A visit to The Butler Institute of American Art and its branches in Salem and Howland Township this summer promises a wide variety of experiences for art lovers of all ages and interests. From high-tech, digital masterworks to traditional paint media, as well as the work of local talents, the Butler offers its visitors a number of challenging visual experiences -- art that is at once wonderful, and which might also cause one to wonder.
Exhibits: On the cutting edge is the Butler's Beecher Center installation of the internationally renowned video artist Bill Viola, titled "Threshold." In this sight/sound installation, current news scrolls across an electronic display sign with up-to-date reports on the daily events of the world.
The direct feeds runs live from the Reuters news service on a lighted sign similar to that seen in New York's Rockefeller Plaza display. The illuminated text is harsh and bright.
Dividing the text is an open black doorway that leads into a dark inner room. Inside this room, three large, dim, black-and-white projections of people's faces appear on the walls. The incredible recorded sound of regular breathing can be heard in the darkness.
Occasionally, one of the figures moves or shifts position but remains asleep, an unconscious presence existing beneath the incessant flow of worldly events.
Also on view in the Beecher Center is the site-specific installation by Cleveland artist Carol Adams titled "Stimulated Emission." This long-running show has been updated and redesigned in past weeks, and will soon include elements of video/holographic effects.
The work is a synthesis of materials -- traditional artist's mediums including enamel, fiber, fabric metals and wood -- interwoven with the intense light derived from lasers, neon and LED technologies.
One fascinating material is the "cool wire" woven over the gallery walls, a material first used in the control panels of aircraft. The Carol Adams work includes two musical pieces titled "Thermo Synthesis" and "Pyrolangia Excerpt," both composed and produced by Ron Slabe of Pyrosonic Company of Kent.
Also on view this summer is "Rimini," a new work designed for the Beecher Center's Novak Gallery by Pittsburgh travel photographer Dennis Marisco. The 30-foot digital photographic mural, a beach scene of Rimini, Italy (the birthplace of film legend Federico Felini) was printed through a computer interface with the new, state-of-the-art Epson inkjet printer.
Accompanying the digital work is a virtual reality screen of the image, which moves through the scene through all 360 degrees of viewing area.
Holograms by British artist Patrick Boyd continue to astonish visitors to the Beecher Center. Born in Chelsea, London, in 1960, Boyd was a Fulbright Scholar, and later an artist in residence at New York City's Museum of Holography.
His work focuses upon holograms as a documentary medium, a record of events and scenes of everyday life. Boyd's stereograms, which are mini-movies etched holographically in glass, are considered the most accomplished works of holography in the world. The show is on view through September.
Traditional: Those who prefer traditional art media will not be disappointed by Butler summer exhibits. On July 1, the very popular annual Butler Midyear painting show will open. A reception to honor Midyear artists will occur July 14. Call (330) 743-1711, ext. 123, for information.
Also opening that day will be an exhibition of beautiful pastel landscape compositions by Wolf Kahn. Of interest to lovers of realist work is the current Butler Trumbull branch exhibition of landscapes by Tony Bennett.
On view at the Butler in Salem beginning this week will be works by members of the Salem Area Arts Guild. The annual exhibition features works in all media by some very talented members of the long-established Salem organization. For information about an opening reception call (330) 332-8213.
XButler hours in Youngstown are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Hours at the Trumbull branch are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Salem branch hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Admission to all facilities is free.