Review: Chris Baker Pacific

One Rembrandt Inspires Many Forms at Jane Deering Gallery

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

by CHARLES DONELAN


Twelve figures present themselves to the viewer in Chris Baker’s large (106″x 132″) new painting “Pacific” — 13 if you count the chicken. They’re mostly recognizable California types, and with the brilliant sunshine, modern architecture, and laid-back style of their setting, they could hardly be anywhere else. At the center of this majestic, brilliant-hued composition, a guy with a white beard almost holds the attention of a dude in baggy shorts, a red shirt, and a sombrero. To the left, children frolic, and to the right, a trio plays music, defining the image’s limits. Other characters occupy the middle, too, like the blonde in the yellow sundress, or the plaid-shirt man with the ball cap. White beard even has a sort of echo in the form of another white bearded man who stands behind him, gesticulating. Generous with color and light, the picture combines an old-world sense of grace and complexity in its composition with a fresh palette that is worthy of David Hockney at his best.

What’s not immediately apparent, and what makes Baker’s work so interesting and special, is that the inspiration for Pacific, which occupies one entire wall of the gallery, comes not from the likes of Hockney’s iconic “Beverly Hills Housewife” of 1966 but rather from Rembrandt’s much, much more iconic “The Night Watch” of 1642. Hanging on the wall opposite “Pacific” is another of Baker’s large new paintings, the 48″ x 72″ “The Night Watch Abstracted” (2014). Elsewhere on the walls and in the gallery’s flat files, myriad examples, each executed in a different idiom, all point to the same conclusion — Baker is obsessed by “The Night Watch.”

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“The Night Watch, Abstracted” (2014)


If you’re a painter and you are going to become obsessed with a single great painting, “The Night Watch” is the way to go. Packed with endless information not only about the merry band of sitters, who weren’t watching anything when they commissioned the picture from Rembrandt, but also about the possibilities of painting, its visual interest feels unlimited. In his abstracted version, Baker remains remarkably faithful to the arrangement of the figures in the original but lets loose within that with a tour de force of painterly distortions. Dragging a scraper across many of the figures with a light touch and a sure hand, Baker introduces the kind of horizontal smears one associates with a sticky printing roller — or the abstractions of Gerhard Richter. Baker employs other postmodern painting gestures here, as well, and a side-by-side comparison of his painting with Rembrandt’s original in digital reproduction reveals that such techniques as the incorporation of hard, stencil-edged fragments of negative space are in fact nothing new, as Rembrandt was using them in the 17th century.

In a brief artist’s statement accompanying the show, Baker suggests that his project is best understood as a search for order through observation of and meditation on Rembrandt’s sublime sense of composition. While ordinary artists are often reluctant to acknowledge their influences out of an anxiety that they may be second best, for Baker, the influence of Rembrandt would appear to induce a kind of ecstasy. With Pacific, he emerges from the long shadow of “The Night Watch” into the bright light of his own imagination.

http://www.independent.com/news/2014/mar/25/review-chris-baker-pacific/

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ART REVIEW: A Bigger Picture, a Classic Declassified - CHRIS BAKER'S EPIC PAINTING, 'PACIFIC,' TAKES REMBRANDT'S CLASSIC 'THE NIGHT WATCH' AS A DIRECT SOURCE OF INSPIRATION


By Josef Woodard, News-Press Correspondent

March 14, 2014 11:54 AM

ART REVIEW

Chris Baker | Pacific

Despite the presence of studies, back-stories and supportive energies, the current fare in the Jane Deering Gallery basically qualifies as a one-painting wonder.  Even casually walking by the gallery space, Chris Baker’s Pacific screams out to the senses, in a side-of-a-wall, mini-mural kind of way, its whopping 106-inch-by-132-inch dimensions all but lording it over one long gallery wall, and engulfing our sightlines.



