It’s been a wonderful beginning to the new year at the Pence Gallery. Our exhibit, “Between the Quotes: Work by the UC Davis Art Faculty,” continues through Feb. 29. Spanning two rooms, the exhibit looks at recent work by 12 members of the art department, and includes paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture and video by these well-recognized artists.
Four of them will be present at our panel discussion from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the gallery, 212 D St., so please come join us. This lively talk will include topics such as how to educate the next generation in the arts, and the changing role of the artist.
While the exhibit as a whole proves there is no universal “style” or theme that unifies the faculty in their work, the medium of photography seems to be a common tool among more than a handful. Three of the artists use photography as a medium to express completely different worlds.
Lucy Puls creates mixed-media installations and drawings that rely on photography to document objects left behind in foreclosed homes. Traveling with her camera, she spent hours capturing signs of use in these now-abandoned places.
Finding that key home fixtures and equipment would be gone or dismembered on the ground, she became interested in showing these gutted elements. Spliced photographs are even collaged to form cords in this drawing, so that they pop off and spiral downward like a real electrical cord attached to an appliance.
Youngsuk Suh is more of a traditional photographer, in that his work revolves exclusively around images shot in California state parks and Bureau of Land Management lands. For years, Suh has explored how photographs of landscape imagery are part of a complicated heritage of Western exploration and conquest.
Recently, he traveled with firefighters, covering their training and deployment during the summer fire season. His large-scale color photographs on display show a narrative of before the fire, in which a lone firefighter sprays down a hill before a prepared burn, and then after the fire, in which two silver fire shelters are exposed amid a fog of thick smoke.
Matthias Geiger’s black-and-white portraits of visual and performing artists form part of his new series, “The New Now.” Together with shots of leaders in the environmental movement, the series frames a group of creative people working outside the traditional gallery system.
Sculptor Gerard Minakawa creates elaborate architectural structures completely out of bamboo, mainly at festivals and alternative public events. Geiger’s photo of Minakawa catches the artist as he balances comfortably on a selection of a bamboo sculpture, his youthful energy and drive apparent from his focused expression and upward glance.
Geiger’s photos narrow in, exposing an intensity and at times, a wild expressiveness, that marks each captured artist’s personality and working space.
In addition to the UCD art faculty exhibit, the Pence is exhibiting figurative sculpture and paintings by three female artists, titled “It Figures,” Feb. 3-26.
Maryann Steinert-Foley’s paintings of the female form resonate with dappled color and light. Her figures are energetically rendered with broad brushwork, and are a delight to view.
Marty Murphy, once a painter often seen about town, marks her artistic return with a series of women in bold, eye-catching colors. Susannah Israel, a Oakland-based ceramic sculptor, rounds out the group with figures both playful and mysterious.
Join us for our public reception, where you can meet the artists, hear live music and enjoy refreshments with friends. The Pence is open Friday, Feb. 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. as part of the communitywide Second Friday ArtAbout.
Continuing onward, we have our popular kids’ program, KidsCreate, on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., centering on Valentine’s Day. This‘no- RSVP session is open to all, ages 3 and up, and will include three to four projects such as card-making, mixed-media hearts, and watercolor messages led by local artist Janice Purnell.
The cost is $4 for members or $6 for nonmembers.
— Natalie Nelson is executive director and curator of the Pence Gallery. Her column is published monthly.