Monday, May 7, 2018

Mind the Gap Exhibit at Southwestern College

FIG just finished a new exhibit called Mind the GapOur current society seems to be trying to widen the gap between the sexes. In Mind the Gap, members of Feminist Image Group attempt to bridge the gap with their art, inviting male artists to show beside them, a creative conversation highlighting the connections that already exist, hopefully to foster a larger conversation that brings us closer together. 

The show took place from March 15 through April 19, with two receptions highlighting the artists and performances related to the exhibit.

The image chosen to advertise the show was Helen Redman's piece Eyeing.

Here are some general gallery views of the space at Southwestern College...

Below are Linda Litteral's Gameboard Series: Chess #2 and Richard Burkett's untitled porcelain piece. 

Litteral writes: "This chess set takes a male war-dominated game and converts the war players from soldiers and leaders into common everyday dishes--a teapot instead of a rook, a cup and saucer instead of a pawn. Represented are dishes everyone uses. I am subverting the idea of war into the everyday interactions we all make around eating and drinking. 

I met Richard at SDSU as a student. He is a master potter. I primarily do sculpture with some throwing. Richard also does both, but his earlier background is as a potter. The thrown pieces by both of us are rooted in usable pottery, but are not very practical in terms of everyday use. I was influenced by Richard's work throughout graduate school and am grateful for his mentoring during that time."

Images from the opening

One of the performance pieces was a tug-of-war organized by Brian Black and Ryan Bulis, engaging viewers in considering binary notions of competition vs collaboration and masculine vs feminine. 

This trophy in the gallery documents all participants and their wins and losses.

Kathy Nida's Earth Day and James E. Watts' Hannah Kokeshi Doll

Nida writes: "The drawing for Earth Day happened after a tsunami and a nuclear power plant melting down and an oil spill or two and humans and animals dealing with hazardous waste. I was on a short vacation away from home, but was sick with the destruction I'd seen on the news and with a simple cold. As I drew, I imagined Mother Earth angry with us for all our meddling in her realm. She doesn't think designating one day a year to revere the Earth is enough.

I call myself a storyteller. My quilts use patches of many commercial fabrics to tell those stories. I invited James E. Watts to be a part of this show because his work also tells stories, although his chosen materials are wood, metal, and stone, instead of fabric. His work also deals with the human figure, although his versions are more sculptural and physically present in a room than mine. Our work does speak to each other. His Hannah Kokeshi Doll is about one of his daughters, celebrating her life. He uses found tin to show insight into his daughter, much as I cut fabric pieces to create my quilted figures. Both of us use color, pattern, and shape in a patchwork fashion to tell our stories, often hiding a deeper meaning only revealed after close reflection."

Anna Stump and Ted Meyer collaborated on Theodora, a Conceptual Project Based on Cathead Paintings.

Stump and Meyer have been working together on projects for almost 10 years. Usually they curate or organize events. In 2016, they began to produce a series of "salable" paintings under the name "Theodora." The pair passed the paintings back and forth between their two studios. They used street-art tropes of text, collage, stenciling and spray paint, paint markers, metallics, humor, and cartoons. Subject? Cat heads. Because they sell.

How did the Theodora project, which took about a year to produce and exhibit 24 paintings, turn out? Results were mixed, but interesting. The conversations the two artists had before, during, and after painting the works were more compelling than the works. Communication is the real subject of the project, rather than the paintings themselves. Intentions, realities, costs, egos, their relationship, failure--these were the factors in producing the colorful canvases, a few of which sold, but most of which have not. Yet.

Stacie Birky Greene's Critical: Indian Bustard and William Feeney's Why It's So Difficult to Be Tender When You're a Boy

Birky Greene writes: "My work over the past five years has focused on birds that have gone extinct since 1970 or are critically endangered, with the goal of drawing attention to the ecological and global implications of their loss. These pieces I've drawn on reclaimed wood mounted onto watercolor background reflecting their color or habitat.