Chris Baker .  Pacific  2014 . Oil on canvas . 106 x 132 inches

And yet, if this seemingly casual gathering of figures in an identifiably iconic Southern California setting initially settles easy on the mind -- giving double meaning to the word ‘Pacific,’ as ocean and peaceful feeling -- the conceptual plot thickens and taps into something deeper and art-historically entrenched.  Pacific takes, as it s primary inspiration and model, Rembrandt’s classic and epic 1642 painting The Night Watch, aka its original title, ‘The Company of captain Frans Banning Cocq and lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch preparing to march out.’



Chris Baker .  Night Watch, Abstracted  2014 .  Oil on canvas . 487 x 72 inches


Mr. Baker, who has studios in Carpinteria and Sedgwick, Maine, has maneuvered a post-Modernist flip here, unabashedly channeling and structurally mimicking Rembrandt, while lending a refreshing new twist in the realm of figurative art-making. He switches out the moody and dim-lit nocturnal setting of the original with bright, unrelenting California mid-day, and exchanges the 17th military aggregation for a motley crew of casual-dress Californians, slacker, possible scholars, and a jazz trio appreciated by a baying dog.

But clearly, the formal and organizational connection of the two paintings conspires toward an artistic, odd coupling across centuries, painting idioms and geo-cultural coordinates.  As the artist explains in a statement, ‘This is not a utopian order, nor is it a natural oder.  Rather, it is an alternative oder -- one that is large, wide, in color, imperfect.’

Across the room from the ‘big picture,’ hangs his piece, The Night Watch, Abstracted, service as a kind of point of reference and/or departure from the more than twice-as-large painting across the way.  Elements of the original have been scrubbed, scraped, blurred and blackened, as is windswept by the gusts or art historicist memory and contemplation.

With Pacific, the vast scale belies its ambivalent, easy-does-it, leisure-soaked imagery.  We instantly recognize the archetypal stuff of the SoCal lifestyle, from the swim-suited fashion, shorts (with camouflage pattern, mixed with the colors of the Ethiopian flag -- how SoCal is that?), and the odd presence of an older man positioned in an arch, pontificating pose, a direct lift of the central figure in the Rembrandt.  He is the surrogate 21st century, Californian stand-in for captain Frans Banning Cocq.

These disparate characters are curiously collected here, in a mannered, frozenly theatrical way in this stage, set-like space.  They could have been enlisted from a mega-mall or fresh off the strand in Venice, California, in the lazy, sunlight-kissed atmosphere with mild mountains in the background, a geometric, modernist beach house and the classic eucalyptus tree -- seemingly indigenous to California, but actually a non-native, like so many things on this far coast.

In the dramatic arts, in theater, opera and film, the process of updating and re-contexturalizing old standards of the repertoires is an accepted part of the creative process.  Updating and modernizing Shakespeare or Verdi, say, is a gesture toward making great art universal an of-the-now, as well as a potentially controversial prospect.  In the fine arts, the long arm and ominous echoes of art history feed into what comes next in ways that can be more poetic or twice-removed, or also sometimes realized by moving in an opposite direction.

Mr. Baker’s notion is, at once, bracingly direct, and sneakily complicated. With Pacific, somehow, the careful blend of transformation, adaptation and allegiance becomes a subplot in the fascination of the painting -- and the project itself.  The painting, this one looming tableau of a painting, is the thing, yes.  But it’s also just the starting point.


ART REVIEW            Pacific Study 1.5 2014

                                              Watercolor on paper . 6”x9”                                       

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Chris Baker | Pacific

When:  through March 29 . 2014

Where: Jane Deering Gallery . 128 E. Canon Perdido Street

Hours:  11am to 5pm Tuesday-Saturday . Information: janedeeringgallery.com . 805-966-3334


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ART REVIEW: Landscape, Revisited and Rethought - 'THE LAND HAS MANY PARTS' OPENS THE FIVE-MONTH JANE DEERING GALLERY SEASON WITH PROVOCATIVE AND POETIC IDEAS ABOUT LAND

By Josef Woodard, News-Press Correspondent

January 24, 2014 8:11 AM

ART REVIEW

'The Land Has Many Parts'


In The Land Has Many Parts, the first show of the five-month season at the Jane Deering Gallery, the closest thing to landscape paintings, as we commonly know them, is Julian Kreimer’s Knee and Our Claim to What Is, and close is a relative term.  In these paintings, the Brooklyn-based artist  burrows into thickets of natural underbrush and forest-like terrain, without the usual landscape art bearings of horizons or focusing features of flowers, tree, skylines or other comforting points of familiarity.


