Images by CH artist keep viewers looking
“People like order, finding patterns, seeing archetypes,” said Stephen Calhoun, a 61-year-old self-trained artist from Cleveland Heights.
The Grasp of Order, a show of 15 of Calhoun’s large, colorful digital works—described as “psychedelic still life”—will be on view at The Gallery at Gray’s (within Gray’s Auctioneers and Appraisers, 10717 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-226-3300, www.graysauctioneers.com/gallery) until this fall. An opening reception will take place on Friday, May 6, 5–8 p.m.
Calhoun produces the images, some as large as 4 by 6 feet, using an ultraviolet curable inkjet large format printer at Vista Color Imaging in Cleveland. Unframed, the pieces are printed onto aluminum, brushed aluminum, or the underside of clear optical acrylic.
Most of the works start from digital photographs of select objects set amidst natural debris Calhoun finds in his neighborhood.
“I have an eye on people’s tree lawns and garage sales,” said Calhoun.
Calhoun arranges each collection of aged curled leaves, seedpods, sticks, found objects, and more, and then photographs them from directly above.
Next, the photographs are halved or quartered, and portions are removed. Calhoun works with the remainder and creates a mirror image, resulting in a symmetric composition.
Calhoun spends many hours on each work, manipulating individual pixels and using other techniques to arrive at the final image—most of which he then digitally enlarges by a factor of 5 to ten.
In two of these images, rare, definable humanoid figures—an angel and a Buddha—poke forth, through a froth of natural ground cover—kitsch or psyche?
Other images are more cryptic, yet uncannily familiar to anyone who’s walked down a residential suburban sidewalk amidst fallen leaves during autumn.
“Each piece is a result of an experiment,” Calhoun said. “I don’t do an experiment a second time. Ninety percent of the experiments don’t cut it, and are discarded.”
Calhoun’s intention is for the viewers to be engaged in completing each experiment. (This viewer likes his work best where much is undetermined and left up to the viewer. It keeps me looking.)
To view additional images of Calhoun’s work, visit www.squareone-learning.com/my-naive-art.
Lee Batdorff has been a Cleveland Heights resident since 1966, and is a friend of Stephen Calhoun.