Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Cleveland Figurative, CAN Triennial and Front International: Explained

Once upon a time, Fred Bidwell, Cleveland’s generous and highly active art patron and benefactor, along with Artistic Director, Michele Grabner…masterminded a Cleveland art event the likes of which had never been seen.

This summertime festival and Northeast Ohio-wide art event would be called FRONT International, and take place across many of the major art venues that Cleveland is so rich in (CMA, MOCA, CIA, Spaces and many more…some surprising!) during the Summer of 2018.

Hand picked international artists with a connection to Cleveland would be invited to create works, projects, films, installations and use all manner of creativity to address the theme of An American City…Cleveland. 

The publicity and international recognition generated by this event would be the boost that Cleveland…and lovers of “the land”…are always looking for. 

And, the CLE Art Community would not BE the Cleveland Art Community if we did not jump all over this to try to show off some of the terrific art being made right here by Cleveland Artists.

So, masterminds on the board of Cleveland’s own CAN JournalLiz Maugans, Michael Gill, Nancy Heaton and many others…put their heads together.  CAN (which stands for Collective Art Network) is a unique Art Journal and networking group dedicated to the promotion of all things Art in CLE. Plans were made to stage our own event to spotlight Cleveland artists during the FRONT International events in Summer of 2018.

This CLE event is called the CAN Triennial and takes place at the iconic 78th Street Studios, on Cleveland’s West side. In their own words, THIS is what CAN Triennial is:

“A gathering of exemplary contemporary art from Northeast Ohio, featuring new discoveries, rising stars, and the region’s most accomplished artists. An exhibit filling three floors of the 78th Street Studios with painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, fiber art, music, film, and site-specific installations. A Gallery Pavilion bringing together 20 of the most selective dealers from Northeast Ohio and surrounding cities. A deep dive into the creative minds of Cleveland.”

The 78th Street Studios is the former American Greetings Creative Studios…turned warehouse…turned art mecca. It houses artist studios, galleries, hosts weddings, events and the coolest monthly Third Friday Artwalk our town has ever seen. It made perfect sense to make this the one stop place to showcase Cleveland Artists for International Art tourists (apparently there is such a thing!) coming to town for FRONT International!

Thus was born my role in all this:
I gathered just a few of Cleveland’s foremost figurative realists to share their work at Booth No. 10, CLEVELAND FIGURATIVE at the 78th Street Studios, during the CAN Triennial Art Event.

Contemporary Figurative Realism is a movement that has been brewing on the coasts for over a decade. Cleveland’s own figurative artists have also been passionately painting humans with an eye to truth, beauty and the beauty of the truthful depiction…physically and emotionally.

To own a masterful depiction of a human soul is to bring empathy into your home. Contemporary Figurative Realism invites viewers to feel something for and with another person on this planet; to smile, to be touched, to connect, to linger and think.

Visit us at Booth 10 during the hours below to make friends with the artists and discover the beauty of the human souls who have been so lovingly painted.

Saturday-Sunday, July 14 and 15…12:00 to 6:00

Saturday-Sunday, July 21and 22…12:00 to 6:00
and during the 
Third Friday Artwalk
Friday, July 20…5:00 to 9:00

78th Streets Studios
First Floor Gallery Pavillion, Booth No. 10
1305 West 80th Street
Cleveland, Ohio

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How to Make Friends and Influence Strangers

Last night I gave a talk on everything I know about social media…up to the point where I had to hand my slide show in (yes I still call it that) to the wonderful folks at Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

Eternal Thanks to Mindy Tousley and Megan Alves and Theo Albano, whose efforts made sure the Social Media talk went without a hitch and who ran everything so beautifully for the opening of Szalay.Takács.SECRETS !

There’s still time to see the SECRETS show…its up through July 14th and totally worth the trip! See fabulous photos from the Opening Reception here and here by awesome photographer, Stuart Pearl.

As we all know, Social Media changes on a dime, and yesterdays algorithms might have allowed you to reach patrons and fans that todays algorithms don’t. And up until about six months ago, the word ”algorithm“ didn’t even came up in conversation…ever!