Julian Kreimer . Knee  2013 . Oil on linen . 36x36 inches

These busy, bushy areas into which our sense are plunged could be an actual, rugged and unspoiled forest location, or a scrubby nature patch off the interstate.  So much for pretty, neatly composed and idealized pictures plucked from the stuff of nature.  The land in this art has many possible implications, inspiring and foreboding.  So goes the art in the gallery, more generally.

Titled after a page in an illustrated-by-the-British-author, Nigel Peake, from his book, In the Wilds, The Land Has Many Parts involves several artists’ considerations of land -- its meaning, symbolic import, its harsher realities, and state of fragility.  Not incidentally, the show also serves as something of an antidote, or at least alternative, to the prevailing wisdom of the locally popular landscape and ‘plein air’ painting tradition.

In an exhibition statement, the underlying theme of the art in the room has to do with ‘connecting landscape to power, memory, modernity, cultural and climatic shifts.’  All told, the Deering show is a bold opening act as the first of a handful of shows during the mostly Massachusetts-based gallerist’s January-to-May stint out West in her Santa Barbara satellite space.  For several years now, she has been running her Santa Barbara gallery space in various locales, most recently in this atmospherically charged location, across the street from the Presidio.

Set with cool, context-staging dramatics on the back wall of the space, Brooks-trained photographer, Jacob Hessler’s large print Brittle Remains is a minimalist slice of natural life, an eerily arid image of wintry, leafless, tree forms in Namibia.  It suggests a barren landscape, but is very much of this planetary visual vocabulary.


Jacob Hessler . Brittle Remains  2012 . Archival Inkjet Print . 40x60 inches


In another case of landscape tropes rendered afresh, Adin Murray’s Cloud and Light Study series involves muted, black-and-white meditation on the meeting of land, sea and sky, but under bleak-ish, reductive, expressive circumstances.  Land takes on yet another meaning and timbre in the British artist, Hazel Walker’s surprisingly affecting, subtle paints inflected with spare washes of Americana, Elsewhere 9 and Mining Town.  Wisps of architectural forms assume larger significance regarding the mix of structure and land usage, without excessive fanfare.

Elsewhere in the land of alternate landscape painting, Sue McNally’s Ice and Rock Pile finds realism yielding and interweaving with a lean abstractionist’s code of picture-making; and Magnolia Laurie’s oil-on-panel, real-meets-and-mates-with-the-unreal imagery is laced with and informed by poetic titles, between here and nearest land, and it’s hard to trust these qualities.

From a perspective comprehensible to many Americans, including the fast-developing realm of Santa Barbara’s formerly open and semi-agrarian topography, Kim Parr Roenigk’s trio of large, impressive paintings of the Baltimore-area, housing development where she lives, detail the before-and-after reformation and ‘taming’ of once-unsullied soil and land.  It’s the old, familiar story of gentrification and suburbanization, told through light-and-shadow-sensitive paintings of a suburban tract, in which a former farmhouse and vacant lot are sacrificed to the bedroom community cause.


Kim Parr Roenigk . Maple Cliff 1  2009 . Oil on paper . 30x41 inches

As an unintended companion piece to art about the invasion of suburbia into open spaces in and around our cities, Amanda Burnham’s large, imposing and impressive Overpass is a fittingly hectic and dense ink and collage ‘homage’ to the info, population and architectural overload of an unspecific city.  She addresses the subject in the context of a rough-around-the-edges and cartoon-ish portrayal of a cosmos fit to burst, and less organized than surfaces might suggest.



