Museum fast forwarding to the renaissance

October 22, 2013

Joseph Pratt

PDT Contributor

The Southern Ohio museum curator, Sarah Johnson, has designed their current show around the theme of “Fasting Forward to the Renaissance,” a day in our past, but a monumental one for art.

Johnson has worked on pulling the exhibit together for the past two years, carefully selecting contemporary artists who are looking back to the Renaissance for inspiration.

“We saw two major big changes in the Renaissance,” Charlotte Gordon, Museum artistic director, explains. “We saw the exploration of perspective and going back in space on a flat plain, but then also the rendering of the human body in a really beautiful fleshy type of form. This was also reflected in the time by Renaissance sculpture.”

The paintings in the exhibit deal with Renaissance themes or contemporary themes that have been influenced by particular Renaissance themes, pieces or artists. This is shown greatly in the work of contributing artist Daniel Hernandez, who has a very particular and unique style of art.

Hernandez, of Toledo, Ohio, paints using Renaissance styles and themes in his pictorials of religion and history meet video games and cartoons.

“He doesn’t work on canvases, he actually works on boards. He layers them, brings in collage elements, paints overtop of them and in some instances carves back into the drywall to create this plaster fresco looking surface, but you can clearly see the video game characters that have influenced him,” Gordon said. “You can then go back and see not only contemporary images, but some Renaissance ones as well. So, what you might get is this Renaissance Christ fighting off Star Wars characters. The whole thing is set in what looks like a Renaissance video game and creates a real melting pot.”

Hernandez was the 2011 recipient of the Ohio Arts Council’s Individual Excellency Award and is represented by Kim Foster Gallery, New York, New York. Hernandez is the Art in Public Places coordinator at the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo and also teaches at The University of Toledo.

“What results are objects, images, and worlds that exist between the parts that conceived the initial connection. They are the embodiment of the connection or the artifacts that confirm its existence and through their creation the connection becomes concrete. This is not to say that what results is fact because it is not. Fact is what actually exists and that can be proven. It is the work of historians and scientists. My works are the possibilities, the ‘what ifs,’ the maybes, they are fictions and inventions,” Hernandez says about the juxtaposition of contemporary video games and historic connections in his artist statement on his website titled “Genesis.”

Hernandez is just one of six other artists featured in the exhibit, so if video games aren’t your fancy, you can find other pieces in the collection that appear more traditional.

The Southern Ohio Museum has built an entire program around the Renaissance theme.

Southern Ohio Museum’s circus program, Cirque d’Art Theatre, will present “Good Versus Evil: A Renaissance Tale,” on Oct. 18, 19, 25, and 26 at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. They’ve worked on the choreography for a month and have come up with a “ghastly fable” for Halloween.

A chamber vocal ensemble, under direction of Dr. Stanley Workman, will illustrate music from the Renaissance during “In Harmony with the Renaissance.” The performance will be Nov. 3 at 3 p.m., in which guests will be free to browse the exhibit while they listen to the madrigal music that is considered history’s first “pop music.”

Tim Bridwell will be giving a lecture on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m., as he makes the case for key developments that shattered the Dark Age.

Fantastic Fairytales from Mad Cap Puppets will perform for children on Nov. 15 at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m.

Museum director Mark Chepp will step into his “art history mode” to explore renaissance paintings, as he wraps up the month of celebration with a lecture on Renaissance space on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m.

More information can be found on the Southern Ohio Museum’s newly designed website

“It was a growing point for art,” Gordon explains. “When you look back to the Renaissance, you see that they were using the arts and their artists to keep their culture and intellect from being taken over by neighboring war factions that wanted power. I think it was an inventive and successful way for them to keep their identity and to launch themselves in a way that they couldn’t have been taken over by anyone else. Because they really unleashed and gave artistic freedom their artists, we really started to see a lot of geniuses come out. There was Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Titan. It was such a rich time where they were not only creating, but accepting new ideas.”