By Susan Green
Gallery Lemon Grove, located in the Lemon Grove Café in downtown Youngstown, is the city’s newest space dedicated to rotating art exhibitions.
A collaboration of Jacob Harver, 27, the Lemon Grove’s owner, and local emerging artist Jimmy Hagan, 21, the gallery and inaugural exhibition exemplifies Harver’s commitment to increasing the visibility of local artists. Both are part of a group dedicated to revitalizing the city through arts and culture.
“Jacob and I talked about the gallery space and the possibility of creating a show,” says Hagan. “So I presented him with my idea, which he initially rejected, but he understood my vision and encouraged me run with it.”
Rust_Rococo is the result of Hagan’s desire to create an intimate space to bring artists and community members together.
Representing the work of eight artists, every piece selected for the show stemmed from casual conversations between Hagan and local artists on the Lemon Grove’s cozy patio. “That’s what’s so wonderful about this,” he says. “I just started talking with people about the show and everything came together. This place, this patio allowed these conversations to happen.”
Nearly all of the artists are under the age of twenty-six and all are area residents. This is the first show for photograhpers Don Attenberger, Aimee Kirby and Steve Poullas. Justin Reese, Jimmy Hagan, Leslie Cusano, Salem Reese and renowned artist James Pernotto are also represented.
According to Hagan, their work reflects a particular point of view, one that reveals a sensual aesthetic from a rusted landscape. They see industrial decay for what it is, rather than what it represents.
It’s not sentimental—they grew up in Youngstown and have no memory of the city’s industrial heyday—and it’s not something that has to be dealt with or overcome, but something to be claimed and accepted. Ownership, the conceptual, practical and functional aspects of it are central to their work and to Hagan’s vision for the gallery.
And, there’s also empowerment in the rubble.
“The work, and the space it occupies,” Hagan says, “shows us that we can own our industrial decay, enter into it, bring it under control, and then use it to create whatever we want. We’re using the past as a catalyst for moving forward.”
Rust_Rococo is on display through October 18, 2010 in the Gallery Lemon Grove, 122 W. Federal Street, Youngstown, Ohio.