Beauty in the details

CWRU art professor’s work shown in two simultaneous exhibitions

Case Western Reserve University’s own Christopher Pekoc has an exhibition on view at the Akron Art Museum.

But, considering Pekoc’s busy career, it’s no surprise that he has another exhibition going on at the exact same time. His other exhibition, “Hand Made 2,” runs through February at Tregoning & Co.

Pekoc, who teaches creative drawing at CWRU, only shows a few glimpses of his true talent to his classes. He explained that some of his earliest drawings, which can scarcely be discerned from photographs, were portraits of his neighbors.

Before Pekoc gained fame for his beautiful works, however, he worked in a much different setting, one from which he still derives much inspiration.

“When I labored in the Cleveland steel mills during my mid 20s,” Pekoc explained, “I was awed by the visually spectacular displays of steam, sparks and red-hot ingots that glowed against the backdrop of the night sky.”

Although many of his earlier works were traditional drawings, Pekoc currently works in a different medium: stitch work. Pekoc transitioned to working with this medium in the 70s and 80s, during which he created several collages made from shapes cut out from magazines. These shapes acted as sketches for future paintings.
Pekoc said that, without collaging, he could have never evolved his current stitch work technique.

“Collage is particularly accident-prone due to the fact that the individual shapes can be moved about so easily,” Pekoc elaborated. “This freedom of movement allows for a wide range of possibilities to be explored in a relatively short period of time.

“I have found this process to be very fruitful, and as a result collage has remained at the root of my creative efforts all this time,” he added.

Pekoc’s work currently features an eclectic collection of items, including gelatin silver and Xerox prints, gold and shellac, punches, blowtorches and hand sewing machines.

The products are roughened, but beautiful pieces. There is a perfect destruction in the creation of most of Pekoc’s works. Some have compared him to Frankenstein, sewing together haphazard pieces and making them work in an efficient, undeniably whole piece.

Pekoc’s studio, which is located in Tremont, is similarly experimental. Its walls are coated with pictures, sketches and the like. In the midst of this organized chaos, Pekoc creates some of his best works.

“I find that many of my ideas flow from the unexpected visual surprises that occur when an accidental arrangement of shapes takes place. These ‘happy accidents’ often yield richer results than my rational efforts”

Pekoc’s exhibition at the Akron Art Museum, “Christopher Pekoc: Hand Made,” showcases some of Pekoc’s best works yet. A particular highlight of the show is titled “Architecture of the Sky.” Largely, the piece is a half-naked blue man surrounded by insects. However, the true beauty of the piece is in the details.

The piece is composed of silver squares and rectangles stitched together as the background. The blue figure almost seems to pop out at the viewer, with a single eye boring out from a half-covered face. His hands touch at his temples, as a swarm of insects clings on to his body and flies around his head.
Of course, with everything Pekoc does, the beauty is in the details. And you’ll have to see it to judge for yourself.
The exhibition will be on view until April 26 and is free and open to the public.

Exhibition: “Christopher Pekoc: Hand Made”
Location: Akron Art Museum
Date: Now – April 26
Price: Free