Preview: Outside/In exhibit at Open Door Art Studio

  • Untitled, by Mark Webber from Thunder-Sky Inc.
From the August 9, 2012 edition

Perhaps the most exciting reason to go to the new exhibition at Open Door Art Studio is also the reason studio employee Cat Lynch loves going to work.

“Working here, it’s hard to come up with an excuse to not make art,” said Lynch, who is an art facilitator and habilitation coordinator at the Grandview space. “‘I’m tired’ or ‘I don’t have a great idea’ don’t work anymore now that I work with artists who have every reason not to make art. They’re cranking out painting after painting with enthusiasm.”

Open Door is a 6,700-square-foot studio for artists with disabilities. Professionally trained artists, such as Lynch, teach classes on a variety of mediums, giving students a chance to explore and express themselves through art.

Sixty pieces of work created by artists at Open Door and seven other similar studios in the state — including Cincinnati’s Thunder-Sky Inc. — are on display in “Outside/In,” a free exhibition in Open Door’s gallery space.

“It’s going to be really interesting to see how different all the studios are in their approach by seeing the artworks side by side,” Lynch said.

Some focus on collaboration, others on individual expression; some on the process, others on the content.

“I was surprised at the amount of high-quality outsider artwork I found,” Lynch said. “I’d go to the studio and expect to [pick out] five pieces [for “Outside/In”], and I’d come back with eight.”

There was no theme for the exhibit; however, there are a lot of representations of superheroes and pop culture icons, and Lynch said one inspiring idea keeps reoccurring: the idea that there are no rules.

“In art school, there is this cloud of academic rhetoric. We’re all reading the same stuff, speaking the same language,” she said. “But here, they don’t care that pink is not an acceptable color for a serious painting. It’s so less serious, and more fun. The work is so fearless. It can teach us a lot.”

For example, the work by Marty Freireich, who paints with his feet.

“Chaotic but beautiful,” Lynch said. “That’s totally Marty.”