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Futuristic cyborgs made from scrap steel and plein air paintings of gardens and magical islands are on display in Group Ten Gallery's new Guest Artist exhibit featuring rising sculptor Michael Marras, pastel painter Kim Moore and watercolorist Chris Leeper. The opening reception is from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday.
Marras, a young sculptor from Akron, is stepping back into the public eye after a two year hiatus doing commissioned work for the city of Akron. Some of his rusted metal sculptures are on display at the gallery.
"Its been two and a half years since I've shown," Marras said. "I did a big metal tree sculpture in Akron. Overall that was a two to three year project. I got public funding for that and that was my first public sculpture."
Marras's sculpture "Pitts of Woodruff" is a villainous character from his unpublished screenplay set 50 years in the future.
"Its been fun working these characters into modern times," said Marras, who has a degree in computer animation. "One of the favorite artists is H.R. Giger (Alien). I've always been inspired by his work. That would be a dream of mine to come full circle and go back into what my education is."
Marras nearly sold his entire collection at an exhibit at Gallery 15 in Akron. The sculptures on display are all that's left from the original cast and most have never been on exhibit before.
"I'm going to get away from this particular style of finish, so this is probably going to be one of the last times I'm going to show this style," Marras said. "I'm getting into a new body of work. I'm really excited. It's going to be completely different. It will be more finished looking."
Marras told the story behind a damaged looking steel robot sitting on a tree stump in the gallery's entrance.
"The idea is there's big giant machines out cutting all our trees down and this guy would be an autonomous robot that would go out and fix machines when they're broken," Marras said. "His leg was damaged, so he sat down on a log and was waiting to be repaired and it just never happened. He slowly just ran out of power and rusted up. Then these little kids showed up and started spray painting on him."
Marras attributes his wild imagination to his childhood baby sitter who once told him he had the best imagination in the world.
"I always remember that," Marras said. "Its always made me very conscious of what I say to children. Children love my work and I love that they do. I always try to say most positive things if a kid comes in and wants to do this because it could depend on what I might say to them whether or not they think they could."
Marras grew up in Firestone Park in Akron. He dropped out of college to sell his art at traveling music and arts festivals. He earned a degree in computer animation at Full Sail University in Orlando, FL.
Leeper, of Canfield, is a full-time artist and adjunct faculty in the Department of Art at Youngstown State University. He has illustrated four children's books for the Smithsonian and the African Wildlife Foundation.
Moore majored in fine arts at the University of Akron. She enjoys painting en plein air in many locations in Europe and Australia and has become a part of the rich tradition of artists who have painted on the magical Monhegan Island in Maine.
He miraculously changed gender in the last paragraph.