And, at the end of the talk I used the oldest media trick in the book to get you to come visit my blog for “the abridged transcript” of the talk…and here you are! 

I hope you’ll enjoy some of my other blog posts about paintings and projects. If you do, sign up to follow
…over there on the right!

Enough taking advantage of your compromised position where you're eagerly awaiting the meat and potatoes of my talk last night…

so, without further ado…here’s the beef:

At my social media talk, I showed you some great website examples…
Then I showed you my facebook page…ask to be my friend, but send me a PM along with it, so I know who you are! 

I talked about branding yourself, deciding what your artist name really is and defining your identity via your profile page. I mentioned the dillema that some married women have about naming themselves on facebook. I wrote a blog about just this topic a few years back for the Portrait Society of America.

I showed a beautiful example of an artist who lives her brand and her brand is her life

I suggested googling yourself to see just who you appear to be “out there.”

HOT TIP When you link someone's website or blog on your blog or website, your image may appear when someone searches for that (possibly more famous) person…another way that cross-pollination works for you. 

I talked about being a good citizen of the social media world…just like you want to be a good citizen of the real world…respecting “my house my rules…your house your rules”  with each other's pages.

I talked about the pros and cons of having a business page

  • pro…it can be all art and business and searchable on the internet, your mini website on facebook
  • con…few people see it unless you pay for sponsored posts, and even those send your page to people who may not be the ones you want to market to.

I showed you my business pages…which I still maintain despite their limited reach.

I told you about Group pages and how you can use them to market and share your art activities to, and gave you some examples:

I stressed Cross-Polllination in Social Media…tagging, pasting in links referencing each other whenever you market…spreading the love back to yourself and to others.

I talked about Facebook Event pages…and showed you the Event page for the AAWR show, GRAPHIC that’s coming up after my show, Szalay.Takács.Secrets comes down July 14th. Predicting it will be awesome!

And then there was a whole lot about instagram. I referenced a social media expert who also has a lot to say about instagram, so much so that she’s writing a social media book. Her name is Megan Van Groll and her Social Media Expert website is:

She gave some good hashtag examples for instagram…but encouraged you to be creative and make up some of your own, mixing hashtags with huge reach (#art…366Million posts) where your post is buried, but lots of people go there and those with limited reach (#eggtempera…17K posts) where fewer people go, but your post is more likely to get noticed:
  • #art, #artist, #oilpainter #painting #workinprogress #WIP #contemporary realism #artistsoninstagram #Contemporaryart #juicypaint #artstudio #commission #onmyeasel
  • And some hashtags to target art collectors:
    #artcollector #artdealer #artcollection #artgallery #buyart #contemporaryartcollector    
  • HOTTIP from Megan Van Groll Always hashtag yourself if you're posting artwork… #yournamehere…someone may be searching for you via hashtag. And its also a good way to have a curated hashtag with your name on it.
  • Hashtag your location too …#clevelandartist
I talked about the curated instagram page, and how you can trim out the extraneous stuff after the fact so your page will be all art, or at least all gorgeous. After your post about your neice's graduation has collected family likes and comments, you can “archive” it from your page. Its not deleted, just hidden from the overall page…you can see it again when you look under “archived posts”

Here are some gorgeous curated instagram accounts to inspire you to trim the fat from yours. 

I’d be remiss in the social media expert business if I didn’t include mine…which, admittedly isn't as curated as I'd like, but peppering in kid pix is part of my brand too, so I'm not trimming too much of the fat.

Follow us all…some us may follow you back!

These two won’t though…check out their "following" statuses.

HOT TIP…Be sure to turn off “private account” for your instagram if you want people to see it

And if you want to obsess about who has unfollowed you…there's an app for that.

I also talked about Blogs…

Blogs…I just love blogs…realllly I do! Here's the reference I made for those of you who didn't get it when I said it aloud!

And I summed things up with some fun internet memes…which I’m sure you’ve seen, but maybe won't mind seeing again…because they're so true. 

