February marks the opening of two great exhibits at the Pence Gallery, 212 D St. in downtown Davis, one just in time for Valentine’s Day. Upstairs, our Learning Center gallery is filled with the work of 24 artists centered on the theme of love.
Julie Didion’s ceramic stiletto with heart forms the ladder upon which an eager figure climbs upwards, holding a bouquet. His goal is the heart at the top of the strap; next to him, a giant key lies close at hand, perhaps to the heart of his beloved. Didion’s sculptures always seem playfully seductive, and using shoes as a metaphor for struggle is something that most women can relate to!
Michele Fisher’s ceramic ornate heart includes a large breach in the center. From this hole, the new growth of leaves seems to hint at the power of love to heal and adapt to change.
Flowers as a subject are a favorite among the artists, such as the delightful scenes of poppy clusters by Adele Shaw. She combines watercolor and layers of beeswax to create a composition that is both lively with the movement of flowers, and quiet, in the haziness of its light-filled background.
The quilted piece by Marjan Kluepfel, “Bursting with Love,” also includes a flower as its subject. The flower, composed of triangular pieces of overlapping yellows and oranges, is surrounded by deep blues and purples, heightening the warmth of this gorgeous, opening blossom.
In our downstairs galleries, the Pence is hosting its first juried exhibit of fine craft, selected by Julie M. Muñiz, associate curator of design and decorative arts at the Oakland Museum of California. “By Hand: Extraordinary Fine Craft in California” showcases work that is cutting-edge and has the highest standard of workmanship. Artists were selected for their aesthetic vision and innovative use of materials, including wood, clay, acrylic, textiles and metal.
Pieces on display range from the truly funky (a china cabinet made out of turquoise Plexiglas) to the traditional in terms of materials (needlework and quilts). Regardless of subject or materials, all the selected pieces show a strong sense of design and mastery of technical skill.
Exhibiting artists include Marlene Bloomberg, Susan Brady, Beverly Crist, Dede deGraffenried, Alex Friedman, Tricia Goldberg, Mark Goudy, Bill Heiderich, Franki Kohler, Barbetta Lockart, Emma Luna, Chris Motley, Kathy Pallie, Liza Riddle, Jan Schachter, Louise Schiele, Jeff Snell, Matt Trethric, Melissa Woodburn and Carolyn Zeitler.
Several guest local artists were invited as well, such as Joshua Rutherford, Marjan Kluepfel, Dean Moniz and Paula Wenzl Bellacera.
Please visit us on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. for the award ceremony and opening reception when the exhibition’s first-, second and third-place awards will be announced. View the exhibition, meet the artists and enjoy delicious refreshments.
Copies of the exhibition catalog will be available for purchase. Representatives of the Creative Arts League, our exhibit sponsor, will be on hand to talk about their organization, which organizes educational field trips to various museums in the region.
Young performers from Davis High School’s orchestra will perform classical music from 7 to 9 p.m. For the crafty at heart, volunteers from National Charity League are leading a fun Valentine’s Day card-making activity, which all are invited to try out for free, although donations are welcome.
— Natalie Nelson is executive director and curator of the Pence Gallery. Her column is published monthly.