Art professor’s work on display

Marisa Dalessandro

Show advertised with Billboards across Akron area

Kirk Mangus, professor of art and ceramics, poses with one of his sculptures. This summer Mangus’ art will be displayed at various area locations.

Credit: Beth Rankin

It’s not every day that an artist has his work displayed on a billboard, but Kirk Mangus, Kent State professor of art, has five of them.

The billboards are up around the Akron area to promote the second installment of New Master Drawings, an Akron Art Museum exhibition. The exhibition is being held at Summit Artspace, since the museum’s galleries are closed for expansion.

New Master Drawings features works by Lisa Jameson, Matthew Kolodziej and Mangus. It is part of the museum’s Ohio Perspectives series.

Museum curator Katie Wat chose Mangus to be part of the show. Wat came across Mangus’ work in the rejected pile of applications for the High Arts Council grant that he applied for a year ago.

“She saw my work and liked it so much that she came for a studio visit and asked me to be in the show,” Mangus said.

The show features his evocative abstractions, comical cartoons and enchanting watercolors. It reveals the artist’s power to capture a wide range of emotions and ideas.

“Art has so many different aspects to it,” Mangus said, “It’s all part of a big ball of wax, each eliciting emotion.”

Mangus combines a technique inspired by underground comic art using subjects from history, B-movies and his own travels. The drawings are humorous and ironic.

“People love cartoons because the cartoons are a microcosm of themselves. People identify with people, and my work has to do with the relationship between them,” Mangus said.

His work varies in size, the largest pieces being a series about the Trojan War and a 12-foot-wide mural he drew directly on the wall at Summit Artspace.

The mural is a temporary work centered on fashion. Mangus found small drawings in his drawer and transposed them onto the wall with a pencil attached to a stick.

“Heaven is a place where French fashion looks good on everyone,” Mangus said about the mural, “A person can be beautiful no matter how thin or thick, whether they’re wearing a burlap sack or a tire around their waist.”

A portion of his work in the show revolves around his experiences in Lithuania. Mangus was invited to a sculpture workshop, which lasted close to a month.

During breaks he sat in cafes and drew people who promenaded on the square. “I filled up a lot of sketchbooks because it was such an interesting place,” Mangus said.

The final pieces blended images of everyday sightings with drawings of earth goddesses, virgin sacrifices and other figures from Lithuanian folklore.

His talent is not limited to drawing. Mangus is also a ceramist and can be found working in the Kent State Ceramics Lab.

To see Mangus’s work featured in New Master Drawings, now through July 14, go to Summit Artspace, located at 140 E. Market St. in Akron. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.

Contact general assignment reporter Marisa Dalessandro at [email protected].