On a giant square of red felt, Chris Rom places nearly 200 stoneware "coins" on carefully spaced nails.
Each 2 1/2-inch ceramic coin is swirled with the natural color of clay, creating hypnotic patterns that are emphasized by the vibrant red background. The artwork aims to mesmerize the viewer's logical brain and open the creative mind, says Ms. Rom, 33, of Swanton. Coin Collection sells for $5,000.
She and collaborator/husband, Geoff Buddie, 34, have a smaller, similar piece in striking black and white. Overhead, their three mobiles dangle small balls, cones, and ovals of soft felt in wonderful colors. "They inspire a sense of wonder," Buddie says.
Rom and Buddie are among 30 young artists featured in an energetic exhibit, "It's All Relative ...," which opens tonight with a reception from 7 to 10 in Space 237 gallery in downtown Toledo.
A few weeks ago, the couple were honored with the artists' choice award from a field of 175 entrants at the CraftBoston show where they exhibited.
After making functional pottery for about eight years, Rom and Buddie began buying 30-pound "bumps" of New Zealand wool at $7 a pound. Shaping it requires pounding and soaking in hot water. They also dye the fiber.
The couple met in high school art class in Cleveland and earned art degrees at Bowling Green State University.
"We appreciate the same aesthetic," says Buddie.
Adds Rom: "Working together has really added to our marriage. You have to learn to compromise, and give up things. These [artworks] would be like our children."
The hip gallery's spring show features more than 150 pieces. It takes its title from the fact that many of the creators are related to or know one another. The exhibit runs through June 3.
Jenn Buddie, sister to Geoff, shows her cubist paintings and bronze figures in tormented, shifting shapes.
Mother-daughter Jaci and Danielle Crissman work with metal. Danielle's freestanding copper pieces are stunners. Made with a technique known as "raising" metal that begins with a flat piece of metal that's hammered and heated, her large, leafy bowl ($8,000) has a beautiful patina. It balances, almost magically off-center, on a slender bifurcated stand.
In a shelved case in the hallway, Jaci Crissman's metal and mixed-media jewelry is lovely wearable art.
Funny and wonderful are Jerod Christy's sculptural pieces: his gargantuan utility broom, with hundreds of metal bristles, and his hat rack with shoes.
Hali Lynne, 237 Space's exhibition coordinator, displays her intriguing Aquasitic, a large rectangular work centered on an amoeba-like entity, made from clay, photographs, and acrylics. It speaks to the essential value of water, she says.
Space 237 Galleries & Studios presents its spring exhibition, "It's All Relative ..." beginning with an opening reception from 7 to 10 p.m. today in the gallery, 237 North Michigan St. in downtown Toledo. The exhibition runs through June 3. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Information: 419-255-5117.
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