“Akronography” offers creative look to the city

Sam Twarek

The beauty of Akron is in the eye of the beholder — of the camera that is.

The first ever “Akronography” photography show opened Friday at the Summit Artspace Gallery in downtown Akron.

The show gives viewers a chance to discover what Akron looks like through creative eyes, and features portraiture, landscape, abstraction and documentary photography taken around the greater Akron area.

The gallery is sponsored by the Akron Area Arts Alliance, a non-profit advocacy group that includes 44 art and cultural organizations, along with 72 artist and arts supporters.

“Akronography is taking the idea of a city name and adding ‘ography’ to the end of it,” said Andrew McAllister, guest curator and photographer. “It’s a really big idea all over the place right now.”

McAllister decided to host the show for two reasons.

“The first is that I wanted to have a dedicated photography show,” he said. “Here, photography is the only medium, and it appears to be pretty successful so far. We had a lot of photographers submit multiple prints in an unlimited spectrum of ideas all relating to Akron.”

McAllister said the second reason for the “Akronography” show is to promote a reoccurring photography show that will be offered every two years in the Summit Art Space.

Spectators are encouraged to freely roam the gallery area, and are first greeted with a series of untitled silver gelatin prints by Michael Hudik.

Hudik’s photos focus primarily on the aspects of line and shape of everyday objects such as concrete walls and metal bars in outdoor structures.

Viewers are then presented with a more abstract way of looking at Akron in Chris Rutan’s color photos from her “Real World of Toys” series.

Rutan placed small, plastic toys in the forefront of her photographs with various sections of Akron present in the background.

A toy police officer walking his or her night beat on the city streets and a yellow gorilla standing tall against an Akron building were just two of the many photographs in the series.

“I just wanted to do something fun that would make people smile,” Rutan said. “So many other works have these deep meanings and I just wanted to make someone smile and add charm to places people pass by every day.”

Rutan said she thought of the idea in an advanced photography class she is taking at the University of Akron.

Amy Koons’ photographs, “American Dream” and “Welcome Home,” also focus on an everyday sight in the city: storefront windows.

Not only were the items inside the store window visible, but also the reflections of the cityscape in the glass. It’s almost difficult to decide which parts of the photo are actually in the store and which are reflections.

The photographs lead viewers into a smaller gallery space with prints from even more photographers.

The first prints in this area belong to Shane Wynn of Akron.

In her works, “Expecting 1” and “Expecting 2,” Wynn features a semi-nude pregnant woman draped in translucent material, bathed in shades of red, orange and yellow light.

“The prints were originally black and white, but I was encouraged to digitally manipulate them into those colors,” Wynn said. “My goal in almost all of my photos is to display in a picture how beautiful a person is in real life.”

Wynn said she generally photographs women and loves to photograph her friends when they are pregnant.

McAllister’s prints are also featured in this smaller room.

In his photos, “Two Views from the University of Akron 2000” and “Two Views from the Akron Art Museum 2007,” McAllister used both natural and unnatural light to create comforting shades of purple, orange and blue in various Akron areas.

Spectators and associates of the Akron Area Arts Alliance agreed that the show offered a wide variety in color, style and technique.

“I’m really excited about this showing,” said Jessie Raynor, director of the Akron Area Arts Alliance. “I think we have a good variety of innovative ways to use photography with incredible techniques. These artists see beyond what we see every day.”

Warren Soulsby of Akron said he enjoyed the variety of photographs.

“It’s a different kind of show,” he said. “You look in one area for a while, and then you look over in another and it’s a completely different idea.”

“Akronography” will be open to the public at the Summit Artspace Gallery through Nov. 3, free of charge.

Exhibition hours are every Thursday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.

Contact College of the Arts and College of Architecture and Environmental Design reporter Sam Twarek at [email protected].