Amanda Burnham . Overpass  2013 . Ink and collage on paper . 40x60 inches


Of the three, Santa Barbara-based artists in the show, Ro Snell fits most seamlessly into the thematic context.  With her piece Distance Tree the melding of subtle, nature reference and allusions to the power of memory - linked to her childhood on a family forma in England -- comes to bear in a way reminiscent of her fine, recent show at MCASB.  Santa Barbara artist, Joan Tanner, who had a solos show at Jane Deering last year, weighs in with a strange, delicate drawing that gives off a sense of material objects and cosmic energies combining, and of feelings of place and vapor colliding.

Suspended from the ceiling over the gallery desk in an odd, yet nature-referential way, OCSB MFA candidate, Sommer Sheffield’s Pupa is a sculptural form suggesting a seashell and cocoon-like enclosure.  This art finds itself in the aesthetic of the ‘found,’ both elaborately and funkily fashioned from reclaimed castaway fabric scraps, an eco gesture not lost in a show about the sanctity, unending enigma and certain vulnerability of the land.

Sommer Roman Sheffield . Pupa  2012 . Discarded fabrics, thread, wire . 30 inches high x 12 inches diameter





ART REVIEW

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The Land Has Many Parts

When:  Through February 15 . 2014

Where: Jane Deering Gallery . 128 E. Canon Perdido Street

Hours:  11am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday . closed Sunday and Monday

Information: janedeeringgallery.com . 805-966-3334


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Reviews of exhibitions in 2013:


The more you look, the more there is to see

By Cate McQuaid |  GLOBE CORRESPONDENT     JULY 09, 2013


Taking shelter

Back in the 1860s, a massive boulder in the yard outside Jane Deering Gallery (which is also Jane Deering’s house) in Gloucester had a little pavilion atop. People could climb up a set of stairs and sit up there, taking in the view of the seashore.

Emily Speed, a Liverpool-based installation and performance artist who explores the psychological complexities of shelter, has created a site-specific work inspired by that boulder. She staged a performance in June. The remnants of the performance remain, specifically a carapace Speed constructed for herself out of cardboard trash she collected on walks around the village of Annisquam. The costume looks like a village, with little buildings jutting up all over it.

Wearing that cardboard shell, she mounted the boulder. Deering says audience members were not aware that she was inside, although her arm was hanging out, like the Wicked Witch of the East’s feet poking from beneath Dorothy’s house, just landed in Oz. People took the carapace for a sculpture. Now, the costume lies as the centerpiece of the installation in the shed beside the boulder, like a skin some critter has left behind.

It’s an odd thing, part structure, part clothing, and part community, pitting security against impermanence. It must have looked particularly fragile up on the boulder, like any human habitation vulnerable to the elements. 

Speed further explores the illusion of safety buildings give us in elegant watercolor drawings that combine imagined buildings with rocks, and in text projected on the wall, such as “architecture is a hazardous mixture of omnipotence and impotence.” We may never truly be safe, but we construct things, ideas, and beliefs to convince ourselves we are. And sometimes these, too, can fell us.

EMILY SPEED | The Boulder Project continues through July 20.  Jane Deering Gallery . 18 Arlington Street . Gloucester MA . 978-281-8051 . By appointment.  www.janedeeringgallery.com  

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Nathan Hayden’s Current Exhibit

New Show at Jane Deering 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

by CHARLES DONELAN


DANCING MAN: Nathan Hayden’s work has a great, instantly recog- nizable identity based on look and feel. The confi- dent, consistent tone of his wall drawings and instal- lations is very appealing, and his current show at the Jane Deering Gallery — called go innocent into the forest my chil- dren — may be his best work yet, and will certainly be remembered as one of the signature one-person shows of the year.

