Preview: May Gallery Hop

Jackie Mantey, Columbus Alive

The AICUO Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts recently recognized six college seniors as the best of the state's art school best. Five galleries at May Hop will showcase all the winning work from this year's competition.

Grid Furnishings' owner Tim Friar was a judge this year, and he snagged two local winners to show at his store - painter Taylor Hawkins and multimedia artist Erin McKenna, both CCAD graduating seniors.

"I think painting is more important now than ever. There's so much material, so many images. Going back to that history of painting, it is something that will never die," Hawkins said. "I think we're still figuring out how many different ways you can push paint and how you can depict dialogue through paint."

Hawkins' massive canvases are multifaceted oil paintings with complicated stories to tell. To help, he's enlisted the vocabulary of the great painters of the past. Visual art-history cues are hidden like "Where's Waldo?" - a Picasso eye, Lichtenstein's brush stroke, a pixilated Mickey Mouse hand.

"Creativity is a practice and everything is derived from something," Hawkins said. "A lot of artists are scared of showing where they're coming from. I'm not. I'm not indirectly putting them in my painting; I'm directly putting them in my painting … They're helping me tell my story, my personal experience. Taking the context of their painting and putting it into my painting creates this whole dialogue that makes my painting have an even wider meaning."

McKenna's work on view at Grid earned her the Grand Award in the AICUO competition. Her hanging sculptures, she said, are "metaphors of the body and materials and how they relate to the body."

In the 5-foot-6-inch "Too Much of a Great Thing," foam sealant pokes painfully from its tulle, body-shaped shell.

"It's kind of talking about how everyone feels awkward and uncomfortable at some point," she said.

Her "Hi Sandra, This is Ophelia" hanging sculptures are made of things meant to adorn - clothes, wigs and jewelry stuff in nylon - but instead allude to something ugly and dark.

When she first displayed "Hi Sandra, This is Ophelia" at the New York Studio Residency Program last summer, she painted the surrounding space hot pink.

"I imagined this world of a teenage girl, talking on her phone, but at the same time it's referencing that very morbid fate of Ophelia," McKenna said. "At the time I was very interested in the duality of grotesque and beautiful and finding that weird balance and seeing what happened."

Check out the work of the four other AICUO award-winning artists at Sharon Weiss Gallery, pm gallery, Sherrie Gallerie and Studios on High.

Sean Christopher Gallery Ohio

Amanda Jasnowski's poetic pictures attempt to document memories that words cannot completely express - those fuzzy moments that seem delivered directly from a dream. Her images have the sheen of fashion photography - oddly beautiful women in oddly beautiful situations - but linger a bit and you'll find they pluck at something that runs deeper than appearances.

Dane's Dessert Cafe

Nearly a dozen members of Columbus-based artist group Cap City Creatives will have art of various media at the newish dessert bakery just off Poplar Avenue. Called "Eye Candy," the show's art plays on the idea of things we crave, whether it's a plump jelly doughnut or a stunning woman.

Gallery Hop

4-10 p.m. Saturday, May 5

Short North

"Medium Rare: Erin McKenna and Taylor Hawkins"

Through June 30 at Grid Furnishings

"Photography by Amanda Jasnowski"

Through June 30 at Sean Christopher Gallery Ohio

"Eye Candy"

Through June 7 at Dane's Dessert Cafe