akron museum art mail exhibit review

Nothing has been hit harder economically by the pandemic over the past year than our cultural institutions. To say that the year was “difficult” is perhaps the understatement of the century – perhaps two centuries.

Art museums around the world are having to cut budgets and find new revenue streams without having the staff to create those revenue streams. At the same time, institutions are scrambling to find ways to welcome customers back into their spaces in productive and safe ways.

The Akron Art Museum is fighting the pandemic the same way as national and international museums. Last year, the museum director also resigned and several community members raised concerns about the way the museum treated its staff and conducted its business.

As I said, it has been a difficult year, although it is the type of year that can redefine the museum’s role in our wider community and help ensure its long-term well-being. This is extremely important, not only for the Akron Art Museum, but because the health of downtown is also tied to the fact that the museum is a well-run institution that attracts people from all over the region and the world to visit Akron.

“Akron Art Mail,” on view through Feb. 22, 2021, is an exhibit curated by the Akron Museum of Art and the Akron-Summit County Public Library. The project “aims to put art and writing in the hands of people”.

It has three main components: commissioned art cards offered free of charge to patrons; a community art card exhibit; and a catalog of electronic books. If you are interested in participating in the project, information is available on the museum’s website.

The exhibit is carefully curated and features several people whose artwork and writing help make Ohio a richer, more textured place to live.

It’s a bit shocking to see the show after walking through galleries that display the permanent collection. Indeed, the spaces next to the exhibition are temporary spaces that often change for the museum’s marquee exhibitions. They are blocked for future installation or installation, and although done in a thoughtful and professional manner, it is reminiscent of a place in flux.

However, it wouldn’t be 2020 without something to force you back to reality.

The exhibit features a room full of framed postcards of writers and artists who have been commissioned to work for the exhibit. Also in the space is a display of cards made by the public that were mailed in and displayed.

It will be fun to return to the museum and see how the post card display begins to grow and change as the exhibit goes on.

April Couch is a self-taught artist and owner of Totally Tanged Creations. Couch’s postcard features a person wearing ornately designed necklaces and earrings as well as ornately decorated hair. Hair features textures and patterns that range from mathematical to floral in appearance.

It is an inviting work, which holds your attention through its elaborate details as you look at it.

Theron Brown lives in Akron and is a professor of jazz piano at Kent State University. Its map, inspired by a piece in artist Paul Yanko’s permanent collection, reads on the front “You are either an artist or an entertainment consumer, but we all need an entertainment district.”

Behind the text in an overlapping composition of red, yellow and blue rectangle shapes. The back of the card has text from Brown detailing how we all miss places like the museum where we spend time with family and friends and how we all yearn for normalcy and ends with the text on the front from the menu.

Maria Alejandra Zanetta was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she studied at the National School of Arts. After earning her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at The Ohio State University, she joined the faculty at the University of Akron where she teaches courses in Hispanic literature, language, and culture.

Her postcard, which is a cut of linoleum and a collage, depicts a cafe scene. The composition consists of a moka pot, a coffee cup, a croissant (on a plate) and a fork placed in front of a flower arrangement with a window in the background and the sign of the cafe visible upside down.

Bright colors of blue, green, and pink along with stripes and polka dots help make this piece stand out.

It’s not the type of exhibit that will knock you over at first glance. However, the more you browse through what is included, the better you understand how important the museum is to the community and region. Exhibits like this are a nice first step to help remind people how valuable this museum can be.

Maria Alejandra Zanetta's linoleum cut and collage postcard depicts a cafe scene.
Akron musician Theron Brown, a jazz piano professor at Kent State University, contributed this map to the Akron Art Museum.
April Couch's postcard depicts a person wearing ornately designed necklaces and earrings and equally ornately decorated hair.

Comments are closed.