Artists share their uncommon talents at annual show

By Sean Barron


While some people have mastered the art of spin for political reasons, Gwen E. Brown has done so for artistic reasons.

“It’s a good way to blend different colors and materials together,” the Hubbard woman said, referring to her style of using homespun yarn and fleece to create a multitude of patterns and items to sell.

On Sunday, Brown, who owns Hubbard-based Gwen Erin Brown Natural Fibers, was selling a variety of cuffs, gloves, bracelets and other merchandise she made from yarn and wool during the annual Artists of the Mahoning Commons and Friends Art Show and Sale at the Ward Bakery building, 1024 Mahoning Ave. on the West Side.

The event continues from noon to 5 p.m. next Saturday and Sunday in the Ward building.

Part of Brown’s technique sees her using a crank to send wool through a drumcarder, a wooden machine covered with sharp, overlapping pins of varying sizes that comb and shape the material. From there, Brown braids, flattens, folds and separates the wool, she explained.

Instead of wool, hand-painted silk scarves, quilted pillows and prints make up Tracy Segreti’s artistic line.

“I used to do printmaking, so I love things that are detailed and patterned,” said Segreti, of Austintown, who enhances her work with a special dye for silk.

Segreti, who began drawing, using pastels and sewing as a child, recalled having attended a trade show about 20 years ago in which she was introduced to silk painting. Despite having earned a degree in graphic design and printmaking from Youngstown State University, Segreti is largely self-taught, she continued.

If asked to describe a carmel latte, most people probably would instantly conjure an image of the popular deeply-roasted espresso drink with steamed milk and swirls.

But ask Noreen Yazvac and you might be in for quite a different take.

“In this painting, I used coffee grounds,” said Yazvac, referring to a piece of artwork she titled “Carmel Latte Skies,” which also includes wax.

She used a technique called encaustic, in which colored pigments are mixed with wax and each layer is fused with a heat gun or iron.

In 2006, Yazvac, whose main mediums are acrylics, watercolors and mixed media, earned a bachelor’s degree in art history from YSU. She also works at the university as an administrative assistant, she said.

In addition, Yazvac often uses material called yupo, which is recyclable, synthetic sheeting paper that’s smooth and lends itself well to watercolor paintings, she explained.

Regardless of the material or means, though, art has been in her blood since childhood.

“I can’t get enough,” she added. “When you’re an artist, it just has to come out.”

Art also comes out of Eric Alleman of Youngstown, who uses it largely as a form of self-expression but shuns categorizing it.

The self-trained visual artist and former playwright uses stencils, acrylics, sponges, rollers and brushes to create portraits of people who have been major influences on him. Those include David Lynch, who is perhaps best known for directing surrealist films such as “Blue Velvet” and “The Elephant Man,” as well as Chris Yambar, a local comic-book writer and pop artist, he noted.

Alleman is a relatively new artist, having begun about eight years ago portrait paintings of those he feels do what’s right without making apologies or offering explanations, he continued.

“Art has no schedule or time constraints. I’m in the educational, experimental phase,” Alleman said, adding that he was selling prints for $20 apiece as well as framed works for $30 to $50 each.

Alleman shares his studio with Gabriel Crish, a photographer and one of his cousins.

The art show also features handmade items such as colorful pendants, ceramic bowls and cups, an assortment of jewelry, soaps and lotions, a large variety of prints and Christmas ornaments.

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