There was a bit of a January thaw this week, but it was short-lived. Winter reappeared quickly with all its drama and bluster, so cooking up a batch of eco print magic served as a little diversion. Using previously gathered leaves was like conjuring autumn!


A stock pot holds a stack of layered alum-soaked paper and leaves on a steamer rack; a brick keeps everything weighted down.



Besides the cache of oak, maple and tulip leaves, there were some flowers from a Christmas bouquet of stock, which yielded the most surprising prints.



First Night Akron 2018 Button by Alison Brouse

It may have been extra chilly outdoors, but plenty of revelers warmed up at Summit Artspace. DJ Ace Epps spun the tunes while visitors let the music be their inspiration for some creative fun. Artists Miriam Daniel, Nikki Bartel and Megan Milvet facilitated the painting experience throughout the evening.

spin and paint

first night akron 2018

In addition to the painting party on the third floor, the Illusion Factory presented a new take on The Emperor’s New Clothes in the second floor event space, while the first floor galleries hosted the Kaleidoscope exhibit and Pat Catan’s mask making.

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. . . a partridge!

peace, love and a partridge

partridge letterpress cards
Letterpress holiday cards; pear tree not included.

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basement hibiscus

Once again, the overwintering hibiscus provides some warmth and color to a basement that is normally devoid of both – and just in time for the holidays!

Maybe it was inspiration (or guilt) brought on by the Sugar Plum Tour or maybe it was feeling up to the challenge of tackling the attic crawlspace, but, after several years of minimal December decor, I decided to deck the halls. Although Christmas arrived before the tree came out of hiding, I did manage to brighten up the house with some old favorites.





the printer

relief print by Betty Curtice Taylor
c. 1940 while at Central High School, Akron, Ohio
included in Thanks, Betty! at Summit Artspace, now in my collection

It is fairly certain that Betty’s inspiration was her father, a printer by trade. I am enamored with the details of this letterpress scene: the light, the platen, the rollers and the stack of paper.

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Ginkgo + Petunia/A Woman + the Sky
mixed media


If you are reading this at Summit Artspace in the autumn of 2017, you are now part of a collective appreciation for the dedication of one woman and the difference she made in the lives of those she touched. Contemplate the artwork, talk with artists and visitors, be inspired – and thank Betty Taylor for the passion that helped make this gallery and art center a reality!

Longtime peace activists, Betty and Howard Taylor were strong supporters of local artists. It was my good fortune to have known them both. I will remember Howard for his quiet commitment and Betty for her optimistic persistence.

A note about my artwork: Every spring I add some purple petunias to my windowboxes as a little homage to the Taylors’ choice of annual plantings; never have I considered planting a ginkgo, after hearing their tales of the yearly clean-up! And the woman and the sky – that’s Betty!

~ Joan Colbert 2017

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Longtime arts/artists advocate and peace activist, Betty Taylor, died on April 10, 2017. It was an honor and a pleasure to be a part of Thanks, Betty! This One’s for You, an exhibit of artwork by artists who had a connection to Betty alongside a display of Betty’s own work, some dating back to the late 1930s.

gallery view – artists’ work

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gallery view – work by Betty Taylor
left to right: ink drawing and watercolors, Central High School, Akron, Ohio c. 1939/1940; gallery design drawings, University of Akron; various prints, Central High School

Read about the tribute exhibition in this cleveland.com article along with the following excerpt from the press release:

“Summit Artspace is proud to honor this champion for the arts and local artists with a tribute exhibition. Betty was a unique individual. She loved the arts and wanted to make sure there was a support network to nurture artists and also to give the community ways to appreciate the talent that resides here,” said Kamelia Fisher, executive director of Summit Artspace and a co-curator of the exhibit.

Artist Joan Colbert, a long-time friend of Taylor, is also curating the show. “In 1978 there were few venues or opportunities for area artists to connect with the public. Betty felt that was something she and the newly-formed Artists of Rubber City could change. For nearly four decades that remained the mission. Throughout years of only incremental progress Betty’s enthusiasm seldom waned. Her persistence and encouragement are evidenced in the existence of both Summit Artspace and The BOX Gallery,” Colbert explained.

Taylor passed away at 93 years old in April of this year. Her connection, vision and persistence are linked to Summit Artspace’s history and success. Her dream for a gallery for all local artists was realized when she helped found Summit Artspace in 2002.

She was also one of the original members of Artists of Rubber City, founded in 1978, and the Alliance for the Visual Arts, founded in 2001. Artists of Rubber City remains housed in Summit Artspace and operates The BOX Gallery and The Small BOX Gallery. AVA hosts the highly- anticipated annual Kaleidoscope show which draws work from AORC, Cuyahoga Valley Art Center and historic Akron art organizations, the Women’s Art League of Akron and Akron Society of Artists.

Taylor and her late husband, Howard, were honored with the “Arts Alive!” Volunteer Award by the Akron Area Arts Alliance (now Summit Artspace) in 2003. She had degrees in Biology and Sculpture and a certification in Interior Design, all from The University of Akron.

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Herbal Roulette
relief print

“Amateurs fooling with plants in the parsley family are playing herbal roulette.”  Steven Foster and James A. Duke, A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants 

The sprawling Apiaceae family of plants inspires a recent addition to the As Potent as a Charm series of poisonous botanicals, Herbal Roulette. Although commonly known as the parsley or carrot family, relatives include poison hemlock and other miscreants, leading one botanist to refer to fooling with plants in this family as playing “herbal roulette.” 

Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae), commonly known as the parsley family of plants, is the sixteenth largest family of flowering plants, containing 3700 species. Members include both culinary favorites and infamous poisons.

from top, clockwise beginning at Socrates’ goblet:

Hemlock  Conium maculatum
Rattlesnake Master Eryngium yuccifolium
Parsley  Petroselenum crispum
Water Hemlock  Cicuta maculata
Coriander, Cilantro  Coriadrum sativum
Black Sanicle, Snakeroot  Sanicula marilandica
Fool’s Parsley  Aethursa cynapium
Celery  Apium graveolens
Carrot  Daucus carota
Cow Parsnip  Heracleum lanatum
Queen Anne’s Lace  Daucus carota
Angelica  Angelica atropurpurea

2017herbalroulette_ne_scarab   2017herbalroulette_se_cricket
detail views including the ‘corner crows’

Look for Herbal Roulette in Akron’s upcoming High Arts Festival.

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The circle of herbs has been cut for weeks, but there’s one slight hold-up. Actually, not one, but four, as in four corners, one per block and, realistically, it’s not been a slight hold-up either. Normally I would have an idea of the overall design of a piece before I even start carving. This time I focused on the circular portion and, for a brief time, considered stopping with the round layout. Apparently I wasn’t really committed to a parsley family mandala, hence the four blocks sat in the studio waiting. And then along came the corner crows, ready to preside over what is now titled Herbal Roulette!   


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