William Feeney and I tend to frame our work in a way that allows the viewer to construct their own interpretation. On some occasions, Feeney chooses a more direct approach, such as in his piece below. While the piece is humorous, it is also an effective critique of attitudes regarding socially sanctioned male behavior. I am encouraged when men bear some of this weight, as Feeney does here with his work." 

Helen Redman's Eyeing and Mitch Younker's Untitled in bronze

Redman discusses their work, "Eyeing is almost a self-portrait. Gazing at life and death with full force, feeling these cycles in the very grain of my body, I become one with all the elements of nature. I ask the viewer to pay attention, to be aware that this endangered earth is also our home.

For years now, I have felt a deep affinity with Mitch Younker (the husband of my artist friend Leah Younker). It is always such a joy to visit their home to see how they interact in their love of art, how Mitch designs and physically builds spaces of beauty that are unique and brilliant in their structural integrity. I was drawn to the visceral shape and furrowed texture of his bronze seed pod, as it echoes both vaginal and testicular shapes. Mitch is a generative artist with a powerful sense of form: a humanist 'creating for his own muse.'

I like that we use different 2- and 3-D materials to express our subjects as we reflect on the natural aging of all life forms. We have both been leveled and leavened by life. I think you can see that in our art."

Kathi McCord's Chevre Sunflower, Woman with Green Ribbons in Her Hair, Hummingbird Garden, and The Giver of Life. Bill Kelly's Lucretious Once Said, photographs, petrified dead bird, and Parables of a Nature Photographer handmade book.

McCord writes "Our work centers on the circle of life and death. We have both chosen birds as a metaphor for this. Bill has chosen to work with actual dead birds: finding them and letting them organically decompose. He then creates a tableau, including clay birds to interact with the dead ones. He uses organic materials: dirt, bird bones, lizard skins, and whatever else he finds on his travels. These birds and bones are a testimony to their lived lives and now they're being set in place (or a place) in a Bill Kelly tableau.

My drawings also include birds but not dead ones. I chose sunflowers to represent the circle of life and death. They are dying as I draw them, day after day. The hummingbirds are trying to breathe life back into them. My materials are basic: pencils of every thickness, color pencils.

We both feel passionately about the degradation of our planet and the daily loss of beautiful species, represented for us by birds.

Terri Hughes-Oelrich's Rainforest and Logging (right side) and Wayne Hulgin's 1-10 Untitled (left)

Hughes-Oelrich writes: "One of my recent projects was inspired by high-end construction waste. As I cut, glued, and arranged the scraps, I thought about the origin of the material. The rainforest where some of this wood originated compelled me to research the sustainability of these woods. I rarely make abstract work, but it makes sense to show the beauty of the material.

Wayne Hulgin, my invited artist, makes lovely abstract art. His approach varies from mine. He states, 'My work is involved with the visual aspects of what you are really looking at, whether it's wood, paper, canvas, layers of paint, or lines of graphite, and how it's put together and how it works with the wall and how it works with the light.' Wayne's approach to the work is not limited in any way. There's no symbolism that is suggested. There is no narrative that he wants to communicate. There is no political agenda he wants to put across. 'I am not limited by any of that. I don't have any of those things to stop me from experimenting and going forward. My work is not about anything other than what's right before your eyes. What you see is what you get--nothing more, nothing less.'"

 Lynn Susholtz's collaboration with Brian Black and Ryan Bulis on Neighborhood--The Game

Susholtz writes "Neighborhood--The Game is designed to highlight social and economic disparity in 4 San Diego regional communities. Playing the game is intended to stimulate civic discourse and community engagement. Rather than accumulate private property and personal wealth, the object of the game is to create public space in your community. Participants collaborate with neighbors to purchase public amenities for each neighborhood. Salary, rental income, and real-estate prices in each neighborhood are determined by the actual statistics of each zip code. Winning is a collaborative effort and a collective outcome."