Social media and the issue of privacy…

Social media and the issue of wasting time…

And, I closed my talk with a hook…in advertising, we call this a “call to action.”

“for more information go to…”

and I'm so thrilled to have lured you here, to my blog!

This is a hook you can use though…next time you have the opportunity…cross-pollination is what Social Media is all about!

Email me at and I'll put you on my email list for my art comings and goings.

And, as a thank you for reading all the way to the end, when you email me, send me your home address too and I'll send you a Chicks with Balls Car sticker…along with a couple postcards and stuff too! I promise not to give your info to anyone else!

Thanks for coming to my talk…and I hope that you'll continue to join me in building the art world we want to live in! 


Monday, May 21, 2018

Mária, the secret sister who was sent away

Titkos Testvér Judy Takács
Almost 100 years ago, in a land three lifetimes away, my dad was born in the Hungarian village of Maglód. With his birth, the Takács family of three became a family of four.

Though she only had an eighth grade education, his mother…my grandmother… recognized my dad’s extreme propensity for mathematics early on. She did all she could to encourage the education of her young and budding genius son. 

This was not an easy feat in a land where it would have been quite reasonable and expected for him to end his education at age 14 and work repairing cars with his father or helping his mother with the general store she ran in this rural village. 

His older sister, Mária, being only a girl…sigh…would have been the logical choice to stop her education and work for the family in order that her brother be allowed to continue his. 

Mária, however, had larger issues. Her epilepsy required constant care and her seizures prevented her from leading a meaningful life…even for a girl…sigh.

She required constant care at home, with, presumably, my grandmother bearing the entire burden. 

The situation became even more difficult when my grandfathers’ health worsened … his lungs were declining rapidly.  He could no longer work, and my grandmother had to spend her days running the family General Store. My dad, at age 12 had just started commuting by train to a competitive school in Budapest, and his sister, Mária could not be left alone to care for herself while my grandmother managed the store. 

My grandmother, completely devoted to her brilliant son, would have sooner cut off her own arm than pull my dad out of his schooling to care for his sister.

Mária needed to be sent away so my grandmother could continue to work to support the family…and continue to fund my dad’s education. The story told to my dad as a young boy was that his sister, Mária went to live with relatives in another village. It is unclear if he ever saw her again. It is also unclear how long she lived after she was sent away, or at what age she was sent away, but she died at the age of 21.  My grandfather passed away around the same time and left my grandmother a widow, with one son on his way to becoming a brilliant mathematician. 

There is no mention in family documents or folklore as to when Mária was born, or how much older she was than my dad. There are no photos of her as a child or young woman…there are only a few of my dad, but they were professional formal photos. Why were none taken of his sister?

My dad never spoke of the person his sister Mária was. Did she read books? Did she draw? Was she funny? Did they play together? Did he know her well? Surely between the debilitating seizures there was a human being who lived for a time, was loved by her family and made some marks on her small world. 

And, as for the “sent away to live with relatives” part of the story… could that have been a euphemism to soften the shame of her being institutionalized? And in 1930s rural Hungary, I can only imagine the horrors of being institutionalized for a misunderstood disease where constant seizures may have looked like insanity and have been treated with constant sedation and restraints. At the time there also existed experimental surgery for epilepsy, and also some experimentation inexplicably linking it with psychosis and using electro shock therapy. I have no idea if this these treatments touched Mária’s life. I am imagining botched brain surgery on par with lobotomies, but very much hoping that was not the case. The true story of her short life will never be known, nor will the actual cause of her death…we have no death certificates.

I do not judge my grandmother for her agonizing Sophie’s Choice decision to send her daughter away so her son’s education and genius could thrive. 

And, selfishly, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my grandmother for essentially betting on the winning pony in the family and making the painful decision that benefited all the relatives yet to come… but sacrificed one. 

My dad’s education, and subsequent success as a Mathematician and Pioneer of Queueing Theory was his ticket out of communist war-torn Hungary. His coming with my mother to Columbia University as an invited distinguished professor ensured that my sister and I would be born as citizens in the United States…which, despite opinions to the contrary…is already great. 

