View of Akron at Sunrise from the PNC Rooftop, 2019
Commissioned by Summa Health
Materials: pastel and interference acrylic on Arches paper, 36" x 26.”
Location at Summa Health: Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Tower on the Akron Campus (141 N. Forge St.), fifth floor, hallway outside patient rooms H5-121 and H5-122.
This view from the roof of the PNC building in downtown Akron was commissioned by Summa Health on the basis of the artist’s stunning series of paintings and drawings of views from observation decks around New York City (exhibited in 2018). Together with this new work for Summa Health, these paintings form the beginning of Ibojka Friedman’s series, Urban Aerial Studies from around the World, the ambition and parameters of which are expressed in its title. The raised viewpoint is common to all, as is the artist’s deftness in capturing — first with her camera and then working from those photos in the studio — the distinctive features of a cityscape.
In this painting, we recognize Akron’s roads, buildings, landscape elements, all presented with an economy of means and the energy of abstraction. We can see how Friedman lays on color in broad, thin washes with water-soluble wax pastels and interference paint. Those uncolored areas, where her confident drawing is evident, are equally interesting and draw the eye with lines that suggest, without being excessive, profiles and groupings of forms that arrest our attention. She is expert at capturing the essence of complicated architecture and spatial relationships that we can enjoy particularly from this elevated perspective, and she chooses colors for them in ways that refer to her own emotional responses to the same view.
Friedman (née Toth) spent her formative years alternating regularly between Eastern Europe, where some of her family still live, and Northeast Ohio. She says that art has provided her with the means of reconciling what often felt in life like irreconcilable opposites, “sudden rounds of confusion in which language and social structure totally subverted what I had just learned on the opposite side of the Atlantic.” She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Myers School of Art at the University of Akron and a Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University, majoring in painting and drawing at both. She has worked as an arts manager and marketer as well as a curator and maintains a studio in Cleveland.
Where you can see more of this artist’s work:
Friedman's website contains a blog and other writings. She has exhibited widely in northeast Ohio as well as in Atlanta, Tampa, Santa Monica (Calif.), and Wichita (Kan.), among others. Her work is represented by galleries in Akron and Cleveland.