Yet in an important way, it’s what’s behind the work that makes Hayden’s story so interesting and origi- nal. These brilliantly jazzy and syncopated visual cre- ations represent parallel engagements by the artist: One is with the surround- ing landscape of the instal- lation space, but the other is strictly with his own particular creative pro- cess.And what is that? Per- haps it’s best to let Christi Westerhouse, whose frame shop occupies the rear of the Jane Deering Gallery space, handle this description. She told me this story about Hayden’s current installation there:“I was in here working on this big framing job, and Nathan came in to start draw- ing on the walls. He set out his paints and his brushes, he put on his music, and then he started dancing. It wasn’t until he was really grooving that he started to paint, and he never stopped dancing the whole time that he was here painting the walls.” Intrigued by this vignette, I confirmed the observation with Hayden, who is quite open about his practice.“Dancing is integral to my work,” he wrote in a statement accompanying the show.“I dance one hour each day. The danc- ing brings visions from which I synthesize my work.” If this technique sounds interesting to you, or even if you are skeptical and want to see what kind of art could possibly result from getting down, stop by 128 East Canon Perdido Street before the end of May, as the show closes on Thursday, May 30.

http://www.independent.com/news/2013/may/23/nathan-hayden-kate-connell-and-priya-kamblis-curre/


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ART REVIEW: 

His Space is the Place -  

Nathan Hayden creates art of multiple dimensions with his forest-like installation at the Jane Deering Gallery

By Josef Woodard, News-Press Correspondent

May 17, 2013 11:32 AM


Nathan Hayden, 'go innocent into the forest my children'

Elements of surprise and contrast have been amply in the house at the Jane Deering Gallery, especially this season.  THe gallery, which is run by the mostly Massachusetts-based gallerist Deering in Santa Barbara for the first several months of each year, has, in 2013, presented the vari-dimensional art of Joan Tanner, the dynamic duo Keith Puccinelli and Dane Goodman, and, last month, the entrancingly delicate -- and labyrinthine -- drawings of Linda Ekstrom.


For something completely different, the gallery’s current artist-in-focus is the creative lateral thinker Nathan Hayden, whose aptly and tangle named installation ‘go innocent into the forest my children’ effectively transforms the gallery space into a strange, splendiferous wonderland.  With its handing garden of jellyfish-like sculptures and ritualistic drawing gestures on the walls, growing from minute to epic, the artist has effectively owned this space for a month, creating a surreal yet palpable sense of place and mystery within these four walls.


Mr. Hayden was born in rural West Virginia and earned his MFA at UCSB in 2009.  He since has shown at Contemporary Arts Forum and elsewhere in town, and art beyond town.  He has some invitingly peculiar ideas about what makes art, and where and how it can be pushed.  


In his current ‘forest’ exhibition, the yarn-and-wire amoebas afloat at eye level in the room and the artfully faux hieroglyphics ‘de-faced’ walls conspire toward some non-linear but somehow connected language of inquiries, into nature and ancient culture, joined at the contemporary art statement before us.  To get to some kind of kernel of truth and/or inspiration in the artist’s process, move past the larger gestures o the installation to the display as where we find small ‘cards,’ marked up with drawing minutiae and fleeting bursts of text.


From those tiny, detailed expressions in a pocket-sized format, we follow the trail of artistic evidence to a patch of very small, festering area of drawing on the back wall.  That becomes the source for ever larger primitive iconography eventually consuming the back and side wall, making the evolutionary move from micro to uber-macro.


Generally, ‘go innocent into the forest my children’ is a site-specific, site-altering project, pulling us into its own self-defining ‘otherworldly’ realm, even as the traffic -- foot and vehicular -- whizzes by on Canon Perdido, just outside the gallery door.  He follows intuitive and illogical creative impulses, inspired by the physicality of dancing and the intellectual buzz of stray ideas and mental linkages.  In his new piece/space, he writes that he was pursuing ideas ‘that amplifies what I refer to as the subtle psychedelia of everyday existence.’


Of course, one persons’ everyday existence is another’s magical thinking moment.  Finding a way to integrate the two is the ultimate trick , and a beguiling unsolvable problem, but Mr. Hayden has a thing or two to say and ideas to offer on that magical-meets-everyday account.