Grace Gray Adams' Soul of the Heart and Scott Gressitt's Pierced Heart on Table

Gray Adams writes "My inspiration for this piece is the seven sorrows of the mother of Jesus. In our churches, frequently they have a statue of Mary with seven swords in her heart. As a parent you hurt deeply when your child is hurt. Since the 2016 presidential campaign, I have witnessed the pain of my four children and nine grandchildren. They have been under attack for their gender, their race and their personal safety. The flaming hearts are important in the Mexican culture. They come from the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To me, my flaming heart symbolizes the burning passion of love overcoming the heart break.

The reason I chose Scott Gressitt is because he is a wood worker who in his spare time crafts beautiful hearts. I draw and sculpt hearts all the time, so his work intrigues me. His hearts are romantic and exquisitely crafted in contrast to my conceptual realism."

Stephanie Bedwell's Over Time superimposed over Michael Field's Salton Sea on the left, facing Gray Adam's work.

Stephanie's lightweight boat form alludes to the poignancy of the human condition, navigating life in a boat that really cannot stay afloat. Michael's photograph is the backdrop for Stephanie's hanging boat. 

Michael's work documents both natural and manmade changes over time to the Southern California desert landscape. While his photograph of the receding Salton Sea highlights the passage of geologic time and the influence of humans on the landscape, Stephanie's work is cognizant of time in a different way. The sculpture Over Time reflects on another question: How does one live wholeheartedly, despite the suffering and loss inherent to time? Sharing connections between materials and place, their work becomes a study in consciousness, calling us to notice the natural world as they document their paths through it.

Lisa Hutton's No. 23672 Ladies White Umbrella Underskirt 79 cents, No. 23673 Ladies White Underskirt 90 cents, No. 23674 Ladies Fine White Underskirt $1.25, and No. 23671 Muslin Underskirt 65 cents (two on each side). Stephen Chalmer's Blood Spattered Leaves and Her Struggle Was Useless (center).

Hutton writes "My work explores Victorian-era media and is inspired by the 1897 Sears Roebuck Catalogue--the original consumer's guide. For me, this is not the first time this catalogue has inspired some artwork. The catalogue provides a unique glimpse into an earlier time for women. My reproductions of ladies' undergarments reveal the way clothing is gendered. Men in this era, after all, were wearing pants. These examples demonstrate that progress can be measured in the clothing choices women and men can choose today. 

I invited Stephen Chalmers, whose current work examines the life and death of Pearl Bryan. On 1 February 1896, Pearl Bryan was seven months' pregnant when she was murdered and decapitated in northern Kentucky by her lover, with the assistance of his roommate. This crime was called 'the crime of the century' and captured the imagination of the country--with daily coverage of the trial in the New York Times and more than 25 popular folk songs.

These works are temporally connected and provide a sense of women's experiences and the popular attentions of the nation during the last decade of the 1800s.

Judith Christensen's The Patient Prefers to Lie Quietly in a Dark Room, Two and James Christensen's Headwaters of the Feather River.

Judith writes "The Patient Prefers to Lie Quietly in a Dark Room: Two is about migraines. The imagery on the bed is a topographical map of a serene and scenic place, the Sierra Valley in Northern California, a place we visited each fall, from the time my daughter was a baby until she was in her teens. The lines on the map are created by handwritten text, culled from scientific articles about the history, causes, and neurological studies about migraines. Like the Sierra Valley, the bed is a refuge--the place to be for those who experience migraines. For all of us, even those who don't have migraines, the bed can be a comforting place for our bodies and minds.

I invited James because, although we've never formally collaborated, we live together, so we share ideas and technical information and act as a sounding board for each other as we work our way through the various challenges the creative process presents. There are common threads--thematic, structural, and the use of materials--in our artwork. A central form in our artwork is 'containers.' Both hats and beds are designed to contain our body or a part of our body. The hat has an additional container that is integral to the piece. The immaculately constructed box for the hat makes reference to James' years of constructing impeccable travel crates for the museums' artworks.

The box, the hat, and the bed become metaphorical containers for our experiences, the individual perceptions, and the commonalities that make up our day-to-day lives.

