Columbus, Ohio USA
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Perspective 24 and Sean Christopher Gallery
Counseling, coaching, and creativity are the gifts of John McCutcheon
by Christine Hayes
February 2003 Issue
In the left front flank of the Greystone building on High Street is a series of rooms, lined up like planets, leading to John McCutcheon's desk. The physical manifestations of his life-art-practice occur here: counseling, holistic coaching, his artwork – along with others. Perspective 24 is the counseling end ("perspective" is always cropping up in his work – "24" for the hours in "one day at a time") and Sean Christopher is the gallery end (for John and Catherine's two sons, age 13 and 10 respectively).
Plants, a photo of the Dalai Lama, a fountain with peaceful sound, candles; white walls set off the many pieces of art. A fanciful bench features morning glories and butterflies. A Bach Flower Remedy chart hangs near the desk. John uses passages from the Bach Flower Remedy book Affirmations in his work.
John McCutcheon states that his artwork, sense of community, and counseling work are not separate entities. He invites like-minded groups (poets, healing facilitators) to rent the gallery space for meetings and workshops. In the gallery, the largest of the rooms, he holds a men's anger management group, matching advanced members/counselors to novices. He feels the art in the gallery affects the work and the way the men process with each other.
In addition to anger management, John also provides counseling for substance dependency, including 12-step and secular recovery alternatives; individual, family, and couples life-coaching services; bereavement and depression workshops as well as expressive arts workshops, enhancing creativity, "play therapy" for children, "inner child" work for adults. Less traditional therapies include chakra balancing, aromatherapy, feng shui – or just getting artists out of creative block!
I looked at Randy Oldrieve's hand-torn paper collages. They made me feel calm with their color sense and spare composition. I looked at Tiger Spreng's acrylic/encaustic/glass/ink work. I felt inspired to do my own collage work. I looked at John McCutcheon's Plums/ Beachfront and thought of the Jersey shore. Some of the ingredients of the piece are confectioner's sugar, sprinkled brick color-dust, and an overlay of paint sprays over paint masks. I looked at his Mayflowers and June Bugs piece and looked forward to the springtime!
You might think that McCutcheon's counseling/art background is a little eclectic. You're right. He earned his counseling credential at Jersey City State College and Rutgers Summer Institute and came to Columbus for an MFA program in sculpture at The Ohio State University in 1986. He was going to teach art at the college level (and did while in the program) but soon began work with the North Central Mental Health Services where he spent nearly a decade, eventually becoming a leader for the Community Treatment Team for dual-diagnosed mental illness plus chemical dependency patients.
Monies were available then for non-traditional methods. The program won national awards (Best Adult Program by the National Case Management Association). But then times changed; monies dried up for creative non-traditional therapies.
All the while, McCutcheon was developing his art career, both in two-dimensional and installation. In the mid-'90s he became "AKA Johnny Aquarius." He used that name first at a performance piece in Hopkins Hall (OSU). He sprayed food coloring with mist bottles to an installation of coffee filters and coconut slivers attached to the wall, symbolizing the connection between air and sky. With a young boy (an impromptu accomplice) he unfolded "Santa's beard material" simultaneously as his spoken word story unfolded about Les Wexner's connection as an art-angel. Meanwhile, a large chunk of dried coconut slivers was passed through the audience "like a large cloud."
Moving on from there, one can see the evidence of McCutcheon's holistic/sensual/elemental side in the photos of Blankets and Pillows, a temporary outdoor installation weaving sky and earth together – actually beds on grass outdoors. (Coconut slices for aromatic effect as well.) Also on display are the painted-napkin pieces, memory images of the Jersey shore where John grew up.
More recently McCutcheon (who is in his fourth year on the board of the Ohio Art League) did an installation for same called Cocktails on the Rocks – stones with holes drilled holding cocktail umbrellas. It looked like a runner (rug) or "little islands"– we're talking 600 of these in juxtaposition at the gallery at Ft. Hayes!
Arts Impact Middle School (in the Short North) takes field trips to the Sean Christopher Gallery. They loved the November 2002 Sun You exhibit with jungle animals glued to the walls. In March and April (at the Gallery Hop), you'll encounter a show of works from the House of Hope residents (where John also counsels) featuring multi-media sound, line drawings of "heaven" and "recovery" interviews – "anonymous revelations." And in April a book-signing of Mommy Why Do You Drink Drug? from the Amethyst program of women's treatment.
Perspective 24 pulls the art out of the part of people that's walking around numb. Recently we saw a show of art using super-heroes and super-heroines! Look for a rumored exhibit of valentines. Look for Shawnda, the marvelous purveyor of Furniture ETC at the Greystone, pass on across the hall to the Sean Christopher, then further back to the serene office. Relax. Enjoy. Healing and viewing are all one.
John McCutcheon offers counseling and life coaching services at Perspective 24, 815 N. High Street in the Greystone Building. The Sean Christopher Fine Art Gallery at the same location is open during Gallery Hops or Wednesday through Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 pm or by appointment. Call 291-5890 for more information.
Editors Note 2017: Rebranded to Sean Christopher Gallery Ohio (2/11) was Sean Christopher Gallery @ Health Perspectives, 815 N. High St., Suites H & N. The current listed telephone is 614-327-1344. Visit Facebook.
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