ART REVIEW

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NATHAN HAYDEN | go innocent into the forest my children

When:  Through May 30 . 2013

Where: Jane Deering Gallery . 128 E. Canon Perdido Street

Hours:  11am to 5pm Tuesday-Saturday, til 6pm on Thursday  .  Sunday 1-4pm

Information: janedeeringgallery.com . 805-966-3334






ART REVIEW: Leading Nowhere to Somewhere - Linda Ekstrom projects her unique drawing sensibility on the theme of various labyrinths, now at the Jane Deering Gallery

By Josef Woodard, News-Press Correspondent


April 19, 2013 12:14 PM

Getting an easy handle on the art and artistic thinking of Linda Ekstrom can be difficult business, to her credit, but the riddling aspects of her work tend to be more logical, focused and concept-driven than first impressions might suggest.  So it goes with her deceptively subtle and mild-mannered new exhibition at the Jane Deering Gallery, ‘labyrinth.’

Her exquisite but never smug series of drawings based on labyrinths, with a few sculptural deviations in the gallery, speak softly but carry some big ideas.  The show is tellingly divided between sources from Christian antiquity, garden labyrinths and manuscript examples as sources from which to vary and recontextualize the contemplative puzzles at hand, mazes through which, as she says in her statement ‘one may feel lost, but one is never lost.’

Ms. Ekstrom’s artistic ways and means include book art -- questioning, deconstructing and reshaping our impression of books -- and drawings, with an angle or two, and sculptures behaving like something else.  In group show appearances in town over the last few years, including ‘Achromatic Variations’ at Deering, ‘Density’ at the Atkinson Gallery and in last year’s faculty show ‘WORK’ at UCSB’s College of Creative Studies, she has tended to appear like the quiet one in the corner with sly ideas rising up out of an introspective place rather than showy verve.

This body of work, she explains, grew out of her interest in land art, perhaps the most famous example of which is circular vertigo and visceral energy of Robert Smithsons ‘Spiral Jetty.’  Of course, Ms. Ekstrom goes in the opposite expressive direction from the splashy ‘Jetty,’ with its knotty fragile realm of small, hermetic-yet-airy drawings.  Ghostly echoes of gray lines play off the more vividly colored lines, like out-of-sync and slightly dissonant harmonies.

Color-coding and other visual distinctions enters into her programming of the different series, from the red and graphite patterns in the ‘Church labyrinth’ series, in patterns which yearn to be resolved but never quite are.  Green and gray forms percolate in the ‘Turf labyrinth’ series, with more rounded and even turf-like patterns, while blue squiggles and visually electric energies mark the ‘Manuscript labyrinths’ series of drawings.

On the back wall, things get physical and three-dimensional with her silver-painted mesh pieces in the droopy synthetic material of handcut tyvek, a three-part series called ‘garden: outside the labyrinth.’  Here, the geometry of the enmeshed lines and patterns is neater and cleaner, ostensibly, except that -- and it’a big ‘except that’ -- the pieces naturally sag, bunch and furl through the manner of their hanging on a single nail.

In another case of the artist’s clever rerouting of perceptions in the gallery, her art book pieces ‘Ariadne’s Love I, II and III’ have ben decoratively adorned and repressed with silver thread.  As such, Ms. Ekstrom bounds and ‘draws on’ books-as-objects, effectively sewn shut and altered from their operable, readable function.

Art with its re-inventive nature meets the conventionally neutral physicality of books, and the first medium entangles with the other.  In a similar way, the artist bases each ‘labyrinth’ drawing on a specific, actual example in the known historical world, but runs the original through her deconstructionist-oriented personal filter.  Rebel impulses aside, she nonetheless kills us softly and leaves no psychic bruises.

ART REVIEW

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LINDA EKSTROM | labyrinth

When:  Through April 28th . 2013

Where: Jane Deering Gallery . 128 E. Canon Perdido Street

Hours:  11am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday . Sunday 1-4pm

Information: janedeeringgallery.com



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 Labyrinths

New Spring Show at Jane Deering Gallery


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

by CHARLES DONELAN



EKSTROM UNBOUND: Artist and UCSB College of Creative Studies professor Linda Ekstrom is perhaps best known for what she has done to the Bible. Her sculptural creations based on the shredding and reconstituting of actual Bibles into hard spheres, soft pillows, and other suggestive shapes, however, are only one small part of Ekstrom’s broad-ranging practice in relation to religion and to the idea of the book.

