November Art Picks

Posted on November 18, 2008 – 7:07 PM | by OldManFoster
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Fig. 4
Eiko Sugi, Patricia Gillespie, Bethany Ayres, and Jacob Fossum.
The Verge Gallery
Through December 13
Reception: November 8, 6-10PM
1900 V Street, Sacramento
Hours: Th – Fr 11AM – 6PM Sa Noon – 5PM
If you’ve driven down 19th Street recently you may have noticed the large figure of a woman tumbling down the side of the Verge project building.   The installation, by bay area artist Patricia Gillespie, is a not-so-subtle clue that the new show is up in the gallery.  Fig. 4 is a show of contemporary figurative works by four northern California artists: Gillespie, Eiko Sugi, Bethany Ayres (all out of the bay area) and Sacramento-based painter Jacob Fossum.  The show is quite a mixed bag of styles: Gillespie’s mixed media works echo romance comic imagery; Sugi’s delicate paper cutouts nearly blend into the wall, teasing the eye; Ayres’ enamel on wood paintings almost seem like otherworldly coloring book images; and Fossum’s large oils evoke the history painting tradition while exploring deeply personal history.  It is Fossum’s work that immediately grabs the eye when you enter the show.  The paintings are quite large, each featuring a main figure that is almost life size.  Rendered realistically, the imagery is heavy with symbolism, often related to the Mormon church.  There is plenty to look at in these paintings, and if, like me, you’re a nerd for rendering skill, check out the hands.  Fossum is good.  If Fossum’s paintings were the first thing I was drawn to, it was Eiko Sugi’s paper cutouts that I kept going back to.  Sugi’s small figures, cut out of white paper and hung on a white wall with pins, are simply elegant.  At first glance the figures seem to be made of wire; it was only on inspection that I realized that what I was seeing were the shadows of the cutouts.  Arranged in small groups, the scenes change as you move around the room, giving the tiny figures a life of their own.   The Verge Gallery is Sac’s newest and largest contemporary art space, and, full disclosure, MM Editor Liv Moe is now on staff there.  The Verge seeks to become a regional art destination and if they keep coming up with shows like this they’re on their way.  -TF

New Work
John Yoyogi Fortes
Pamela Skinner/ Gwenna Howard
Through November
Preview party: November 6, 5 – 8PM
Reception: November 8, 6 – 9PM
723 S Street, Sacramento
Hours: Wed –Sat Noon – 5PM and by appointment

A few years ago I stumbled across John Yoyogi Fortes’ work in a side room at the Skinner / Howard Gallery while there to see another show.  My immediate reaction was, “Why isn’t this guy’s show up right now?”   I should be careful what I wish for, because Fortes has had so many shows in Sac recently that I can scarcely fit them all on my calendar.  I like Fortes’ work a lot; he serves up hamfisted cartoon imagery- sort of Phil Guston meets Skip Williamson- with a street art twist, and then tops it off with a hint of Squeak Carnwath.  The colors are always good and his graphic sensibilities are right on.
I’m greatly looking forward to this show if for no other reason than to see how Fortes resolves Immaculate Rendition, an immense canvas that he’s been wrestling with for thirty-five days, all meticulously documented on his blog.  -TF

CCAS 2008 Benefit Art Auction
Center for Contemporary Art Sacramento
November 6 – November 22
Reception: November 8, 6 – 9PM
Auction: November 22, 6 – 9PM
Hours: Th – Su, Noon to 5PM

Regular MM readers may notice that we’re often hyping these benefit art auctions. (No, we don’t get a kickback.)  I try to hit them all.  My art-buying budget is extremely limited (especially now that my stock in Beanie Babies Unlimited has failed to qualify for a bailout) so I need to make the most out of my art-purchasing dollars.  These auctions are one of the best ways to do just that.  Peeking at the list of 100 artists who have donated to this year’s CCAS auction, I see quite a few whose work is generally on the far side of my purchasing power, but whom I just might stand a chance of adding to my collection if I don’t get in a bidding war with some pesky money-is-no-object art hog; I narrowly missed an amazing Boyd Gavin painting last time around.  Well, OK, maybe not so narrowly.  Anyway, here is just a taste of the more familiar names who have generously stepped up and donated: Ron Peetz, Julia Couzens, Boyd Gavin, Olivia Coelho, Mel Smothers, Shirley Hazlett, Phil Amhrein, Helen DiCarlo, Ron Musser, Evri Kwong… and there are 90 more!  Check out the show on Second Saturday to scope out the piece(s) you like and then come back for the auction itself on November 22.  Tickets for the auction are $35, but A) the dough goes to support CCAS; B) you can apply that money toward purchase if you buy something.  And another thought: the holidays are approaching, and you know that uncle who’s so hard to shop for?  Problem solved. -TF

The Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons
Crocker Art Museum
November 14 – January 11, 2009
216 O Street, Sacramento
Hours: Tu – Sun 10AM – 5PM

Warner Bros. Film Festival
Guild Theater
November 22, Starts at Noon
35th and Broadway

When I was growing up in the early seventies, the classic Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons were played ad nauseum– so often that we all took them for granted.  The Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and Road Runner shorts ran almost continuously on after school TV and many of them were recycled on Saturday morning as well.  For years I dismissed the Looney Tunes as second rate; I yearned to see the legendary Disney shorts from the same period. They were the true rarities, doled out maybe one per month on the otherwise moribund Disney Sunday night show. Then, once VCR technology came in and changed the whole dynamic, allowing you to watch what you wanted more-or-less whenever you wanted, I discovered something funny: the Disney stuff didn’t hold up the way the Warners’ stuff did.  Much of the genius of the Warner Bros. cartoons is that they were never supposed to be ‘superior’ to what they actually were: somewhat lowbrow entertainment for the masses. There was no Uncle Walt to worry about, no one smoothing the kinks out.   That almost slapdash attitude encouraged a vitality in those cartoons that sprang forth from the screen, searing images and sounds into millions and millions of young brains.   Think about it:  is there a single moment that you vividly remember from any Disney short?   Conversely I suspect that most of us can cull at least a half dozen scenes from the Warners’ catalog.  The soundtracks alone (often by Raymond Scott, whose “Powerhouse” still springs to mind any time I see industry at work) are indelibly etched into our culture.  This exhibit boasts 160 pieces, from design sketches to full cells and paintings, tracing the development of the Warner Bros. stable of ‘stars’ and the form of animation itself.  There are a number of child-friendly events scheduled at the Crocker during the show’s run, and don’t forget to check out the Warner Bros. Film Festival at the Guild Theatre on November 22.   Sure, you can get most of this on DVD, but there is nothing like experiencing these shorts in a theater full of laughing kids, just they were meant to be seen.  -TF

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