This month, as we swing into gear following our successful Garden Tour last month, visitors may sense a burst of freshness at the Pence Gallery, 212 D St. in downtown Davis.
Spurred on by a sudden opening in our exhibit calendar, as well as an overriding community interest in having a juried exhibit again, I decided to invite artists to submit work for “Slice: A Juried Cross-section of Regional Art.” On display beginning Friday and continuing through July 5, “Slice” includes work by well-established artists as well as emerging artists (i.e., newbies).
It’s always hard to characterize juried shows, as they depend on what is submitted, and our juror was greatly impressed by the depth of concerns addressed by the submitting artists. Juror Diana L. Daniels, the Crocker Art Museum’s associate curator of contemporary art, chose pieces to play with and off one another, and that were challenging formally and conceptually. In viewing her selections, it’s easy to see the appeal of several pieces that I’ll highlight.
Nancy Bardach’s art quilt, “Oh! Rocka-a my Soul!” takes off on the traditional quilt pattern Rolling Wheel, in which a pinwheel shape of contrasting fabrics forms a block. Inspired by the recent dance “Revelations,” produced by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company and set to gospel songs and spirituals, the quilt’s pinwheels sudden represent the swirl of the dancers’ skirts. Even her eccentric patching and seaming alludes to the “improv” quality well known in black American quilting.
Shenny Cruces’ art, also selected for “Slice,” looks anything but improvisational. Her “Georgian Collection” is an orderly installation piece constructed of oodles of hanging porcelain cups and a gorgeously ornate dresser, looking like it was transported from 18th century England.
Her cups are found in antique stores, screen-printed with decorative elements, and assembled with other little figures such as angels or birds that she creates herself.
The act of collecting china, and of passing it down from generation to generation, is a tradition that still connects one generation of older women to the younger. When the Pence put out a call for donated china teacups for its Tea & Tour program, I heard stories with each set or individual cup that arrived.
For others, china cups are an old-fashioned sign of domesticity that doesn’t really fit into the busy world of women’s lives. (Try to sell your teacups at an antique store — they don’t want them!)
Also on display at the Pence, and opening Friday, is a two-person exhibit titled “Horror Vacui.” For artists Tiffany Schmierer and Sharon Virtue, the modernist phrase “less is more” just doesn’t sum up their ceramic work. “Horror vacui,” meaning “fear of empty spaces,” or in art terms, a desire to cover surfaces with a density of pattern and detail, captures their work perfectly.
Schmierer’s multilayered compositions are assembled environments with dense detail that reflect the excess of visual information in today’s world. Referring to her pieces as 3D collages, she layers painted, printed and carved imagery with recognizable and abstract forms.
Virtue’s work is largely figurative, with parts of heads, torsos and hands elaborately tattooed with complex patterns. Gold leaf, and vibrant, fluorescent hues give her figures an exotic, almost otherworldly appearance.
“My works narrate stories of shape shifting, initiation, metamorphosis and power,” Virtue says. “They contain mythological beings, which exist amidst the veils of humankind, the natural world and the supernatural.”
We invite you to meet the artists and see their amazing work, at our Second Friday ArtAbout reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. This exhibit is supported through the generous funding of Jim and Sue Smith.
For our young artists, in honor of summer solstice, the Pence’s KidsCreate program from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 24, will use the power of the sun to create sun prints with natural and manmade materials. Participants should bring in flat objects with great outlines! Then, kids will sculpt sculptures and pendants, inspired by ancient Mesoamerican symbols of the sun.
For those interested, information and a take-home activity also will be introduced as part of the Davis Art Center’s new DiscoveryArt program, being launched this summer with an interactive exhibit called “Cross-Pollination: Sharing Art. Sharing Ideas,” looking at creativity and the natural world.
The program costs $6 general and $4 for Pence members. RSVPs are suggested to (530) 758-3370 or [email protected].