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Pence Gallery: ‘Art with Heart’ is a visual translation of love

By From page A3 | February 05, 2014

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Leslie DuPratt's "Chocolate Candies" is on display this month as part of the Pence Gallery's "Art with Heart" exhibit. Courtesy photo

Last month around the time of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I heard the best quote by King that befits this month of February, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” That laid-bare sentiment is one that is shared by many of the artists in our “Art with Heart” exhibit, on display now through Feb. 23 at the Pence Gallery, 212 D St.

“Art with Heart” boasts a variety of pieces created by 19 local and regional artists, from gorgeously rendered paintings and delicate sculptures to intricate pieces of jewelry. Each piece was crafted with the intent of expressing the idea of romantic love or friendship.

Whereas many depict the traditional gifts that are given on Valentine’s Day, such as a selection of chocolates by Davis artist Leslie DuPratt or a bouquet of roses by Philippe Gandiol, other works of art deal with the abstract concept of love in a more pensive way. Magdalene Larson’s “Measured Love,” assembled from wooden rulers, shares a sensibility with Dede DeGraffenried’s small bronze hearts, which are either sliced open, or covered in thorns.

Despite their difference in terms of media or sentiment, each artist has depicted something truly unique about that powerful feeling we call love, which we choose to celebrate to great heights during February. Participating artists include Roma Devanbu, Gandiol, LaVille Logan, Emma Luna and Nancy LaBerge Muren, among others.

KidsCreate Valentine’s Day Crafts, led by artist Alison Flory, return to the Pence on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. This is our most popular offering for kids ages 3-12 year-round, as we have three craft projects to enjoy. Young artists can create hand-made valentines with tissue, ribbon and colorful materials, or assemble a heart-felt sun catcher that sparkles in the sun. Using heavy foil, a child can emboss a frame with decorative elements perfect for framing a photograph as a gift.

The workshop will be loads of fun, and no RSVP is necessary. Call 530-758-3370 for more information; the cost is $6 general or $4 for Pence members.

This month’s Second Friday ArtAbout reception — from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14 — includes a free craft project inspired by Valentine’s Day, as well as chocolates and our traditional reception fare for all. Join us to see our continuing exhibits, one by DuPratt of her beautiful still-life and self-portrait paintings, and in our larger space, a group juried exhibit on the theme of art and science titled “The Consilience of Art & Science,” on display through Feb. 28.

In this third Consilience exhibit hosted by the Pence, in collaboration with the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion program, 25 works of art in all media are on display that delve into various areas of science — botany, astronomy, genetics, the history of science and more. It’s a fascinating exhibit that encourages visitors to consider how the very tools of investigation that scientists employ are also commonly manipulated by artists in their own process.

One of my favorite pieces, as I narrowly avoided becoming part of it, is Evan Clayburg’s “Method for Human Communication.” Using himself as part of a performance piece on opening night, Clayburg literally attached himself to the computer screen, enveloping his head in a hood that only allowed him to view the activity present on the screen. Via a web cam, visitors’ actions and discussions on the other side of his monitor were transmitted.

As they viewed the companion screen on the other side, visitors realized that Clayburg could see and respond to them. Their reactions, such as mine, which was to run away, range from humorous surprise, to provocative engagement. It is truly a piece that reflects its time, and denotes the gap in communication between humans that seems to be magnified through technology.

I hope you will drop by to see the piece in person, and to enjoy the video as it progresses.

— Natalie Nelson is executive director and curator of the Pence Gallery; her column is published monthly.

Natalie Nelson

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