Monday, April 13, 2015

JoAnn DePolo: 2015 Featured Artist at the Governor's Residence

First Lady Launches Seasonal Art Display at Governor’s Residence
Story originally published in The Hannah Report on April 9, 2015.  Copyright 2015 Hannah News Service, Inc.

Ohio’s First Lady Karen Kasich chose the paintings on display in the governor’s residence for their “bright” and “bold brushstrokes,” appreciating the cityscapes of a place she likes to visit -- Cleveland. 

As part of her office’s partnership with the Ohio Arts Council to select state artists and feature their pieces in the home of Ohio’s governors, Kasich chose painter JoAnn DePolo of North Olmstead for her acrylic artwork, announcing the art display Thursday.

The “Spotlight: Featured Artists at the Ohio Governor’s Residence” program names four different Ohio artists throughout the year to represent his or her talent in the mansion, and DePolo was Kasich’s top choice out of 46 finalists selected by the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) for the spring quarter.

Five of DePolo’s acrylic paintings, her medium of choice, capture what she calls the vividness of her home area of Cleveland and what the city has to offer Ohio. 

“Cleveland is pretty hot right now. There’s a lot happening, there’s a lot of renovations going on, and I think this is sort of another piece of the puzzle to bring Cleveland into the spotlight visually in a different way, in a unique way,” she said, noting every artist has a special way to interpret their city.

Kasich said she and Gov. John Kasich have been increasingly impressed with the wealth of talented Ohioans, prompting the “Spotlight” program. She noted the more than 8,000 people who visit the Ohio governor’s residence can see the exhibited art.

“One of the things that really caught my eye about JoAnn’s work was the bright use of colors, her bold brushstrokes, her layering of the acrylics,” Kasich said. “It just all really took me to Cleveland. I saw all these different images, and Cleveland is one of my favorite cities in Ohio to visit, so the whole package made me feel like [DePolo] needed to be our next spotlight artist.”

Kasich says once she has reviewed the finalists’ artwork and narrows down her choices, she’ll take a look at the artists’ stories. DePolo is the seventh installation through the “Spotlight” program, for which the first lady commends OAC’s continued promotion.

“Once I think I can’t be more blown away by someone’s artwork, someone else comes in, and I’m blown away again. So, it’s really been a lot of fun to highlight the artists who are our explorers, and our innovators, and our risk takers in this state and show people what we really do have to offer,” she said.

DePolo said artists need to be appreciated for such innovative qualities, with a need for similar “Spotlight” programs to exist.

The artist’s pieces are part of a forthcoming collection based solely on Cleveland, and she said “Spotlight” gives her a chance to preview her collection, which will fill her gallery later in the year. DePolo, who offers classes and works with communities to create public murals, brought two of her young art students to the exhibit Thursday.

DePolo’s use of the fast-drying acrylic paint allows her to work with speed. “Acrylic just works best for me because I like to work fast and inspired. I like to get it done all at once if I can,” she said, noting a love for sailing that she displays through skylines viewed from out on the water.

“I like my art to speak for itself,” she said. “If I hear three different interpretations of my work, then I know I have a good piece of art. I really don’t like to be explanatory; I want everyone to have their own journey.”

Kathy Signorino, OAC’s individual artist coordination, said the program highlights a diverse group of artists, from geography to age, and has brought the council’s attention to artists they haven’t before engaged with. Other artwork in the governor’s residence is a part of OAC’s loan program that features artists from around the state.

Laura Jones, Kasich’s chief of staff, said the first lady’s office likes to coordinate the delivery of the next quarter’s artist with the end of the current exhibit. DePolo’s exhibit will be on display through June 30.

DePolo’s art and studio information can be found at

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