I am ever-mindful of this privilege of birth I got for free; a privilege paid for by my parents, grandparents…and my only aunt.

So, I paint my gratitude to honor my mysterious Aunt Mária. Titkos Testvér. Secret Sister.

Full of symbolic details, I chose for my model, a young woman who looked like a photo of my dad at age 18…I figured there would be a family resemblance.

I wrapped her in a shawl that my grandmother had crocheted for me as a young girl…thinking she may have done the same for her own daughter Mária.

Because my grandmother was a good Catholic, I figured she would have sent Mária off with accessories of the faith to keep her company; a bible, a rosary and the Infant Jesus prayer card. These are all items which had belonged to my grandmother and were brought with her when she emigrated to the United States in 1963, five years after my dad left in 1958. 

Hanging behind Mária are toddler mittens my grandmother had knitted for me as a child…I can only assume she would have done the same with her own daughter. And the black purse, heavy with Hungarian forints and fillérs, may have been pocket money sent along to keep her caregivers happy.

And there is a letter hanging in the background. It begins, “Édes Mária…Dear Mária.” I collaged pieces of my grandmother’s handwriting to form these words since I have no actual letters from mother to daughter in exile.

There’s an old Jewish saying, sometimes attributed to Banksy, and also to Herman Taube…

“They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”

I’m starting the clock again on my mysterious secret aunt, Mária Takács. 

Titkos Testvér, Secret Sister Aunt Mária…
the one who was sent away.

Titkos Testvér will be showing at my Two-Artist Inaugural Exhibit with the late Marilyn Szalay at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.
Mark your Calendars for the May 24th opening reception.

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
Opening Reception: May 24, from 5:30 to 8:00
Show continues through July 14, 2018

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Final Chapter…A Mother's Day Portrait

The Final Chapter
Judy Takács
There is so much symbolism in this work I don’t even know when to begin. 

I’ll begin at a time that was very close to the end. 

Late in May of 2016, I asked my mom to come to my studio and pose for me from life. Neither one of us said, “one last time.” 

She was at the end of her four-year journey with Ovarian Cancer, had decided to forgo the last cruel bout of debilitating chemo…that wasn’t working anyway… and let the chips fall where they may. 

I told her she could read while she posed for me.

This is something I do not encourage because the sitter’s downward cast face moves from one side to the other, changing the head angle with the regularity of a slow and frustrating metronome.

But I bent the rules for her…just this once.

As she posed, she also dozed, giving me even more frustrating head angles. But, I embraced the experience and came up with this portrait of a disappearing little gray person painted from life. (below)
Little Gray Person
Judy Takács

While I was painting, I also snapped photos because I knew there was a better painting yet to come. I also had no idea how long the photos would sit on my hard drive after she was gone, before I steeled myself to approach them as painting reference…let alone look at them. 

Now it’s been not quite two years, and I felt the time was right to approach this “final portrait” of my mom…especially with the advent of my solo show, SECRETS, coming up in May. 

I’m not a believer in the afterlife per se, but my mom was. To her, the afterlife was a glorious journey where you find out everything you didn’t get to find out during your lifetime. Ever the control master (like mother, like daughter) she wrote her own eulogy reassuring us that she was now on to new discoveries about historical and scientific questions that had plagued the ages. I’m sure she is.

As I watched her read while I painted her, the pages of the book began to look more like angel wings…allowing her to soar via the vast knowledge she was gaining in the afterlife. 

I surrounded her with her own words. If you’ve read my other blogs on my Ephemera paintings, you’ll know that my mom, Dalma Takács, was an English Professor who left mountains of handwritten words; journals, plays, concepts, fictions, histories and class notes. These class notes were color-coded on multi-colored notecards. From this vast store, I tore juicy tidbits of her observations on the many books she read and lectured to her classes about. There are reflections on heaven, hell, good, evil, puritans, monsters in fiction and reality and Beowulf too. 

