Through late February, visitors to Delaware’s Gallery 22 art gallery can enjoy two new collections currently on exhibit that feature unique takes on the representation of art.
Powell artist Jack Haunty’s acrylic on canvas “Logos of Life” paintings and local chess enthusiast Franco Ruffini’s collection of rare and unique chess sets went on exhibit Jan. 7 and can be enjoyed through Feb. 22.
Haunty, whose career is in marketing and advertising, has done considerable work in brand communications for a variety of companies through the years. Having dedicated so much time working with logos meant to represent a company’s brand, the Haunty exhibit is meant to represent scenes viewed in everyday life.
“I take what I look at very seriously, and there are certain scenes that we see every day, whether it’s a single goose walking down towards the lake on a golf course, certain barns, or the way certain things happen in our environment,” Haunty said. “You take a look at that, and you’ve seen it a thousand times. It starts to become a statement or an identity.”
He added, “I really feel kind of serious about what I look at. I have fun executing (the scene), but I still am very serious about the simple little things. It doesn’t take much to excite me. I kind of try to record that … When I look at them, I recall scenes I’ve seen just like them elsewhere.”
Haunty said he’s never tried to get “too sophisticated” with his artwork, and he didn’t want a “cooky” theme that left people wondering what the paintings meant. However, he added that the exhibit does have an exploratory nature that allows viewers to determine what they’re seeing relative to the “Logos of Life” general theme.
The current exhibit at Gallery 22 marks the first time Haunty has shown his personal artwork in a professional setting, telling The Gazette he’s never taken his work too seriously. Now, with his paintings hanging in the gallery for all to see, Haunty expressed excitement that he can achieve the primary goal he sets out to accomplish each time he begins a new piece.
“It’s exciting to me because putting it out there for people to see, I have one objective and that’s that the work makes people happy,” Haunty said.
Ruffini’s collection of chess sets, titled “The Queen’s Gambit,” offers a different type of art than is typically seen at the gallery, and one that many might not have otherwise associated with art. Ruffini, a retired archaeologist, said there are sets from three separate collections. Included in the collections are African sets made in Zimbabwe and Ghana, sets from Israel and Poland, and several sets from former Ohio Wesleyan student John McBride that he cast himself.
Ruffini’s own personal collection includes what he referred to as some “oddball sets,” the oddest of which he said is equally unique as it is odd. The set was constructed in Russia shortly after the Russian Revolution that ended in 1923, and it’s made from extinct mammoth ivory that was found on the tundra of northern Russia. According to Ruffini, there is only one other set of its nature known to exist.
In addition to the uniqueness of the material used to make the board, Ruffini said the set depicts a battle of workers versus capitalists and is appropriately titled “The Propaganda Set.” The two kings on the board represent a worker holding a hammer and a man holding a bag of money, while the pawns pit anvils against vodka bottles.
“It was meant very much as a contemporary statement right after the Russian Revolution,” Ruffini said of the set.
Ruffini said he began playing chess when he was 8 years old, a passion he has maintained at his current age of 72. Having accumulated his various sets through the years, Ruffini felt it was time to show off the set while introducing people to the “world and art of chess.”
“Chess and art have always been very closely linked,” Ruffini said. “Many of the famous artists of the early 20th century — Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Picasso, Dalí — not only played chess, but they also made chess sets. So there’s always been this close tie between chess and the world of art.”
Also present at the exhibit is a playable chessboard that visitors can play while at the gallery. Ruffini said there have been some local players who often meet to play at a local coffee shop who have come to the exhibit to play against him, and he’s also had the opportunity to invite people at the exhibit to sit down and learn about the game.
“That’s why I called it ‘The Queen’s Gambit,’” Ruffini said. “A gambit is when you make a sacrifice to suck someone in. It’s an opening, so I saw that pairing chess and art is an opening to get people interested in chess.”
Gallery 22 is open for visitors on Fridays and Saturdays from 6-8:30 p.m.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.