78th Street Studios

(originally posted 1/17/2010)

My husband and I went to 78th Street Studios on Friday night for the quarterly open house.  The studios are housed in the old American Greetings Creative Arts Building on W 78th just north of Lake Avenue.

The first time I visited the area was for an exhibit of works by Gary Spinosa and Darren Waterston at Kokoon Arts Gallery.   Although the gallery takes it’s name from an old Cleveland group of artists, neither of those artists are local.  But they are magnificent.  Almost every one of the many Darren Waterston paintings blew me away.  I was surprised by the amount of his paintings that were on display at Kokoon.  And Gary Spinosa’s sculptures were just incredible.  There were dozens of these stones (?) sculpted into animal shapes.  The way it was done, with beautiful, rounded details made them appear like reverse fossils. Like the details had been smoothed over time, wonderful ancient treasures. The absolute best is the giant ram’s head sculpture that is the cover image of the book, The Philosopher’s Stone.  I bought the book.  It’s amazing. William Scheele, owner of Kokoon, manages to bring works of very impressive American artists into my corner of the world, and I’m very grateful to him.  I wouldn’t be able to experience these works in person otherwise.

Most of the studios are currently on the 2nd floor of the main building.  Kokoon is there.  And I’ve visited the Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery before.  Friday night was the first time I visited the Keri-Lee Studio.  Wow! I love all the colors and all the different styles.  Every spot of wall had something, and many spots had layers of somethings.  There were a couple of mona lisa’s (painted in a more modern style) with brightly colored designs painted over them.  Other paintings were done in literal 3 dimensions.  I loved it.  A tv covered with an assortment of everyday items spray painted silver.  Just tons of colors.

A couple of Paul Jacklitch photographs done with an infrared camera were moody and delightful.  Lakeview Cemetary #6 was my favorite.

Legation, A Gallery had these strange pipette and thread pieces. The last thing I want to see in my free time is a pipette. The works were visually interesting, but not my thing. I don’t remember the name of the artist.

On the third floor is Charmaine Spencer. The amount of hardware and power tools would be the envy of many men.  The studio seems to have changed a lot since the last time I was there.  I remember a lot more paintings there last time.  Anyway, there is a new sculpture and that resembles a garden, with tomato stakes and ties.  It’s much more complex than I can describe.

One of the coolest things I saw was that they  are opening up the first floor of the warehouse space and putting in a load of new studio spaces.  One girl had just moved in 4 hours prior to me wandering into her studio. The new space looks like it could more than double the amount of spaces.  I hope all the artists participate in the open houses.  It’s great to see a healthy arts community.

Except for the couple of truly obnoxious people at the 78th studios (they are the minority, but the stereotypical, self-important, art snobs do attend the open houses. They should only open their wallets as often as they open their mouths), the night was perfect.  And actually, the obnoxious people just gave me stuff to laugh at.

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