Cindy Zimmerman and John Highkin...Zimmerman writes: "This is a canvas banner I made for Fern Street Circus in the early 1990s, still in use, modified in 2015 with new striped standard and points. Since I am an artist specializing in social practice, a functional object such as this one stands both as my aesthetic expression and a corporate identity. Made with scraps from larger projects, and worn with use, it testifies to the many years I have been intimately involved with this ongoing artistic and community project.

My partnering artist is John Highkin, my husband and the co-director of our nonprofit organization. Fern Street Circus offers traditional and innovative acts, original music, locally created costumes and sets, and connections to other community organizations. John manages the free afterschool circus education project, drives the fundraising and promotion, and creates the new show every year. I chose John because our life together is a deep running source of all my own creative achievements and a continual chronicle of passion, frustration, exhilaration, and service."

Kathleen Mitchell's The Best Offense (left) and Rich Stewart's Where the Buffalo Roam (right)

Mitchell writes "My piece is a twist on the strategic offensive principle of war. My armadillo has layer upon layer of defense.

I invited my husband, Rich Stewart, to exhibit with me for two reasons. First, I like the comparison of my clean Swedish graal technique to his rough, folk-art approach. Second, although we rarely collaborate, when we dive into one another's preferred material (me glass, Rich metal), our work becomes conversational.

Anna Zappoli's Save the Trees and Dan Adams' Camilla, Just Go, Stubby, Catch, Run, and Yellow Bird.

Zappoli writes, "I have chosen to invite Dan Adams to the show Mind the Gap. Dan Adams is the artist that I love and share my life with. We married already united by this love of art and love of nature that connects us. Everyday creatures come to feed in this garden and with this inspiration we become the child to see this beauty. We create this love in our paintings for our friends and family to enjoy. Dogs become Gods and birds become Goddesses until we don't dream anymore and we paint becoming creators of love."

Kathy Miller's Subdivision, House with Red Door, and Sail Away. Gary Miller's Fireplace, Gas Station No. 1, and Gas Station No. 2.

Miller writes "'Home Is Where the Heart Is' has been attributed to the first-century Roman author, naturalist, and philosopher Pliny the Elder. My husband Gary and I purchased a house nine years ago. Although the house was built in the 50s, the concept of owning a home was new to us. Our soon-to-be dwelling needed remodeling and tender loving care, which became our focus for six intensive months. Sometime after we settled in, I ran across a book called House as a Mirror of Self by Clare Cooper Marcus. 'This is a book about people and their homes and the subtle bonds of feeling we experience with dwellings past and present.' Henceforth I began a new adventure as an artist, an adventure in making paintings of houses using a contemporary format. In this body of work, with the emphasis on house and home, I have chosen to use hard-edge minimalist painting, with simplification of form that is influenced in part by my Scandinavian heritage and the philosophy that 'less is more.'

Gary Miller has been taking photographs of structures in disrepair for years. I invited him to participate with me because his black and white photos from the series States of Disrepair make an interesting contrast to my colorful paintings that evoke dwellings."

Susan J. Osborn's Narcissus, and Carlos Castrejon's Conversation

Osborn writes "The woman sits on a rock edge facing a mirror image of herself, which is under unrelated rock textures and natural forms. She is relaxed, sitting slightly slouched and not conscious about how her body is posed. She is thinking about her own image and the desire to be herself. Along the top are three figures of nude women; they are in sexy and alluring poses. Being a woman often makes me think too much of myself and the roles I play in society.

Carlos Castrejon presents three women sitting in a parlor with wine and candles. A woman stares out at the viewer while another seems to be speaking to an unknown, outside the picture frame. There is a dark mysterious form to the right of the women, suggesting something to come or something unsaid. The women are not conversing with one another and seem isolated. He compares the power of women to their environment. He is interested in natural forms and how the behavior of women can transform a situation. Or he may be thinking about how situations control the power of women.

Both works use female and natural forms and speak to the roles of women in society." 

Curator Prudence Horne speaking at the opening

It's interesting to see how many of the artists partnered with their real-life partner.