About the Art

May 18 – August 01, 2011
Public Gallery

Sankofa Fine Art Plus is a nonprofit community arts organization founded in January, 1999 by a group of art enthusiasts who shared a passion for African American ethnic art and artists.  Understanding there are limited opportunities for ethnic art and artists in mainstream venues, co-founders created Sankofa Fine Art Plus. 

The organization’s mission is to develop and advocate for ethnic artists and present ethnic art as a credible and meaningful art form through community education and collaboration.  Their purpose is to contribute to the art and culture of the African-American community and other ethnic groups through a climate that will recognize diversity in ethnic art and its artistic expressions.

The goal of Sankofa is to increase community awareness and appreciation of the rich history and tradition of “fine ethnic art” by creating opportunities that will support emerging and aspiring ethnic artists; developing educational opportunities and cultural events that will provide significant exposure and support of ethnic art and artists.

The theme of this exhibition is, "Sankofa: Learning from the past, looking toward the future."  The selected artists were encouraged to reflect upon their past personal experiences and how mistakes may have affected their lives.   The selected artists’ images reflect their approach to life and art differently as a result of their experiences.

The following artists’ works showcase both their past experience as well as their progressive action forward.   For more information about Sankofa Fine Art Plus and the exhibiting artists, please visit their website at www.SankofaFineArtPlus.org.

Artist Details

Donald Black, Jr.

Donald Black, Jr. began his formal art education in the fourth grade at Cleveland School of the Arts (CSA). His early years at CSA afforded him the opportunity to experiment with multiple art forms including dance and instrumental music. However, it was not long before he unearthed his passion for photography. Driven by the unique properties of the medium and the voice that it afforded him, he decided to concentrate solely on receiving instruction in this area.

He furthered his pursuit of photography at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication in Athens, Ohio. There he studied commercial photography and obtained his Bachelor of Science in Commercial Photography. In 2002, he was awarded the Kodak Scholarship for Outstanding Photographer at Ohio University. He was the first-ever African American to receive this prestigious award. Donald Black Jr. has received many distinguished awards for his photography, including the 2007 International Nikon Award, third place for his work entitled “Self Imprisonment.” His work has been displayed in multiple exhibitions throughout Northeast Ohio, New York, NY, and Atlanta, GA. He was also included in the 2006 exhibition Silent Voices, Loud Echoes at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, PA.   Please visit Black’s website at www.donaldblackjr.com for more information.

Jack Coville

Jack Coville is a Cleveland artist born and reared in Northeast Ohio and has been a working artist for 39 years.  Mr. Coville received special mention for his paintings from Dr. Sherman E. Lee, Director, at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s “May Show”.  Coville’s paintings are abstract images inspired from nature primarily and executed on canvas or paper.  His work has been featured in the Nelson Rockefeller Collection, Palm Springs, California and is included in private collections in America and in England and Australia.  Mr. Coville’s academe includes a B.F.A degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and a M.F.A. degree from Edinboro University in Edinboro, Pennsylvania.  Coville is a featured artist at Artist Review Today.

Gabriel Gonzalez

Gabriel Gonzalez was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico in 1980. His family moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1984 where he grew up in the West 25th and Clark Avenue area. He attended High School at Cleveland School of the Arts and graduated in 1999 and received a National Gold Award from the Scholastics Art and Writing Awards in his senior year. After graduating Gonzalez became a new face in the Cleveland art scene and exhibited his photography in many galleries throughout Cleveland. In 2002 he became an Artist in Residence at Cleveland School of the Arts and honored as a gifted educator by the Scholastics Art and Writing Awards. He also received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for his outstanding teaching abilities from former Congresswoman, Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

Gonzalez continued his education at Ohio University where he studied Art and Photography. At Ohio University, Gabriel was voted president of the Hip-Hop Congress; a non-profit, grassroots organization that help join the community through the arts. After returning to Cleveland, Gonzalez continued to educate others at the Cleveland School of the Arts and in his community. On August 12, 2009 Gabriel received The Representative Marcia L. Fudge Distinguished Citizens Award. This honor is to recognize those individuals who have made valuable contributions to the community through their professions.

Vincent Irizarry

Vincent Irizarry, also known as Viso, was born in Ohio City on October 18, 1954 soon after his family arrived from Puerto Rico.  Growing up in Ohio City, Vincent saw many changes in the neighborhood; from the not so nice area just over the bridge from downtown to the super hip urban styling it is known for today.  Many of these urban influences can be seen in his artwork.  Viso has been painting since childhood where he attended classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art.  The experience instilled in him the principles and skills he would need to utilize his talents.  Viso has been able to create mixed-media art wonders and shows no signs of slowing down. 

