Artwork in nature on display at Fellows Gardens

Doug McLarty jokes that his wife won’t go on walks with him anymore.

That’s because the Xenia-based artist is always stopping to pick up objects he finds along the way. Those objects – leaves, flowers, berries – might then become his next work of art.

“It’s very much a discovery process, and I never know what I’m going to come up with,” said McLarty. “It’s pretty much a mystery until suddenly I see it in front of me.”

McLarty, whose work now is on display at the Weller Gallery in the D.D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center at Fellows Riverside Gardens, creates images using a high-resolution digital-scanning process called scanography.

Against black backgrounds, the objects found in nature stand out in striking, visceral detail. They’re a little whimsical, too.

For example, there’s his “Supremes” piece. Green peppers are depicted “on stage” as if they were the Diana Ross-led female singing group.

McLarty said he hopes his art encourages viewers to look at nature a little bit differently.

“There’s a certain perception zone that I think we all have. If you go to the Davis Center’s gardens and look, everyone sees the same scene of a little garden patch with some really pretty flowers,” he said.

“Then you go a little closer, and you zero in on the roses or another plant. Then you go a little closer, and you see individual leaf structure. What I want to do is have people, when they go out and look at nature, get comfortable with getting a lot closer and really look at nature from a design perspective.”

McLarty’s exhibit, “Natural Selection: Discoveries in Bloom,” is on display through Sept. 17.

Also on display at Fellows is an “Organic Steel” exhibit by local sculptor Tony Armeni. Armeni’s sculptures are placed throughout the gardens area.

Armeni, who teaches at Youngstown State University, has work on display at numerous other Youngstown locations, including the Butler Institute of American Art. He is working on a project that is being funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The term “organic” refers to the sculptures’ shapes, said Lily Martuccio, who handles graphics and promotions for Mill Creek MetroParks.

“The contrast of the hard steel, and the organic shapes that fit into the area of this outdoor gallery – it complements it,” she said.

“Trees bend, just as [Armeni] gets his work to bend.”

Armeni’s work will be on display at the Gardens through October.

Both McLarty’s and Armeni’s art is available for purchase.

For information about the exhibits, call the Gardens at 330-740-7116.


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