Hedge Gallery and Mark Howard

Posted by Gregory Johnson on

In case you didn't know, I live near Cleveland, Ohio. I've been a working artist for over 40 years, but a full-time artist the last two. One of the things I've noticed lately is how art is really exploding in Northeast Ohio. This was brought home to me when I visited the West 78th Studios on the near west side of Cleveland, and was able to appreciate the work of scores of area artists. I love artists. I never feel jealous or envious when they succeed; it makes me happy. As I've said many times, we NEED art, now more than ever. I consider art to be an important form of love.

There were two reasons I visited these studios on the "Third Friday Art Walk", which draws a large crowd of people to view and buy local art. One was to connect with some artists that were showing there, (I bought some), just to shoot the breeze and appreciate each other. The other was a show being presented at Hedge Gallery there-the work of Mark Howard. A sample is attached of one of his pieces. An idea had been percolating in my head, to use this blog on my site to single out area artists and their partners and supporters. I get a little tired of blowing my own horn, to be honest, when there are great Cleveland area artists out there that should be recognized whenever and however possible.

Hedge Gallery is a rustic, elegant venue, located in West 78th Street Studios, a reconverted warehouse building. If you're from Cleveland, and have never been there, I highly recommend you visit, especially on the third Friday of every month, when all the studios open their doors and you have the opportunity to view all kinds of eclectic art, and chat with the artists. (Which I love to do).

After wandering around the building, I headed for Hedge Gallery, which is located on the second floor. As I walked in, I was greeted by a huge, brilliant mural depicting the baby Moses being discovered floating on the Nile in his reed basket. A "mirror" technique was used in which the image is repeated exactly, which gave it a feeling of a kind of permanence. The figures are rendered in bold relief. Bright primary and secondary colors contrasted with black to produce a work of extraordinary power. The only painting that depicted human figures, this was an amazing beginning. This work reflected a constant that I noticed in all of Mark Howard's work: quality. I'll get back to that later...

The majority of the show, titled rightfully, "In Color", was for this artist, a joy not only in color, but composition in abstract painting. Every painting moved. Many were painted on round canvases, and the eyes of the observer were carried around the work, only to stop and linger on bright contrasting colors, and the skillful celebration of shape. These are the things that motivate me as an artist, and are what delight the casual viewer.

As I have written in a previous blog, ("Quality"), the idea of what constitutes quality can be arguable, but when you see it, you know it. Mark Howard's work represents the type of quality that one can expect from a Cleveland Institute of Art graduate, as well as a professional artist with 30 years experience. This is a beautiful show, presented tastefully by Hedge Gallery.

"In Color" will be on view at Hedge Gallery September 15-November 3, 2023. Check their website, hedgeartgallery.com to check gallery hours.

This is Number Two of my ongoing series about art in Northeast Ohio. On to the next gem!



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