By BRENNA GRITEMAN
If you want to see exceptional art from around the world, you could visit the Louvre Museum in Paris or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
You should, in fact.
But while you’re here in Findlay, make it the Fisher/Wall Art Gallery at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts. The crowds are minimal, admission is free, and the exhibits rotate every six to eight weeks.
“‘Performing arts’ is in our title, but there’s more to it than what’s happening on the stage,” executive director Heather Clow says of the MCPA.
Indeed, the spacious second-floor gallery attracts creations by artists near and far, representing any and all media. Recent exhibits have included glittering, handcut works by Hawkes Crystal of Tiffin; elaborate wood carvings; themed art quilts by Studio Art Quilt Associates; and encaustic paintings made from heated beeswax. The Ohio Watercolor Society’s annual juried show makes an appearance in the gallery each year, as does the Hancock County Student Showcase: Advanced Student Exhibit, featuring artwork by county and city high school students in advanced art classes.
“We have just had so many different types of art here, which I think is very cool,” says Wenda Quanrud, operations director with the MCPA.
December’s exhibit, like so many others, connected viewers to far-away places they might only dream of someday visiting by way of Tokyo artist Asako Iwasawa. Her paintings depict dreamy garden scenes and ask viewers, “What do plants dream of?”
Quanrud says international artists such as Iwasawa are often referred to the gallery by Findlay native Paul Calendrillo, who owns an art gallery in New York City.
From Jan. 5 through Feb. 24, artist and Bowling Green State University professor Janet Ballweg will display a collection of prints in which inanimate, everyday objects are used to present a narrative of shared experiences.
Quanrud says exhibits are already booked through May 2020 and, since the gallery’s opening in December 2015, no artist or exhibit has been repeated — aside from the annual watercolor and student exhibits.
“There really are just a lot of fantastic artists out there,” Quanrud says.
The Fisher/Wall gallery’s existence was actually not in the original plans for the performing arts center. What became the gallery space was initially designed as an open walkway overlooking the atrium until donors Bev Fisher and Jim Wall stepped in. Quanrud says the gallery’s namesakes both felt strongly about adding a visual arts element to the community gathering place and specified that they’d like the space to feature both local and international artists.
Fisher and Wall have gone on to become some of MCPA’s most outspoken advocates, Quanrud adds.
Gallery exhibits are overseen by a committee of seven people — including Quanrud — representing a diverse cross-section of the community. In reviewing potential displays, Quanrud has found it interesting to see how an artist’s collection affects people on the committee differently, even emotionally.
Artists chosen to showcase their work at MCPA are encouraged to display smaller, more affordable pieces alongside their high-ticket items. Quanrud says most of the art displayed in the gallery is for sale, and many visitors do make purchases. One recent painting displayed by Florida artist Kevin Grass sold for $10,000, she says.
The gallery is open during normal box office hours — 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays — and one hour prior to showtime and during intermission on performance days. Its central location in Findlay makes it a simple way to slip away from the rigors of daily life during a lunch break or between classes.
The gallery space is also available for rent, and has housed board meetings and dinners, weddings, receptions and baby showers. A local yoga instructor regularly leads classes in the gallery, Clow says.
Artists wishing to display their work in the gallery may contact Quanrud at firstname.lastname@example.org for a submission form.