The ancient poem, Beowulf is particularly pertinent, because the day before she died, she told me all about Beowulf, and his quest to slay Grendel. 

The actual book she was reading when she came to pose was one about Greek Tragic Drama. In the painting, however, I decided to substitute the book she was reading when she died. It was a book by her own father, Lajos Páloczi Horváth; an autobiographical account of his life during the Second World War, Communist Hungary, his time in political prison and the Hungarian Revolution that released him. 

The name of that book was, “Két Világ Határán”…Between Two Worlds…kinda perfect actually.

And, the name of my painting is The Final Chapter.

The Final Chapter…will be showing at my Two-Artist Inaugural Exhibit with the late Marilyn Szalay at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.
Mark your Calendars for the May 24th opening reception. 

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
Opening Reception: May 24, from 5:30 to 8:00
Show continues through July 14, 2018

An, just in time for Mother’s Day, I’m thrilled to announce that my mom, Dalma Takács, college professor, playwright and author of histories and fictions now has a wikipedia page.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Venus and Winged Victory

Venus, Given and Taken
Judy Takács

Venus, Given and Taken

My older Venus has spent an eternity presenting her gifts to the world; peace, love, sexuality and fertility. Her lean and aging body is evidence of what she has readily given for eons, as are her Botticelli braids, which are positively fallopian. These gifts which mortal women…and goddesses… present to the world so willingly, are sometimes taken by force, coercion and legislation and used against us to deny us the power we naturally hold. Greek Mythology, contemporary religions and the headlines give us plenty of examples of this. 

And yet women…and goddesses… continue to give.

Winged Victory
Judy Takács

Winged Victory

Once again posing the my favorite model to paint, I asked her to clutch antique rug beaters; a metaphor for the trials of existence; being beaten. Her firm grasp on them, however exerts control.

Ever the optimist, I also saw the rug beaters as wings…winged victory.

I'm thrilled to announce that both these paintings were accepted into the:

Ninth Annual May Show
Lakeland Community College

Opening Reception:
Thursday night May 17th, 6:00 to 9:00

Show continues through July 13th

Lakeland Community College
7700 Clocktower Drive, Kirtland, Ohio

Thank you to
Ohio Art Council judge Ken Emmerick for what I know was an incredibly difficult decision process with so many wonderful entries.

And Thank You to Mary Urbas for, year after year, putting together this
premier Northeast Ohio juried exhibition;
The May Show at Lakeland.

In case you need more reasons to go see the show, here’s the list of artists who are included.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Venus, She’s Got It…

“A Goddess on the mountaintop…was burning like a silver flame…the summit of beauty and love…and Venus was her name”*

In 1967 Mariska Veres sang these words with the band, Shocking Blue and they have occupied my head ever since I began researching and painting, She’s Got It  for  Poets/Artists Visions of Venus/Venus’ Visions exhibition at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. Sadly, my work wasn’t accepted into the show…but the whole project resulted in several paintings I love, so it’s all good!

The shocking blue background, the flame, the planet(s) and my beautiful and sensuous Venus; a recent mother…not quite “black as the dark night,” all came from the song. My Venus’ artful braids were real, but I multiplied, embellished and brought them to life…much like Botticelli did with his Venus’ flowing hair.

As I researched this most-famous Goddess of all time, I found that she is more than the welcoming, fleshy, pale and pampered woman languishing about in so many Renaissance paintings.
Botticelli, Birth of Venus

The Goddess of Love and Desire, sprouting from a shell…or from sea foam…(depending on which artist you ask) fully formed, is also the Goddess of Peace, softening the swagger and violence of her male counterpart, Mars, the God of War. 

Wikipedia tell us that, “In myth, Venus/Aphrodite was born of sea-foam. Roman theology presents Venus as the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life. Her male counterparts in the Roman pantheon, Vulcan and Mars, are active and fiery. Venus absorbs and tempers the male essence, uniting the opposites of male and female in mutual affection. She is essentially assimilative and benign, and embraces several otherwise quite disparate functions. She can give military victory, sexual success, good fortune and prosperity.”
Peter Paul Rubens, Prometheus on the Rocks

Interpreting the Mythology (as all artists have throughout art history)…I saw Venus as more a Prometheus character. Prometheus is the Demi-God who brings fire from the Gods to the mortals of the earth and is punished for it by being strapped to a rock to have the vultures eat his liver for all of eternity…the Rubens’ painting in the MET makes this horrifically graphic.

