William Jordan is often surrounded by beautiful pieces of art. But on a recent sunny afternoon at River House Arts, the Perrysburg gallery he owns with wife Paula Baldoni, he was covered in sawdust.
Jordan was sanding large blocks of wood reclaimed from ash trees that were felled in northwest Ohio to stave off the emerald ash borer infestation. He said they were a natural fit, in every sense of that word, to serve as bases for organic-themed artwork in an upcoming exhibit.
"I feel awful about all the beautiful ash trees that have been chopped," he said, dusting himself off as he picked his way through the gallery's rooms.
The space was in a state of organized chaos as he and artist Ivan Kende, of Toledo, were setting up large leather sculptures and paintings throughout the lower level of the stately brick house on Front Street overlooking the Maumee River.
Kende will be showing his artwork in "Archetypes: Divining the Nagual" at River House Arts through the month of November.
Nagual (pronounced "na'wal") comes from pre-history mysticism and celebrates the lines of natural shapes, the elegance of living things, and the beauty of being, Jordan said.
"It's the negative space, it's the curves," Jordan mused.
Kende has a studio in the Secor Building in Toledo, where Jordan says the artist has been so long he could be considered the grandfather of the place.
"I've been there longer than most," Kende admitted.
Much of his art is on a grand scale, in size and impact. Jordan said the canoe is an important motif in Kende's work, an echo from his Hungarian parents' past as they endured the Holocaust and then victimization by the Russians in Budapest.
The canoe was a symbol of isolation and discrete escape, Jordan said. The image appears in several pieces, including a large sculpture of leather laced together and suspended in stick scaffolding and in a conte drawing of people paddling.
"Archetypes: Divining the Nagual" will be held from today through Nov. 30, with an artist reception slated for Nov. 16, at River House Arts, 115 W. Front St. Gallery. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and by appointment.
For information, call 419-874-8900 or visit www.river-house-arts.com.