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Puppet Show

July 9 - August 31, 2022

Local artists engage with a familiar visual language using puppet and doll imagery. Some are literal figurines or employ them, while others borrow their features. Puppets are one of the oldest mechanisms to blend the real world and the imaginary.centralRanging from 1973-2022, the works in this exhibition provide a contemporary view of the medium for audiences of all ages to enjoy.



Kemlyn Brazda

KemBrazdaArt.com

Instagram: #KemlynBrazda


Cut Loose, 2022

Acrylic on canvas

$220


Kemlyn Braza is a retiree who now devotes time to painting and dr wing. The artist also manages her garden and finds inspiration in the natural world. Cut Loose is part of the series Bugzilla in which Brazda paints oversized insects. Brazda uses pastels and watercolor for landscapes and flower paintings but opts for acrylic paint in Bugzilla to render the bugs’ glossy exteriors. Cut Loose deviates from the rest of the series by considering the grasshopper a puppet rather than a living creature. Brazda references a photograph of a katydid, a long-horned grasshopper, from her garden. The inclusion of strings and handles scales the katydid up, allowing viewers to imagine the bug in reference to a human hand. Brazda reanimates the puppet and restores its autonomy by depicting the strings as severed. The bright red and orange background accentuates the green in the katydid. Brazda encourages viewers to delight in the intersection between the natural and the imagined.


Lily Bulman

Instagram: @bulman.photography


Victor Frankenstein, 2022

Cardboard, marker, butterfly tacks, wood dowels

NFS

Elizabeth Lavenza, 2022

Cardboard, marker, butterfly tacks, wood dowels

NFS

The Creature, 2022

Cardboard, marker, butterfly tacks, wood dowels

NFS


Lily Bulman studies theater at The College of Wooster and is a Meadville local. She engages primarily with theater production, including set, light, and sound design. The Creature derives from a high school project Bulman completed following the class reading of Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley. The series consists of cardboard cut-outs illustrated with markers, hinged at their joints using butterfly tacks, and attached to wooden dowels. Bulman took a course in mask and puppet making at Wooster. Victor Frankenstein and Elizabeth Lavenza mark the completion of the series after Bulman decided to revisit the project more informed in the craft. The most recent puppets resemble popular culture depictions of the Frankenstein story, while The Creature interprets the literary description. Bulman cites her mother as motivation to continue developing her puppet-making skills, and the two even plan on taking classes together in the near future. The artist’s gallery debut supports her studies in theatrical set design and creation.


Anneliese Charles & Ayree Morrison-Metz


The Spinning Baddie 2000, 2022

Mixed-media installation

NFS


Anneliese Charles and Ayree Morrison-Metz, are siblings, best friends, and collaborators. Their installation work, The Spinning Baddie 2000, expands upon an existing hobby where they decapitate dolls and leave the heads around the house for their unsuspecting parents to fi d. The two commonly engage in such activities due to their shared interest in the fantastic . The central figure, endearingly named “Lydia,” systematically controls the other figures within the scene. Morrison-Metz includes Lydia in The Spinning Baddie 2000, though it was initially an independent work. Strings and necklaces signify Lydia’s domain, and the figures’ gruesome state demonstrates her malintent. Charles and Morrison-Metz consider the mechanisms harmful ideologies employ to retain power and identify their relationships to these forces through the strung-up dolls. The artists situate the scene on a wheel to assert abusive power structures as cyclical. The Spinning Baddie 2000 is an ongoing project and marks the debut of Charles and Morrison-Metz’s collaborative gallery exhibitions.


Jaden Estes Carlson

jadenestescarlson.com

Instagram: @jadenestescarlson


LIFE IS SWEET, 2022

Ceramic, underglaze, glaze

$595

FREE FALLING, 2022

Ceramic, underglaze, glaze

$425


Jaden Estes Carlson is a Master of Fine Arts candidate at Edinboro University studying ceramics. Carlson’s practice communicates her experience growing up a woman in rural Nebraska, often by crafting seemingly functional objects decorated with bows, floral or gingham patterns, and illustrations of food to echo the domestic sphere. The artist grapples with simultaneous attachment to and alienation from home by producing a visual and tactile diary. LIFE IS SWEET and FREE FALLING diverge from Carlson’s other works by employing “human” figures. The generic doll imagery evokes feelings of vague familiarity and touches on themes of autonomy Carlson identifies herself through the dolls. The faces are childlike and incorporate Carlson’s younger self into her narrative. The vessels the dolls occupy are closed and, therefore, unable to serve as utilitarian objects. In LIFE IS SWEET, the figure rests on top aimlessly and takes up space, whereas the images in FREE FALLING are two-dimensional and cascading down. Both sculptures employ pastel hues and the artist’s signature ornamentation through constructed bows, ruffles, and flowers. Carlson presents a series of intimate and delicate self-portraits.


Heather Fish


Strings Attached, 2020

Linoleum Block Print

$350

Bird, 2022

Permastone casting

$50


Heather Fish sustains an independent studio practice with a focus in printmaking. Her interest in puppets relates to the anthropomorphic subjects in many of her works. Puppetry lends itself to storytelling by allowing performers to take on fantastical personas while retaining anonymity. For Bird, the artist cast her hand to form a shadow puppet, which is the beginning of an ongoing series. The sculpture remains a hand until a shadow reveals its form. Strings Attached depicts a puppet from a set gifted to Fish by her partner years before their relationship. The color pallet mimics the clothing of its subject, and a hand is visible manipulating the figure. Fish made two prints using the block, one of which was donated to Creative Landscapes Learning Center for their annual fundraiser, though Strings Attached contains a unique tear. The artist enjoys the differentiation between pieces characteristic of her preferred medium. Fish presents viewers with both works as sentimental facets of her practice.


