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Sandusky Cultural Center says being square is cool

We talked to Sandusky Cultural Center Director Charles T. Mayer about the center's new art exhibit "Squared."
John Benson
Dec 31, 2012

"Squared" is a specialty display centered around artist/designer Noah Scalin, who is the creator of the Webby Award-winning daily art project Skull-A-Day. The Virginia-based visionary’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally including the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia and the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago. Scalin, whose first book, “Skulls,” was honored by the New York Public Library and as a “Top Ten Pick for Reluctant Teen Readers,” recently released “365: A Daily Creativity Journal.”

Want to go?
WHAT: "Squared"
WHEN: Opening event: 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6; Exhibit runs Jan. 6-Feb. 10
WHERE: Sandusky High School, 2130 Hayes Ave., Sandusky
INFO: 419-625-1188 or visit sanduskyculturalcenter.org

As far as “Squared” is concerned, other artists showing off their work include Ken Arthur, Bob Bruch, Rich Cihlar, Daniel Corrigan, Jim Giar, Jon Gott. Josh Haplea, Nina Vivian Huryn, Don Izold, Mike Kozumplik, Michael J. Mikula, Paul Robertson, Andrew Shannon, Rachel Strongoli, Emily Sullivan-Smith, Omid Tavakoli, Josh Usmani, Jennifer Whitten, Mark Yasenchack and Jeff Yost.

Funcoast talked to Sandusky Cultural Center Director Charles T. Mayer about the vision behind “Squared.”

Funcoast: Let’s just jump right in. What exactly is the idea behind “Squared?”
Charles Mayer (CM): We have 21 artists and they’ve all been asked to change the format in which they work to some variation on a square or cube so all dimensions are the same with height, width and depth. They range from blown glass to painting to sculpture. It’s all over the place as far as the media are concerned. But the big deal is that we have invited Noah Scalin, a well-known author within his niche. He did the skull book and he did two new books. So he’ll be coming the opening day and speaking during a presentation.

Funcoast: Why is having Scalin attached to “Squared” important?
CM: He became a friend because we had him three years ago and we kept in touch, but he’s much more expensive than he was then. He’s much better known. He did a series of paintings of skulls, which were all on squares. I think he did 100 of them, all different. We’ll have a good selection of them since he’s one of the exhibiting artists. His whole idea is jumpstarting people’s creativity by working in series. So he’ll talk on that and how one thing leads logically to another rather than jumping all over the place and doing a cow today and a daisy the next day. He encourages people to work steadily and that was all inspired by doing the skull a day. He actually did some image of a skull every day for a year.

Funcoast: As for the many other artists you have attached to “Squared,” whose work are you excited to see?
CM: About half of them are people we had on more than one occasion before. One of our newer artists is Michael J. Mikula, who is nationally known in blown glass, and blown glass artists are somewhat harder to come by because it takes a lot of skill and ability to do anything with blown glass. He has a small series of cup-like forms. Cups are usually round and his are roundish in the inside but squared on the outside. And they have beautiful combinations of blown and cast glass textures. I’m excited to have him again. We had him a long time ago, maybe 10 years ago.

Funcoast: Why are you asking artists to work out of their comfort zone?
CM: It always kind of jumpstarts creativity. If you have parameters than you have some restrictions. It’s like a puzzle to solve a little bit. I think it emphasizes a little different part of your creative brain because you have to solve a problem.

Funcoast: Finally, it always seems as though the Sandusky Cultural Center is asking both artists and art lovers to come out of their comfort zone. Why is that?
CM: We always try to encourage artists to do work that may be a little bit outside of their comfort zone. Just because I think it stretches people. It stretches our viewers as well. They shouldn’t come to the Cultural Center and expect the same old thing every time.

“Squared” will have it's opening with Noah Scalin on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m. at Sandusky High School, 2130 Hayes Ave., Sandusky. Scalin's books will be available for purchase and signing after the talk. The exhibit runs Jan. 6 through Feb. 10 at Sandusky High School, for more information, call 419-625-1188 or visit sanduskyculturalcenter.org.