Keny Galleries Exhibit has 150 Years of Works by 34 Artists Linked to Ohio
For The Columbus Dispatch - September
Ohio is commonly referred to as the "cradle of presidents," but did you also
know that the state has long been a source of accomplished artists?
"Ohio Masterworks (1850-2000)" at Keny Galleries reinforces the point.
The exhibit at the German Village venue highlights 34 artists - from Edward
Potthast (1857-1927) to Elijah Pierce (1892-1984) - who rank among the best to
have been born in, or have a connection to, the Buckeye State.
The show spans an ambitious 150 years and features a variety of works. Besides
numerous oil paintings, it includes lithographs, photographs, woodcuts and
The earliest-born artist represented is David Gilmour Blythe (1815-65), whose
delightful oil-on-canvas "Room for Improvement" depicts a self-satisfied rogue
bearing scars from a brawl. The most recent is Aminah Robinson (1940-2015),
whose sylphlike sculpture "Ruby" presents a female figure adorned in a dress
and hat and carrying a walking stick and purse.
Multiple works by a single artist - or those by several artists whose styles
overlap - are grouped in specific areas.
For example, the main room features a superb assortment of portraits. Perhaps
the finest is the oil-on-canvas "Francesca" by Joseph DeCamp (1858-1923),
which depicts an adolescent girl seated beside an arrangement of white roses.
Although she looks toward the viewer, the artist suggests that she is being
interrupted from reading - in her lap is an open book, and her left hand is
positioned beneath just-turned pages.
Equally lively is the oil-on-canvas "Picking Blueberries" by Charles Courtney
Curran (1861-1942), in which two girls - siblings, perhaps - pick fruit. In a
dual portrait, the older of the two, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, smiles; the
younger one remains occupied with the task at hand.
Nudes by James R. Hopkins (1877-1969) - also in oil - offer bold color
combinations. "Cynthia" features a female figure who sits atop purple bedding
while her arm rests on a bright orange pillow.
Also vivid are woodcuts by Hopkins' wife, Edna Boies Hopkins (1872-1937). The
thick leaves of a bramble bush stand out in "Bramble (Blackberry)" and a mass
of daisies - purple in the background, light-yellow in the foreground -
dominate "Purple Aster."
Several impressive landscapes share the room. They include the watercolor "Le
Midi" by Alice Schille (1869-1955), a vibrant view of southern France in which
buildings with orange roofs hug the shore.
A gallery hallway is home to lithographs by George Bellows (1882-1925).
Although rendered in black and white, the pieces overflow with interest. In
"My Family, First Stone," Bellows himself is depicted leaning against the back
of a sofa while his wife is seated; their children - one in a rocking chair,
the other on the floor - are nestled in the foreground. A warm feeling of
parental pride is expressed in the work.
For its mix of gentility and violence, Bellows' "Preliminaries to the Big
Bout" also fascinates: Several gentlemen in tuxedos and their elegant
companions stand among observers of a boxing match. Behind them, two figures
are seen tussling - under the watchful eye of a referee, of course.
Bellows' works are in the same hallway as a selection of black-and-white
photographs, including notable shots snapped by Berenice Abbott (1898-1991)
and James Karales (1930-2002).
Abbott's "Newsstand, New York" reflects an epoch during which the printed word
was pre-eminent: The man in the image stands before a newsstand displaying a
slew of periodicals (10-cent sundaes are also advertised). Meanwhile, Karales'
"Rendville, Ohio (Portrait)" offers a close-up of an older man's lined face;
the picture is free of context (other than the Perry County town where it was
taken), and the subject's mien could belong to any era.
Another exhibit, "Landscapes" by Michael McEwan of Columbus, is displayed on
the gallery's second floor.
The artist's oil works depict farms, fields and other terrain, and many scenes
evoke summertime. The lovely "Late October Morning/Olentangy River," however,
presents the river and its banks in an appropriately autumnal palette - a
perfect picture for those seeing the exhibits this fall.