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The Ohio Arts Council (OAC) has supported the arts and preserved cultural heritage in the Buckeye state since 1965. The council maintains more than seven different grant programs, funding various artists and organizations including Arthoppper.org.
Coinciding with the OAC’s 50th anniversary in 2015, the exhibition Flashback to Now brings attention to a particularly important aspect of the program—the individual artist grant. This exhibition, held at the OAC’s own Riffe Gallery, features fifteen of the earliest individual artist grant recipients of the 1980s. Curator Ann Bremner worked closely with each artist to select works created at the time of the artist’s first grant(s) as well as current work to hang alongside.
Artworks by fifteen artists showcased in Flashback to Now reveal the various ways artistic careers develop. Brinsley Tyrrell rendered beautiful outdoor scenes first during the 1980s and again in the 2000s, but the pastel drawings of his early work gave way to more energy-infused enamel compositions. Janice Lessman-Moss spent her career dedicated to textiles, but technological advancements allowed her to weave with the aid of computers.
Pushing the boundaries of photography throughout his career, Gregory Spaid shifted from hand-colored silver prints to assemblages of photographs and tools. Artist Paul O’Keeffe more dramatically changed his thematic interests. His earlier works gesture toward vaguely religious themes, while his current work explores the potential of color.
Although society has changed in many ways from 1980s to now, Bremner points out that some things have remained the same. “Two things that have not changed are the high level of art being produced in this state and the commitment of the Ohio Arts Council to supporting the artists who are making it.” Flashback to Now offers an elegant meditation on the coexistence of continuity and change across time.
Flashback to Now is on view through October 18, 2015. For more information and a full list of artists included in the exhibition, see http://www.oac.state.oh.us/riffe/exhibitions/2015/flashback/Flashback.asp.
Anna Schuer McCoy is a doctoral student in Art History at The Ohio State University. She has interned at the Cleveland Art Museum and the Columbus Museum of Art. View more articles by Anna Schuer McCoy.