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Roger von Golling
Cleveland native and artist Roger von Golling will have his first-ever solo exhibition with the help of Gary Thomas, a friend and founder of Ohio City Pasta, in the first-ever show for a new art space, Sixty Bowls Gallery
"The Appearance of Art" opens on Friday, March 24 from 5 to 9 p.m, is on view again on Saturday during the same hours, and then by appointment through May.
The building used to house Ohio City Pasta until 2017. Thomas began renovating the space a year and a half ago in anticipation of turning it into a gallery.
“We talked about it a long time ago, almost 20 years ago, but I just wasn’t in a position to do it,” said Thomas. “This used to be my pasta shop and I moved, and this was empty, and I just felt like it's paid for and it’s a nice spot. It’s a passion project. I would like to expose Roger. I think he’s good, he’s undiscovered. He’s never had a show and I think it would be nice if he had a show, It’s that simple really.”
Thomas, has known von Golling since he was a teenager when they worked together at the Burgess Grand Café, when von Golling was in Cleveland in 1987.
During the '90s, von Golling created backdrops, handbills, covers for 45s and albums for local bands, including Lucky Pierre, System 56, Prick and The Wreckyard for Nothing/Interscope Records. From here von Golling began developing a cult appreciation for his art.
Thomas was only expecting around 20 pieces or so when he took his Honda truck to Beverly, Massachusetts to pick up work for the show, but was inundated with over 300 works which von Golling kept pulling out of corners and closets.
“I do stuff, since the band thing is over," said von Golling “and just throw it in the closet where it rots. Gary Thomas put a stop to all this and excavated said closet."
“He uses Gesso, pastel crayons, oil crayons, pencil charcoal,” said Thomas. “He’s more of a drawer and not so much of painter per se but he does have some paintings, but the majority of his work are works on paper.”
von Golling’s work is energetic, intuitive, sporadic, experimental, engaging the viewer visually, psychologically, and spiritually. Some read as abstract landscapes, some as complex circulatory systems or aerial views of uncharted terrains, and some like expanded journal entries.
There is a certain controlled abandon which comes with years of decisiveness in making art. The work is unique, unpretentious and inspiring in its whimsy while fearless in its exploration.
von Golling’s piece "Kanoe" is on 6 pieces of paper created with mixed media, and assembled measures 6’ x 8’. It has flavors of Wassily Kandinsky, Picasso and even some Jackson Pollock.
"Kanoe" is playful and vigorous. The lines are shot across the page like spider webs. Some of the indistinct forms resemble the floral patterns of long-stemmed irises or hand bones, loosely colored with earth tones and spackled with swaths of cool white gesso against a cream-colored background. von Golling knows how to give us just enough information to let our imaginations go wild while holding back enough to keep the viewer ruminating.
"'Kanoe' is just for identification purposes," he said. "Yes, I see a bird's- eye view of a canoe, I suppose, and that's fun, and I play around with the natural human instinct to see faces in the tree, but it's really about a record of my feelings and about the abstract philosophy of art and how can we make something meaningful of it all, not just decoration.”
77-year-old von Golling was born in Cleveland Heights in 1946 and raised in nearby Lakewood. He attended Ohio University, studying English Literature. He traveled extensively throughout the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s and has lived in San Francisco, Miami, New York, Boston, and D.C. before ending up in Beverly, Massachusetts working at Endicott College for the last 20 years or so where he is still cooking and making art.