CUYAHOGA FALLS — Though Front Street may be under construction, visitors can still stop in at the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center, which is hosting its 34th annual juried exhibition through Nov. 16 with 65 juried entries on exhibit.

The artwork is divided into five categories — water based media, oil based media, dry media, mixed media and 3-dimensional media. The exhibition is national, with 60 percent of the artists outside of Cuyahoga Falls, said Executive Director Danielle Dieterich. The artists determine if the work is for sale.

"We sell quite a bit of art in every exhibition," Dieterich said. "We have a whole community of artists who want to come out and exhibit their work."

The next show will feature the students and faculty of the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center, Dieterich said. Anyone who took a class or workshop in 2017 is eligible to participate.

The students’ work will be hung near the instructors’ work, and will detail how their artwork is influenced by the instructor and how the students have grown, she said.

Visitors can meet the staff and the artists at a public reception Dec. 8 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the main gallery. Guests may participate in the People's Choice voting process by voting on a favorite art piece beginning Nov. 20 and ending at 6:30 p.m. the night of the reception.

"It’s mostly for people who never exhibited before," Dieterich said. "I’ll hang as much as I can."

The CVAC also hosts numerous classes taught by art instructors.

Dieterich said the center tries to offer different classes than those at the Quirk Cultural Center, 1or Peninsula Art Academy, where many of their instructors also teach classes. The Peninsula Art Academy is honoring its founders Edna Ratner and Carol Adams at a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 18 at 1600 Mill St. West in Peninsula.

The Cuyahoga Art Center has 400 people taking classes for adults and children, she said.

The building used to be a bank and the lower floor has three vaults. The large main vault is used for storing artwork. Another vault, originally used for storing documents, is for storing clay for the ceramic class, which is popular.

"Students purchase 25 pounds of clay and build a project," Deiterich said. "You make it, fire and glaze it from clay to finish."

Printmaking is another class offered in space on the lower level, she said. It appeals to children and adults.

Children who participate in classes have an exhibit in the gallery to show off their artwork, she added.

Drawing and woodcarving classes are on the second floor. Wood carving is a new class taught by Tom Baldwin, who won Second Best in the World in Division D for interpretive wood sculpture with "The Grief of Gaia." The class was made possible by a grant from the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation in Hudson.

Dieterich, 33, grew up working in the building, which was owned by her parents and donated for the art center. She earned a degree in Arts Administration from the University of Akron and was hired by the board, which has 12 members last year. In addition, the women’s auxiliary helps raise funds for expenses, such as repairs this year to an exterior wall and roof.

"This was a club based organization and is now more professional non-profit level," Dieterich said.

Part of her degree includes curation, and Dieterich said she loves hanging the artwork and seeing how the color and depth draws someone forward into the work.

"Our mission is to focus on the promotion of art and education; exhibition; and community development by promoting the arts."

Dieterich is looking at ways to integrate the arts into the community events, especially those on Front Street.

Instructors dedicated to their craft

Professional Artist Mark Giangaspero is one of the instructors at CVAC. He studied and taught under Jack Richard for 42 years before he owned and ran the studio after Richard died in 2014. He works in all mediums but focuses on oils and pastels.

"I’ve always liked creating something out of nothing," Giangaspero said.

He mostly paints portraits and figures and has a series focusing on identity.

Giangaspero is currently teaching Painting & Drawing from Beginning to End and teaches the language of art and helps students find their interest and style.

Art instructor Susan Mencini has an art piece in the current exhibit "Alone" made from mixed media of paper and paint. It is a small study for a larger piece and won honorable mention.

She attended Coopers School, a commercial art school, which was in Cleveland and had some of the same instructors as the Cleveland Fine Art Institute.

"I always liked drawing since I was a kid," Mencini said. "I found this place [CVAC] in 2000 and have been involved ever since, first as a volunteer and now as an instructor."

She was showing students Nov. 3 the elements of art and design and how to develop a landscape from beginning to end. She also teaches K-6th grade students at Cornerstone Community School in Tallmadge.

"I love to see the light bulbs go off in their heads," Mencini said.

She teaches acrylic but mentors student by asking them to look at other’s artwork and judge what they like such as composition, colors and values.

"If you want them to advance in artwork, you want them to be a judge of their own work," Mencini said.

Student Christine McCorkle of Cuyahoga Falls said she has been taking classes for nine years on and off.

"I do it purely for fun," McCorkle said. "There’s a nice variety of art classes here."

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