Beth Greenleaf

Etsy & Instagram: @myths_and_clay

Twitch & TikTok: @mythmis


Mr. Tickles, 2022

Clay, wood, fabric

NFS


Beth Greenleaf incorporates personal folklore into functional objects to bring the mythical into the everyday. Mr. Tickles is reminiscent of Greenleaf’s childhood experience visiting her friend’s basement, whose father was a puppeteer. The familiar eerieness of venturing into a basement as a child returns when picturing strung-up figures dangling from the ceiling. Mr. Tickles as an artifact contains his own folklore, enduring a particularly cursed making process. The artist replaced a leg that mysteriously detached, and when firing the fixed puppet in the kiln, everything but the risky leg exploded. The ventriloquist dummy is made mainly of clay with wood and fabric elements. His jaw is unhinged, and his limbs are splayed uselessly as evidence of combustion. Greenleaf enjoys “creepy cute” objects scaled for domestic use or display. Horror can be comforting when it unsettles rather than terrifies. The artist incorporates the fantastical with familiar objects to encourage her audience to engage with their surroundings with childlike wonder. Mr. Tickles extends Greenleaf’s nostalgic fright to any wall he occupies.



Charmaine Koehler-Lodge


The Witch, 1975

Celastic, wood, fabric, acrylic paint

NFS

Not Listening, 1975

Woodblock print on mulberry paper

NFS


Charmaine Koehler-Lodge displays archival works in tandem with her partner Doug Lodge’s puppet collection. Koehler-Lodge met her husband at Allegheny College and recalls experimenting with puppet imagery when they began dating. The Witch marks the beginning and end of Koehler-Lodge’s dabbling in puppet-making, but Not Listening employs woodblock carving. The artist studied printmaking in college, eventually focusing on woodblock printing. Koehler-Lodge illustrates for her sister’s Berkley-based publication, Edible East Bay, and plans to revisit woodblock carving. Not Listening depicts a series of puppets attempting to speak to the one above. Koehler-Lodge remembers considering systems of power and the futility of communicating upwards in a hierarchy. Both pieces call back to early developments within the artist’s diverse practice. Koehler-Lodge values creativity differently than when she first graduated. Rather than making artwork to present for sale, the artist prioritizes self-expression. Finding and reassessing past works informs Koehler-Lodge’s current projects. Presenting The Witch and Not Listening invites viewers into her retrospection.


Doug Lodge


Punch| Judy| Baby| Pretty Polly| Hector the Horse| The Doctor| The Policeman| Gendarme| Jack Ketch the Hangman| Joey the Clown| The Devil|Toby the Dog, 1973

Celastic, wood, fabric, acrylic paint

NFS


Doug Lodge employs the tradition of Pulcinella, anglicized “Punch” puppetry to communicate a more modern narrative. Pulcinella is a stock character within Neapolitan puppetry introduced to the commedia dell’arte in the 17th century and became “Mr. Punch” when he reached England during the Restoration period. The show is traditionally performed by a single puppeteer and consists of brief scenes between two characters designed to continue as long as an audience was present. Over time, the marionettes became hand puppets for ease of transport and to better lend themselves to a one-person show. Punch and his many variations entertained passersby in street theaters peppered throughout European cities. Lodge studied puppetry in college and continued to develop his practice under Bil Baird, a famed puppeteer in Greenwich Village, New York City. Punch embodies the everyman, blindly focusing on self-preservation without consideration for others. He carries a stick and weaponizes it on other characters over various misgivings, beginning with his wife and child and moving up to the hangman, and eventually the devil. However, his antics cause more harm to others than to himself, and he is rarely caught. Each puppet is a caricature easily recognizable in the context of the 1970s. Jack Ketch the Hangman, for example, resembles a certain scandalized former President of the United States. Pretty Polly, Punch’s mistress, calls to mind any number of blonde beauties prevalent in popular culture throughout the 20th century. Lodge no longer performs the show, but once did throughout Meadville and the local region. Presenting his works in a contemporary context asks audiences to consider other familiar narratives and their relationship to cultural artifacts.


Lynn Yusz


Puppets’ Day Off, 2022

Fabric, canvas, mixed-media

$150

Camelflage, 2022

Fabric, wood, string, sunglasses

NFS


Lynn Yusz’s independent studio practice derives from her career as an art therapist Yusz worked as an activity director for nursing homes and assisted living facilities The artist currently volunteers with the Because You Care dog shelter and the Inner-City Neighborhood Art House, supplies her local little free libraries and takes care of dogs professionally Her artwork ranges in medium and subject matter and seeks to encourage creativity in others Yusz performed puppet theater in Erie’s former First Friday Night festival, but presents a new marionette, Camelflage, playing on words with its title Puppets’ Day Off quilts serene puppet-like figures enjoying a book, an art project, and a bath into a recognizable outdoor scene fit for a storybook The artist prioritizes whimsy in this pair of works, inviting audiences of all ages to delight in their humor Yusz asserts the significance of being playful, in contrast to the impulse to take things seriously.


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