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Pence Gallery: ‘Slice’ offers a peek at the best regional art

Carol Ladewig's "Year in Color: February" will be among the artworks exhibited in the Pence Gallery's second annual juried exhibit, "Slice: A Cross-Section of Regional Art," which opens June 14. Courtesy photo

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From page A10 | June 05, 2013 |

The Pence Gallery unveils its second annual juried exhibit, titled “Slice: A Cross-Section of Regional Art,” on Friday, June 14. Selected by Rachel Teagle, director of the Jan and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, soon to break ground on the UC Davis campus, the paintings, photographs and sculpture chosen exemplify the diversity of our burgeoning arts scene.

As Teagle wrote, “in the ‘Slice’ submissions I found a range of media, techniques and prerogatives that have impressed upon me how lively the arts are in the region. As I selected work for this year’s ‘Slice,’ color and the aesthetics of science emerged as interesting and contradictory themes around which to organize the exhibition.”

One artist, Carol Ladewig, decided to chart her daily events on small paintings, which she later assembles in a sort of visual journal, one per month. Her artwork “Year in Color: February” is exclusively made up of colors mixed from four colors of paint that are altered by her interpretation of that day’s activities. It’s nothing so simple as “I feel blue” — but much more complex with self-imposed rules about lines marking her waking, sleeping and other daily acts.

In some ways, her painting reminds me of how we often try to slow time, either through writing, photographing or, in her case, painting. Color impacts our language to a great extent, especially in regards to feelings, thus I encourage visitors to view this thought-provoking painting to see if they can interpret the artist’s general emotional response.

During our Second Friday ArtAbout reception on June 14 from 6 to 9 p.m., Teagle will announce the awards for first, second and third place at 8 p.m. We hope you can join us to chat with the artists, sample some refreshments and see this exciting new exhibit of work.

From 7 to 9 p.m. that night, Barnyard Theatre will present a selection of new plays to the public for free. To the folks who remember the Pence’s role as an outdoor stage for a variety of local theater groups, this may encourage some nostalgic memories! Last month’s cowboy radio drama by the Acme Theatre Company was so much fun to have at the Pence, we just had to have more performances outside.

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For those more into music, the Pence is for the first time a venue at the Davis Music Festival on Saturday, June 22, with performances from 1 to 8 p.m. Highlights include The Verge, Davie Hafter, Camilla Ortiz, and Zorelli, and it all takes place in our back courtyard. Tickets are available at Armadillo Music, 205 F St., for $25. For more information, see www.davismusicfest.com.

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The week following the Music Fest, we open a long-awaited retrospective exhibit on Sacramento artist Kurt Edward Fishback, titled “Face Forward,” on view from June 25 to Aug. 11. Fishback is well respected for his thoughtful black-and-white photographs of California artists in their studios, a series that he began in the early 1980s.

Armed with a Pentax 6 x 7 camera, a few recommendations and letters of reference, Fishback also journeyed to New York City in 1982, to photograph artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Chuck Close and Alex Katz in their studios. Using only available light, Fishback’s goal was “to place the subjects in their studios or environments to help define them.”

Focusing on the studio, that creative space where stuff actually happens, not only helps one understand an artist’s process, but can lead to greater understanding about the work itself. I think of Viola Frey, a ceramic artist based in Oakland, seemingly lost in her own back yard full of her female figures, which suddenly resemble alter egos.

Looking forward, the public reception for “Face Forward” will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 12. In conjunction, the Pence will host a variety of programs, including an artist talk and a portfolio review session with Fishback. For more information, call the gallery at 530-758-3370.

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

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