Artworks, chess sets fill Gallery 22

Through the end of February, visitors to Delaware’s Gallery 22 art gallery can enjoy two new collections currently on display that offer a unique take 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 were put on display January 7 and can be enjoyed through February 22.

Haunty, whose career is in marketing and advertising, has done extensive work over the years in brand communication for various companies. After spending so much time working with logos meant to represent a company’s brand, the Haunty exhibit aims to depict scenes from everyday life.

“I take what I watch very seriously, and there are certain scenes that we see every day, whether it’s a single goose walking on a golf course to the lake, certain barns or the way certain things happen in our environment, Haunty said. “If you look at that, you’ve seen it a thousand times. It’s starting to become a statement or an identity.”

He added: “I really feel a bit serious about what I’m watching. I have fun performing (the scene), but I’m still very serious about the simple little things. It doesn’t take much to turn me on. I try to capture that a little bit … When I watch it, I remember scenes I’ve seen just like elsewhere.”

Haunty said he never tried to get “too sophisticated” with his artwork, and he didn’t want a “cookie” theme that would leave people wondering what the paintings meant. However, he added that the exhibition is of an exploratory nature that allows viewers to determine what they see related to the overall theme of ‘Logos of Life’.

The current exhibition at Gallery 22 is the first time Haunty has shown his personal artwork in a professional setting, telling The Gazette that he has never taken his work too seriously. Now that his paintings are hanging in the gallery for everyone to see, Haunty expressed his excitement that he can achieve the primary goal he wants to achieve every time he starts a new piece.

“It’s exciting for me because I have one goal to show it to people, and that’s that the work makes people happy,” Haunty said.

Ruffini’s collection of chess sets, entitled ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, offers a different kind of art than usually seen in the gallery, and one that many might not otherwise have associated with art. Ruffini, a retired archaeologist, said there are sets from three separate collections. The collections include African sets made in Zimbabwe and Ghana, sets from Israel and Poland, and several sets by former Ohio Wesleyan student John McBride that he cast himself.

Ruffini’s own personal collection includes what he called a number of “strange sets,” the strangest of which he said are as unique as they are strange. Built in Russia shortly after the Russian Revolution that ended in 1923, the set is made from extinct mammoth ivory found on the tundra of northern Russia. According to Ruffini, only one other set of its nature is known.

In addition to the unique material used to create the board, Ruffini said the set depicts a struggle between workers and capitalists and is aptly 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 place anvils against vodka bottles.

“It was very much intended as a contemporary statement right after the Russian Revolution,” Ruffini said of the set.

Ruffini said he started playing chess when he was 8 years old, a passion he has maintained to his current age of 72. After collecting his various sets over the years, Ruffini felt it was time to show off the set and introduce 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 also made chess sets. So there has always been a close bond between chess and the art world.”

The exhibition also includes a playable chess board that visitors can play in the gallery. Ruffini said there are local players who often meet to play in a local coffee shop and who have come to the exhibition to play against him, and he has also had the opportunity to invite people at the exhibition to sit down and learn more about the game.

“That’s why I called it ‘The Queen’s Gambit,'” Ruffini said. “A gamble is when you make a sacrifice to suck someone in. It’s an opening, so I saw that linking chess and art is an opening to get people interested in chess.”

Gallery 22 is open to visitors on Friday and Saturday from 6-8:30 pm

Gallery 22 is currently hosting an exhibit titled “The Queen’s Gambit: An Opening to the World and Art of Chess.” Pictured is Jonathan McBride’s Staunton chess set, with cast iron pieces.

Jack Haunty’s “Logos of Life” exhibit is currently on display at Gallery 22 in downtown Delaware. Shown is Haunty’s “Fearless” acrylic on canvas painting.

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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