Saturday, April 19, 2003

Sculptors, 'open-air artists' spread their wings

By Michele Day
Enquirer contributor

The confines of white-walled galleries can be too restrictive for some artists, says Suzanna Terrill.

Sculptors, in particular, have difficulty finding the proper space for displaying a 6-foot-tall fountain or a massive steel flower. Their works often need a more spacious setting and more natural surroundings than most galleries can offer. This year, more than a dozen fine artists will test the garden-like exhibition accommodations under a huge tent at the Cincinnati Flower Show. Terrill, owner of a white-walled gallery in Cincinnati's Main Street art district, put together the first Artist Studio exhibit for the flower show.

What: Cincinnati Flower Show, presented by Provident Bank
When: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-next Saturday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. April 27.
Where: Coney Island, on the banks of Lake Como, Kellogg Avenue.
Tickets: $15 adults, $3 ages 3-12. Advance tickets ($11) through Sunday at Kroger and Provident Bank locations; by phone, 872-5194 or (800) 670-6808, or at
Miscellaneous: End-of-show sale of some props and plants will start 6 p.m. April 27.
She sought artists whose works can be displayed in a garden, or have a garden or floral theme, but primarily she sought sculptors. "Sculpting, especially, is used so much in gardens," she says.

The artists she chose will bring diverse styles and media to the exhibit.

Jan Brown Checco of Clifton will show mosaic art pavers, or stepping stones. She'll also demonstrate how to make cloches, which are sculptures produced from garden clippings that also function as weather protectors for fragile flowers.

Brenda Richardson makes fountains and fireplaces out of clay tile; Susan Cope Becker creates small sculptures from stone and wire; John Hebenstreit favors classical head and bust sculptures.

Scott Bellissemo's wooden flowers stretch 50-by-55 inches.

Robert J. Morris designs painted steel sculptures for indoors and out; C. Pic Michel's sculptures include papier-míche chairs and totem poles. And the messages on Gary Gaffney's "talking stones" are etched in, well, stone.

Stephanie Cooper has carved a sculpture from the roots of a tree, while Rebecca Seeman shapes hers from steel, and Karlos McAfee transforms wire and found objects into 4- to 5-foot-tall works of art.

The Eyesite Group - Chris Daniel, Rich Fruth and Kirk Mayhew - works as a team on unusual projects. For this show, the artists will leave their mark on a monstrous, but dead, tree beside the Lake Como at Coney Island.

In addition, three plein-air painters, - B.B. Hall (aka Betsy Cunningham), Vicki Todd Baker and Donna Talerico - will work and exhibit at the show.

Plein-air painters, by definition, work outdoors in the "open air."

Artists such as Checco hope this exhibit will be the first of many "open air" exhibits for Cincinnati's fine artists.

"This is an opportunity for working artists to connect with their audience," she says. "The kind of stuff we're doing for the flower show is not something you could stage at a commercial gallery. But this is the kind of stuff that the creative are ready to rise to."

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