West Liberty Gallery Welcomes Works Inspired by Weather, Industry

The Nutting Gallery at West Liberty University welcomes two artists in its next exhibition, “Lucent Findings.”

“We are pleased to announce this exhibition featuring the weather-inspired works on paper of Judith Brandon and the industrial architectural glass sculpture of Michael Mikula and we invite the public to join us for the opening reception,” said retired professor Robert Villamagna.

The reception will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 21.

Brandon, who is a native of Indianapolis, Ind., states that her art is best described as a union between imagination and nature.

“Like weather, emotion is mutable. The most important element I work with is emotion. Capturing a breaking wave as a drawing on paper is like trying to define grief or happiness. It’s elusive, until you allow yourself to get within that wave and experience all of the levels and details that make life so distressing, and yet so delicious. Each piece I create has a story and an overriding emotion that develops gradually and organically. Stories reveal themselves through layers of thoughtful crafting, to become tornadoes, ocean swells, explosions, clouds, and other weather phenomena. Maybe it’s my perception of control, or lack thereof, that compels me to draw upon unusual weather as inspiration. It’s an amazing time to be an artist on this planet, with so many losses and so many discoveries,” she said.

“Each piece begins with scribed elements on cotton rag paper. The scribed lines become geometry, text, and framework that initially define each piece. Colored washes of inks and dyes become an abstract under-painting. Washes saturate the paper, flowing through the incised lines, enhancing them, and creating the emotional framework, guiding me through the drawing process. Pastels, charcoal, razors and graphite are all used to create the top layers of imagery defining the final subject,” Brandon explained.

Brandon attended the Cleveland Institute of Art where she earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art in enameling and drawing. She has been awarded numerous best in shows across the country for her large, dynamic drawings as well as an Ohio Arts Council Grant and several solo exhibitions.

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For more than two decades, Michael Mikula has explored a process using multipart graphite molds as a tool to reinterpret architecture in blown glass, highlighting the visual effects of positive and negative form in this transparent material. He calls the resulting body of work “Architectural Blown Glass.”

“Industrial architectural landscapes and the restless energy of cities point the way for this body of work, with references to the effects of time and remembrance of place,” he stated.

With a jazz-like sense of improvisation, Mikula composes each mold from a large and growing library of interchangeable parts that he mills and hand carves. As a result, no two compositions are ever alike. Once cooled, the resulting deeply dimensional blown forms are cut open, polished and thoughtfully recomposed within an integral metal armature of anodized aluminum and stainless steel. This custom structural system is “built to last the ages” and can be scaled up for larger installations.

Born 1963 in Grand Junction, Colo., and raised in Chautauqua County, N.Y., he earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the Cleveland Institute of and has studied at the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington, the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and the former Fundacio Centre del Vidre in Barcelona, Spain.

From 1988 to 1996 Mikula was a junior member of Benchmark Glass Studio. In 1994, he completed a residency at the Creative Glass Center of America in Millville, N.J.

He exhibits in juried fine art and fine craft exhibitions throughout the United States, including the Smithsonian Craft Show and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.

Residing in Cleveland, he recently relocated his studio to the Hildebrandt Building, which houses a lively mix of creative art and entrepreneurs. In 2009 he was awarded a $20,000 Creative Workforce Fellowship grant, funded by Cuyahoga County, Ohio and received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for 2013.

The exhibition runs through April 12.

Located in the Hall of Fine Arts, the Nutting Gallery exhibitions are free and open to the public. The Nutting Gallery is open 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and evenings and weekends by arrangement. For additional information contact Villamagna at 304-639-0957 or at rvillama@westliberty.edu.