For my painting, I interpreted Venus as a symbol of the African American Woman. Her gift of fire; whether its tending the home with the cooking fire, the fire in her heart to achieve, the fire to love, the fire to create, the fire to fight for justice and the fire to bring forth new life and to nurture it…is historically unrecognized, unappreciated, diminished and often destroyed.

Venus as Prometheus.

My painting, however is hopeful. Her expression is concerned but peaceful as she graces a non-Euro-centric perspective of the earth beneath her fingers. Look closely, Africa is on top…and why shouldn't it be? The universe is three dimensional, there is no up or down, but the globe-makers were European, so Europe is depicted in the top half of the globe every time. I show my Venus’ vision and her unique viewpoint. 

And, her flame is burning brightly as she peacefully presents it to the world…again.

 *VENUS written by Robbie Van Leeuwen

Venus, She’s Got It…will be showing at my Two-Artist Inaugural Exhibit with the late Marilyn Szalay at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.
Mark your Calendars for the May 24th opening reception. 

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
Opening Reception: May 24, from 5:30 to 8:00
Show continues through July 14, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SECRETS…Revealed May 24th at the Artists Archives!

I’m thrilled to issue the official announcement and press release for my upcoming two-artist show at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio…just one month away!

Inaugural Exhibit featuring the works of archived artists, Judy Takács and the late Marilyn Szalay
Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, Cleveland, OhioOpening Reception: 
Thursday, May 24, 5:30 to 8:00
Show runs through July 14, 2018

Several years in the making, (or a lifetime, depending on when you started the clock) I am honored to be sharing my inaugural exhibit at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve with the work of Cleveland’s late and legendary figure drawing master, Marilyn Szalay, who passed away in 2012.

SECRETS features new work from me, along with pieces from my Chicks with Balls project  my NUN project, my paintings of the elderly and work inspired by the passing of my parents and the family secrets I discovered subsequently.

I’m also excited that the exhibit will feature many never-before-exhibited charcoal masterpieces by the powerfully prolific, Marilyn Szalay. These pieces were chosen by Mindy Tousley, Executive Director of Artists Archives and myself, from the collection of her works lovingly cared for by her sister.


Art is full of secrets…secret meanings, symbolism, struggles and statements. Some secrets, in the case of Marilyn Szalay’s work…go to the grave with the artist, leaving curators and art historians to investigate, gather clues and put together assumptions. 

Some secrets, however, are readily explained by the artist…and an art historian, curator or critic need only read the artist's blog to find out the whats and the whys behind decisions and symbols. This is certainly true in my case; many of my secrets are in plain sight at But, even my blog is not a “tell-all confessional”…some secrets remain secret. 

One of my goals in showing my work with Lynn’s was to also create a Wikipedia page for her.

I spent the past few months putting this together, writing it in encyclopaedic format (no easy feat for me with my love of adjectives, superlatives and metaphors) and submitted it for approval…preparing to be put through a few months of back and forth with changes and corrections from Wikipedia’s judges and jury.

I submitted it at 9:00 in the morning a few Tuesdays ago and was shocked and thrilled that they accepted it by lunchtime that same day, Marilyn Szalay is officially part of art history now, with her own Wikipedia page. Her notability is obvious by the mark the has left on the figurative art world, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised one bit her page was approved so quickly.

If you haven't clicked on her name already or seen her work (below), check out Marilyn Szalay on Wikipedia here

Put May 24, 5:30 to 8:00 on your calendar for what I’m predicting will be a thoroughly satisfying celebration of figurative art in Northeast Ohio.


Hope to see you there!


Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
1834 E. 123rd Street
Cleveland, Ohio
216 721-9020