Ronnie Pyles

Ronnie Pyles is a native of Cleveland, Ohio.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Kentucky State University, as well as a professional designation in Public Relations from UCLA’s extension program. Ronnie had an extensive career in modeling, which ultimately led to his interest in photography.

While spending some of his modeling career in Europe, he developed an appreciation for architecture.  However, it was when he returned to Cleveland that he began to turn his new love of photography into a new career.  His first project was photographing the old abandoned buildings in the flats.  Since then, photographing architecture in black and white has been his primary interest.  Ronnie’s main goal is for people to enjoy his work as much as he does. 

Jennifer Wilkinson Rynbrandt

Jennifer Wilkinson Rynbrandt is originally a native of the Washington, D.C. area.  A Gerontologist by profession, she has painted in her free time since 1999.  Jennifer has sold numerous original oils, acrylics, and gicleé prints to patrons, and has made art donations to various schools and civic groups.

Jennifer's work is fresh and playful, colorful and fluid.  Her liberal use of paint and brushwork, lend a truly unique opportunity to own art with a distinct and lively personality. 

Paul Shuster

Paul Shuster was born in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio in 1966 and began painting at the age of 25. In the twenty years since, Paul has continued to paint with unrelenting abandon.  His paintings range from well-rendered representations of the human form to studies of everyday objects.  All of Paul’s canvases are painted in a highly modern manner and each tells a story.  Along with his paintings, Paul has also created 14 Murals and Public Art Commissions.  His works decorate many restaurants and bars, offices and homes throughout northeast Ohio. 

Irene M. Sukle

Irene M. Sukle was one of Northeast Ohio’s most beloved Artist. She passed on Halloween of 2008 and left a vast legacy of art work behind in numerous mediums.

Sukle created six of the guitars for the Guitarmania fund-raising project. The guitars she designed were auctioned to benefit the Save the Music Foundation of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and United Way Services of Greater Cleveland. Prior to the auctions, they were enjoyed as public art throughout downtown Cleveland.   She was the only area artist to create two guitars each during the three years (2002, 2004 and 2007) of the project.  Four of the guitars were reproduced as miniatures and sold around the world.

In 2007, she created two of the pig sculptures during the Chinese Year of the Pig and a rat sculpture for the Year of the Rat public art projects. Both sculptures were on public display throughout Chinatown and the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood.

Sukle taught at West Geauga Schools for 42 years until she was diagnosed with cancer in August, 2008. She was a board certified art teacher and her artwork was included in many Northeast Ohio public arts projects and exhibited in several area leading art galleries. 

A native of Cleveland and graduate of John Adams High School, Sukle received her bachelor's and master's degrees in art and secondary education from Kent State University.  She also studied at Cooper School of Art, Cleveland Institute of Art, both in Cleveland, Ohio and the Art Institute of Charleston in Charleston, S.C.

Angelos Vlahos

Angelos Vlahos, photography has been Angelo’s passion for over 30 years.  Each photo is skillfully enhanced and created to be a piece of art. Angelo delights the senses by presenting something familiar in an extraordinary fashion.  With vibrancy of color, often with an unusual combination and a weaving of more than one image, painting and various other ways his work stands out.  He has worked in various fields.  For more information please visit his website at www.fotodimensions.com.

José Vasquez

Most of José V's art is created on canvas and copy paper with ink pens and "Sharpies". Other media José V uses includes acrylic, water and oil based paints, Indian ink, heavy gel, foam and caulk.  Many pieces have also been enhanced with sand, sea shells, glitter, rhinestones and sequins.

José V has had no formal art training.  He has always enjoyed drawing in his spare time and has a natural talent for combining color schemes and designs. It wasn't until the summer of 2006 that he was encouraged to take his art seriously.  In 1996, José was employed as a Monitor Technician where he began learning cardiac related issues and the rhythms of the heart. While at work, a patient whose rhythms became critical, inspired José to create a drawing using electro-cardiographic rhythms for the lines. His first creation brought some enthusiastic comments from his co-workers; it was a heart with a series of heads each one smaller than the other in a sequential manner indicating full life to a slow death. The drawing quickly became a favorite and earned its place on T-shirts that are now available to the public.  Those lines have become his trademark. Artistic painting had been a long-desired dream for José.  For more information and to purchase his art, please visit his website at www.cardioartjose.com.

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