Trying something different encouraged at show

Four local artists won awards at the current Yellow Springs Arts Council’s STRETCH show by doing exactly what the name implies … stretching their idea of a medium or concept. Corrine Bayraktaroglu of Yellow Springs tweaked a usual 2D embroidery into a 3D butterfly. Kit Crawford of Cedarville took what is normally flat, a stained glass window, and crafted the individual panes into a basket of light and color.

“I sent out a call to everyone who had done a show here last year and offered them an opportunity to judge. Five took me up on it,” said gallery coordinator Nancy Mellon. “Each of them could give up to 20 points for one work.”

The guests who arrived for the Opening Reception on Feb. 21 showed their appreciation of the artists’ talents. There were 38 arts council members exhibiting in the show. Bayraktaroglu won the Art of Distinction award for “The Spin Bird.” Crawford won both the People’s Choice Award, and the Artist-to-Artist Award for “Reaching.”

Bayraktaroglu’s embroidered work is remarkable, for its brilliant color, design and intricate stitching. The butterfly wings are joined together behind a tiny, whimsical glass bird. In 2010 she did a series of 10 spin-art paintings, and she really didn’t care much for them because they didn’t sell. However, they attracted all manner of unwanted attention.

“In 2013 I discovered quite a few people had literally ripped me off and used the designs for record albums, books and advertising all over the world,” said Bayraktaroglu, who emigrated from northeast England in 1978. “But that made me look at the spin paintings again and re-evaluate them.”

She had been doing hand embroidery since she was a young girl, and was self-taught in that art. She abandoned that for two decades after taking her first painting class at the age of 40 from a teacher/mentor in Maryland. Recently, she decided to translate her paintings into stitched art, and manipulate it with wires to create a 3D effect. It takes a lot of patience, as one tiny section will take up to an hour to create. Each work has a unique center “character.”

“I’ve come full circle, learning embroidery, learning how to paint, and then using my paintings to create new embroidery concepts,” said Bayraktaroglu.

Crawford also began her love of visual arts as a young child with drawing. She learned advanced concepts for illustrating in Paris for a foreign study program through Antioch College in1967. She used her drawing skills to re-imagine stained glass into a 3D work. The glass sculpture has swirling birds, flowers, and a fish, with a hand in the center “Reaching” for the stars overhead.

“The show’s theme was STRETCH, and sparked the idea for me to go outside my comfort zone and try something new. It was a challenge,” said Crawford, whose husband created the pinewood base. “Winning the two awards was extraordinary for me because I don’t have much experience exhibiting. I’m grateful people appreciated my art.”

Crawford’s sister, Diane Collinson, is a fellow YSAC member who is showing three ceramic vessels. She is the one who taught Crawford how to work with stained glass and has encouraged her to get serious with her craft.

“I’ve always been in love with glass,” said Crawford, who’s worked with the medium over the past 20 years. “I just built it up from the inside out. I wanted to create movement in the piece.”

Crawford taught art and science at Antioch School in the eighties. Since retiring from full-time work in 2007, Crawford has been able to spend more time doing what she loves.

“Everyone is creative, and I’m very encouraged,” said Crawford. “It’s extraordinary the way the arts council welcomes artists at all levels and gives them an opportunity to exhibit their work.”

Other award winners were Alice Robrish for two collograph prints, and Ewan Anderson won the Mills Award for “Cypress Trees.”

“Alice usually creates beautiful sculpted pieces, mixtures of wood and figural elements. The print medium was entirely new to her,” said Mellon.

Libby Rudolf created “European Fantasy,” an acrylic painting, when she was accustomed to watercolor. An elaborate mixed media window installation, “Ice Capaper: Victorian Paper Dolls Meets Project Runway Meets Polar Vortex” was created by Susan Gartner. Also a DVD regarding Yellow Springs storytellers was created by Jonatha and Harold Wright.

At the Opening Reception, there were many other activities for guests to enjoy. Mellon created a “House of Cards” for people to build, crawl inside, and knock down. It was made out of poster-boards plastered with more than 2,000 business cards after she shuttered her 3-year business called “Getaways for Women.” Also in the back studio, attendees were invited to create their own twist-tie art sculptures.

“We are a different kind of gallery,” said Mellon. We are about helping people in the community get opportunities to go on to the next stage.

Contact contributing writer Pamela Dillon at pamdillon@woh.rr.com.

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