This July the Mazza Museum and the University of Findlay invite guests to the Lea Gallery to experience the wild side of artistic inspiration through an exhibit titled “The Enchanted Brush: Welcome to the Jungle.” On July 19, at 5 p.m. the University will host a reception with the artists from The Enchanted Brush Exhibition, an annual series curated by Dan Chudzinski, in the Lea Gallery inside the Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion.
“We’re exploring the jungle as a character,” said Chudzinski who asked the 14 artists featured to draw inspiration from their favorite jungle-themed tales. “We gave them the freedom to interpret ‘jungle’ in their own way without the influence of a publisher, director or patron.”
When guests enter the gallery, they’ll feel like they just stepped onto the set of their favorite jungle movie. One wall is completely taken over by a sculpture installation of a jungle temple inspired by Ankor Wat, an iconic temple in Cambodia often portrayed in movies like “Jumanji,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “The Jungle Book,” and others. “Many of the artists in the exhibit have contributed to the design for movies or video games and are popular all over the world,” said Chudzinski.
Featuring different media, the pieces in the exhibit capture characters like Tarzan, King Kong Shere Khan and more. Mowgli from The Jungle Book is depicted with an elephant as well as Kaa the snake by artist Linda Adair while Eric Velhagen chose to portray him with Bagheera the panther. Other tales that inspired the artists include “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Tiger’s Eye” by L. Frank Baum who is known for “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” “How the Leopard Got His Spots” by Rudyard Kipling and “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” also by Kipling. In tribute to “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” artist Rich Klink created a sculpture of a mongoose fighting a king cobra. The exhibit will also include a life-sized sculpture of a gorilla head by J. Anthony Kosar.
“The artists had the liberty to create their own narrative work, and seeing what other artists have done may help inspire their next bodies of work,” said Chudzinski. “Part of the goal of the series is to help renew people’s interests in fairy tales and children’s literature.” Last year’s exhibit paid tribute to classic fairy tales.
While “Welcome to the Jungle” is on display in the Lea Gallery, the Mazza Museum will also feature art from similar themes including three cells from Disney’s 1967 film “The Jungle Book” on display for the first time. Original illustrations from Matthew Reinhart’s “The Jungle Book” are included on a wall in the Laiho Gallery and the Wilson Gallery features artwork from picture books that fall under the theme Alphabet Safari.
“We’re educating artists by showing them what others have done,” said Chudzinski, who also serves as curator of the Mazza Museum. At the reception many of the artists will be present, and they’ll have the opportunity to see work by other artists in the exhibit as well as artists whose work is housed and cared for by the Museum.
Featured artists in “Welcome to the Jungle” include Linda Adair, Ed Binkley, Dan Chudzinski, Allen Douglas, Rich Klink, J. Anthony Kosar, Michael Manomivibul, Aaron B. Miller, Jeff Miracola, Winona Nelson, Mark Poole, Amanda Sartor, Eric Velhagen, and Jeremy Wilson. The Lea Gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and will host the exhibit through Aug. 5.