be recognized.

Polgar says she has been drawn to unusual beauty for a while. "When I moved back in with my parents after graduating college, I made a series of paintings based on photos I took of the 'ugliest' commercial buildings I could find in North Olmsted (gas stations, fast food buildings, etc.). While it started out as simply a way of dealing with my environment, the series quickly became a meditation on the simplicity and honesty of the architecture around me."

The exhibition features buildings in all stages of creation. In fact, it was the undone look of buildings that impacted the exhibition's name. "Most of the paintings show luxury condo development in various stages of completion, some have that distinctive Tyvek wrap insulating them, others are almost finished, and some are just the bare Tallwall sheathing (which inspired the name of the show)."

In the process of painting, Polgar has found she's influenced by a well-known American realist artist that commonly focused on sparse urban landscapes. "There is typically a bright blue sky (in these pieces), and a strong light source that casts sharp shadows ... I've recognized the influence of Edward Hopper on this current series." Like Hopper, Polgar achieves firmly defined lines of light and a sense of noiselessness in her scenes.

These shows are on display through Nov. 10. BAYarts is open Monday through Saturday. The Cliffel exhibition can be seen 9-3 p.m., the Polgar exhibition can be seen 9-5 p.m., or by special appointment.

Jessica Stockdale

Jessica Stockdale is the Marketing Manager at BAYarts.

BAYarts is a cultural arts campus that features education, exhibition and events. 

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Volume 10, Issue 20, Posted 10:08 AM, 10.16.2018