Feb Art Picks

Posted on February 18, 2009 – 6:57 PM | by OldManFoster
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Animals in the Drawing Room:
Portraits by Mari Kloeppel
Crocker Art Museum
February 6 – May 31
216 O St, Sacramento
Hours: Tu – Sun 10AM – 5PM

KloeppelPersonalities, thoughts and sometimes even a sense of humor shine through in Mari Kloeppel’s animal portraits. Ten of the artist’s works will be on display in her first museum exhibition, Animals in the Drawing Room: Portraits by Mari Kloeppel, on view at the Crocker beginning February 6.
Inspired by the color, detail and draftsmanship of the old masters, such as Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer and Johannes Vermeer, Kloeppel’s technique is certainly traditional, but her approach to painting animals is not. These are portraits. For each painting she studies her subjects thoroughly, looking for just the right pose and expression that captures their distinct identities.

Horses are the most prominent subjects in Kloeppel’s menagerie. She also paints dogs, rabbits, chickens and cattle, along with less domesticated creatures such as ravens, pelicans and falcons. The species, however, matters less than her personal connection to the animal. She knows most of her subjects, having lived with them for years at her rural home in Elkhorn, north of the Monterey Peninsula. Others she encounters through animal rescues and local environmental activism and advocacy, efforts that often inspire her to paint the wildlife she aims to protect. She finds beauty and intelligence in all of these animals, and within them discovers her muse.

Kloeppel’s commitment to art as a profession was in large part due to her horse Cobahsaan, a 1,000-pound Arab gelding that crushed her in a riding accident. Broken ribs caused her lungs to collapse, and a reaction to medication left her temporarily blind. Her reverence for animals, however, was strengthened, not deterred. During her recovery, she decided that if she were to regain her sight, she would change course and become a full-time artist. She has since done exactly that.  –from the Crocker

MillerSteven J Miller at Axis 
Axis Gallery
February 7 – 28
Reception: February 14, 6 – 9PM
1517 19th St, Sacramento
Hours: Sa – Sun, Noon-5PM

This past summer I was out at the Greens Hotel in Del Paso and noticed a charming, simple, and kind of dumb – but in a good way – piece of work in the hotel’s lobby. Recognizing elements of it as familiar from my recent grad school days as the work of fellow Hornet Steven Miller I went in for a closer gander. My suspicions were correct and I remarked at Miller’s ability to make an intriguing object out of a bunch of rubber inner tubes and a little yellow paint. That ability to transform may be the subtle brilliance in Miller’s work. 

Like so many other aspects of contemporary human existence, the modern military industrial complex as we know it produces a lot of garbage. Growing up rummaging through the drifts of military waste in the aircraft scrap yards around his home in San Diego, Miller found ample fodder to cut his artistic teeth on. The mysteries these objects possess (involving the potential experiments– failed or successful– of which they were the product) is the basis for Miller’s upcoming show. Repackaging these industrial cast-offs for public consumption begs the questions of whether at the end of the day any of it is necessary in the first place. In the meantime Miller will be taking advantage of what the military leaves behind.  –LM

MusserBody Work
Jeff Musser
Midmo Gallery
February 7 – 28
Reception: February 14, 6 – 10PM
1719 25th St, Sacramento
Hours: Open by appointment

Local painter Jeff Musser’s star has been on the rise since he moved back to Sacramento in 2003. Actually, his star was on the ascent before that, beginning when Musser was still in Chicago following his graduation from the Art Institute and he managed to sell a painting to Oprah Winfrey. Yes, that Oprah Winfrey. Though Musser hasn’t been selling to many TV stars lately, he has been racking up an impressive resume of shows (including Flatlanders and the Crocker-Kingsley) and awards. Local Legends, his most recent solo show (Elliot Fouts Gallery, 2007) featured portraits of 20 well-known local artists including Mel Ramos, Greg Kondos and Stephen Kaltenbach, and was well-received by both press and collectors. Musser’s latest body of work explores tattoos and the people who choose to wear them. Interested in the idea that someone would use the “ideas and imagery of another [person] to express who they are in such a permanent medium,” Musser solicited both friends and strangers to pose for him. The results are striking—rich, dark works smacking of his particular favorites, Velasquez and Caravaggio. Musser is a traditionalist (no surprise for an artist who titled a recent blog post about the art world success of Damien Hirst, “I am going to put a gun in my mouth”) who values form and technique over concept. While this attitude can often translate into stale illustrative work, Musser deftly avoids that trap, creating finely painted oils that speak eloquently of contemporary themes. And indeed, in choosing to document tattoo culture, Musser has honed in on what may well be the defining characteristic of his own generation. -TF

Short List

Out of the Blue
Tom Leaver
Winter Flowers
Stacey Vetter
Jay Jay
Through February 21
5520 Elvas Ave

Continuing shows by two regional painters. Leaver’s dreamy paintings could be abstracts or perhaps underwater surrealism– only the artist knows for sure. Vetter describes her ghostly flower paintings as echoes. The analogy captures the wistfulness and ephemeral beauty of her sources.

Stephen Kaltenbach: Lecture
Verge Gallery
February 5, 6PM
1900 V St, Sacramento

Internationally acclaimed artist Stephen Kaltenbach will speak about his work on February 5. Absolutely not to be missed if you care about art.

ViciniPhilippe Gandiol, Vic Vicini
Elliot Fouts Gallery
February 7- March 6
4749 J St, Sacramento
February must be ‘Traditional Painters Month’ with all of the strong representational work on offer this time out. Phillipe Gandiol is a central valley transplant (originally from Paris) who works largely in the plein air tradition. His work has a 1930’s regionalist flavor and benefits from confidently placed color and assured brushwork. I like his architectural work best, and Sacto natives will recognize many of his subjects. Vicini paints out of his home base, (Livonia, Michigan) and we have no idea how Fouts found his work—but we’re glad he did.  Vicini paints meticulously rendered still lifes, often of food, cookware or nostalgic food packaging. The work is beautifully executed– and fun.

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