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Linda Ekstrom’s “labyrinth: church: 17” is based on a drawing of a labyrinth that once existed at the Reims Cathedral but was destroyed in 1778.


In Labyrinth, her current show running through April 28 at Jane Deering Gallery, Ekstrom heads in a new direction, albeit one that originates in the pages of a different sort of book — one cataloguing the world’s most intriguing and extensive outdoor physical labyrinths. Over the last few years, Ekstrom has been opening this special volume (borrowed from UCSB’s Davidson Library on a series of long-term faculty loans) and using it as a kind of automatic stimulus for her drawing practice. With her left, non-drawing hand, Ekstrom traces the contours of one of the plates in her labyrinths book. With her right, drawing hand, Ekstrom mimics the pattern twice, once on the way in, with a pen, in ink, and then again on the way out, with a pencil, in graphite. It’s a fanciful yet concrete way of making these distant spaces into physical realities in the present. By moving through the labyrinth of Ekstrom’s body, from one hand to the other, sacred networks of passage and occlusion that exist in real space elsewhere become phantoms circulating in the labyrinth of the human nervous system. The results are mesmerizing double images that suggest both architectural and mental space. Does the right hand ever really know what the left hand is doing? Get to Labyrinth and decide for yourself. 

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Puccinelli and Goodman

In The Trace Prints Project, Keith Puccinelli and Dane Goodman Draw Together

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

by CHARLES DONELAN

A COUPLE OF NOBODIES: In their new show at Jane Deering Gallery, well-known and prolific Santa Barbara artists Dane Goodman and Keith Puccinelli converge over a dizzying process known as trace printing. A piece of drawing paper is placed onto an inked linoleum block, and the artist then draws on the dry reverse surface of the paper with some kind of stylus. When the first proof is peeled away, a simple print is created, showing a mirror image of whatever has been drawn on the reverse side. In subsequent proofs, the original image comes up as a negative from where the ink has been taken away. At each go, the paper picks up more static and atmosphere from dust, air bubbles, and distortion. The trace printing technique was used to great effect by Marie Schoeff in her January 2012 show Traces, also at Deering, but in this instance, with two artists involved, the drama inherent in the sequencing and multiplicity of the images takes on an added dimension of dialogue.

And what a dialogue it is. It’s an existential circus in these 110 prints, populated by Puccinelli’s now familiar clowns and Goodman’s surrogate, the snowman, along with a broad cast of goofy nobodies, including a guy pushing a lawn mower, a peanut head smoking a pipe, a snake, a buffalo, and one cracked-out crocodile, as well as Abe Lincoln. As the most important recurring figures, snowman and clown go through all kinds of trials and tribulations. In one plate, the melting head of snowman dangles precipitously over a candle while clown, likewise decapitated and dangling, does his best to blow it out. Apparently, clown has snowman’s back, at least on this one. At other times, as when smiling snowman surfs the prone dead body of clown, the message is more ambivalent.

As in the previous work of both artists, not far beneath a playful surface lies a darkly mystical engagement with threshold states — not only the limits of consciousness and the limits of recognition but also the limits of life. The charming small catalog created to accompany the show, which includes a great essay by David Pagel, is called “eating fresh peaches and tomatoes talking about death drawing together,” which I take to be an entirely straightforward and literal description of the way this work was created. If clown is man as, well, clown, then snowman is perhaps understandable as a Duchampian pun on “snowman = ’s no man,” as in “it’s no man.” In this as in so many things, Wallace Stevens has the appropriate last words, and they appear in the last stanza of his poem “The Snow Man.”

For the listener, who listens in the snow, And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Dane Goodman/Keith Puccinelli: The Trace Prints Project will be at the Jane Deering Gallery through Saturday, March 30. 

 


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ART REVIEW: Celebrating In-Between States - The fascinating and hard-to-categorize Santa Barbara-based Joan Tanner is the subject of the current show at Jane Deering Gallery

By Josef Woodard, News-Press Correspondent


February 15, 2013 6:24 AM

ART REVIEW

Joan Tanner | in direct dialogue