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2nd Biennial Highlights Artists from Across the State

2nd Biennial Highlights Artists from Across the State

Self-portraits, abstract shapes, and surrounding environments are a few of the approaches taken by artists in the 2017 Biennial Juried Exhibition at the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Riffe Gallery. The works, selected by esteemed Ohio jurors Larry Collins, Janice Driesbach, and Daniel Hernandez, are an impressive testament to the extensive creativity of current Ohio makers. Spanning across multiple disciplines including sculpture, painting, drawing, video, and photography, artists’ works in the exhibition are potent and personal.

One thing that stood out to me first and foremost was the freedom and personal conviction of the work that artists present. One could argue that all works of art are autobiographical but this exhibition has a strong sense of self exploration - artists  present work near and dear to themselves. With an open juried call, artists were free to create independently, outside of a themed exhibition. The highly anticipated exhibition proves to be important in supporting Ohio artists, and it acts as a catalog featuring our time in this history of makers.

The exhibition’s coinciding programming allows us to hear more about the works, ideas that drive them, and artists’ personal trajectories. Leslie Adams kicked off the Artist Talks series followed by David Griesmyer and Mitchell Rose.

Upcoming artists talks include:

Judith Brandon | Tuesday, November 28, noon – 1 p.m.


Judith Brandon, Shine, 2014, mixed media on paper, 40" x 32"

Judith Brandon proclaims that her painting, Shine, featured in the exhibition “is not just an expression of Cleveland’s dogged cloudiness, but of our own ability to see light through the clouds. Incised within the piece are the words 'Today we play'. This is a reminder to myself that my best work comes from the ability to let go of the expectations of a specific outcome.”

Michael Coppage | Friday, December 8, noon – 1 p.m.

Michael Coppage, Matriarch of Havana, 2017, acrylic on paper, 60" x 42"

Michael Coppage, has been exploring transforming his three-dimensional ways of working into two-dimensional paintings. His expressive, personal portraits of people in his life are layered with depth - conceptually, imbedded with story and human connection, and physically, with dimensions of his paint materials. Coppage explains, “The Matriarch of Havana is a narrative about a mother who sacrificed her youth and ambitions so that her children could prosper. She agreed to let me paint her portrait as a vehicle to help crystalize my memories and experiences while simultaneously adding another chapter to her story.”

Nate Ricciuto | Tuesday, December 12, noon – 1 p.m.

Nate Ricciuto, Surrogate Activities, 2016, bark, two-way mirror, light, foil, mixed media, 8" x 26" x 8"

Nate Ricciuto’s sculptures invite us to engage with delusion and speculation, challenging our perceptions of what is real. Riccuito’s illuminated wall sculpture, Surrogate Activities, featured in the exhibition, invites viewers to peer through its side into an unexpected, unusual composition of reflections and apparatuses. “I am curious about the ways that visions of the future continue to be important markers in the stories we tell ourselves about the past. Informed by an investigation into both the desire to imagine different worlds and the myriad strategies for achieving them, I create experimental sites that explore the porous border between seeing and not seeing.”

April Deacon | Friday, December 15, noon – 1 p.m.

April Deacon, Idol of Worship: Greed, 2015, clay gouache, automotive enamel, found objects, 21" x 17" x 17"

April Deacon’s oeuvre encompasses paintings, collage, and sculpture. Her piece currently on view in the OAC Riffe Gallery, Idol of Worship: Greed, is from her Idols of Worship series. “Through the idols, I use humor to confront our ravenous greed, obsession with vanity, and abuse of power.  More personally, the idols are a passive aggressive means to confront my struggles with the hypocrisies of my own religious background. In the Idol of Worship: Greed, one is confronted with a bird-like creature which occupies an entire cage, its legs bursting out. It holds a smaller gold drenched bird in its beak. The creature is perched atop two antique safety deposit boxes.”

Melissa Vogley Woods | Tuesday, December 19, noon - 1 p.m.

Melissa Vogley Woods, Green Gaze from Below, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 58" x 42

Melissa Vogley Woods, a cross-disciplinary artist work explores notions of painting – through painting on canvas, as sculptures, and often humorous performative videos. Her canvas painting featured in the biennial, Green Gaze from Below, comes from her ongoing body of work that “investigate(s) themes of sexuality, power, and the personal seen throughout the history of painting. This work finds its subject matter in the form of stacked quilts. I am interested in the form of stacked quilts as a metaphor for lost narratives and use the form of the stacked pile in much of my image based work.”

All talks are free and open to the public.

If you are not able to attend in the middle of your day, the gallery is pleased to stream the Artist Talks live on the Ohio Arts Council and OAC Riffe Gallery Facebook pages. The talks are available to be viewed after the live streaming on the Facebook pages and will be available on the OAC’s YouTube Channel.

The OAC Riffe Gallery 2017 Biennial Juried Exhibition is on view now through January 6, 2018.

The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. The Riffe Gallery is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, across from the Statehouse on High Street in Downtown Columbus. Like the Riffe Gallery on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Kim Webb 2017-18 OAC Riffe Gallery Marketing and Exhibitions Fellow

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