Tuesday, July 7, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 18

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on December 1st, 2009, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 10, Issue 38 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 10, Issue 38

Art reclaimed

Reclamation exhibition at Betteravia Gallery shows items can be beautiful more than once


Telling a story
Juan Manuel Perez said every piece that contributes to his work in Reclamation, like this untitled work, has a meaning. Together, it all creates a narrative.
It’s art. It’s trash. The difference may be subjective, but then, sometimes art really is trash—at least in a sense.

It takes a dedicated heart to recycle items that would ordinarily go in the garbage, but it takes an inspired heart to take those same items and turn them into a bit of thought-provoking visual pleasantry. That’s what the artists in the latest exhibit at Betteravia Gallery did. Reclamation showcases the work of regional artists who use mixed media and found objects to explore ideas about the act and process of transformation and revitalization. The exhibition includes pieces by Larry Delinger, Anthony Hicks, Juan Manuel Perez, Natasha Stanton, and Patti Screen-Smith.

The show came about when county arts commissioner and Allan Hancock College art instructor John Hood asked Hancock art professor and vice president of the Nipomo Arts Commission Cheryl Weiss to curate a show using mixed media and found objects.

“I welcomed the opportunity to showcase some of the many artists whose work I admire and to include those whose work is new to me,” she said.

Weiss said she and Hood often discuss exciting and unusual contemporary art work they’ve each discovered at museums and 
galleries, and she was also intrigued by the work done by students in his mixed media class at the 

“The process of creating art from commonplace or discarded objects is a different way of seeing,” Weiss said. “And something similar happens for the viewer—you have to look with fresh eyes.”

She explained that this type of artwork taps into the imagination of both the artist and the audience. It’s an exercise in perspective, where something that seems worthless—like bones, stones, driftwood, scraps of metal, rain-stained paper, a torn discarded glove, a lost piece of homework, scraps of fabric, things that are usually passed over as junk—are revitalized. That rebirth becomes something new and alive, filled with wonder, poignancy, and often humor, Weiss said.

For instance, Weiss said artist Anthony Hicks creates Jules Verne-like devices from discarded metal objects he finds in thrift stores, at garage sales, and in warehouses. Natasha Stanton finds inspiration from peering at the grain and knots of leftover wood from construction sites and then, guided by their patterns, paints vibrant visionary images. Delinger, Perez, and 
several others in this show create emotionally evocative pieces with found objects, assemblage, and collage.

Art from finds
Artist Anthony Hicks creates Jules Verne-like devices from discarded metal objects he finds in thrift stores, at garage sales, and in warehouses, as in this piece, Jupiter Carbine.
“The show is very eclectic in what it offers the viewer,” Perez said.

The theme appealed to him because he considers reclamation an act of everyday compassion. He said that being a visual artist, it’s easy to think in terms of beauty, but there are other considerations, too: the effect of using those materials, for instance, or what it takes to create them.

He said his work may look like collages of random pieces, but much of it is made up of images or pieces he also created, each one with its own meaning.

“It becomes a pool of ideas speaking to each other,” he explained. “And you have this inherent value or beauty of this object that is implied with the material, so when you put it together, it’s narrative.”

Delinger feels the same way about his pieces. A music composer for many years, he said the process of composing art is much the same; he doesn’t know where the inspiration comes from, it’s just there one day.

“I walk around picking things up all the time,” Delinger said. “Sometimes I know it’s good, and other times I know it’s not.”

What he doesn’t know is what pieces will end up as part of his art. So he collects the promising bits and has about five boxes of materials stored.

“I look at things literally for several years, and then it comes together, and I make something out of it,” he said. “Sometimes it will be that I just had all these pieces there and I didn’t know it went together.”

Weiss said Reclamation has brought 
out not only wonderful art but exciting responses.

“The response has been so rich, and I think the theme is so thought provoking, that I’d love to explore it further in the future,” Weiss said.
She said she was surprised at the variety in how the artists approached the theme. The exhibition includes landscapes, portraits, abstracts, pieces that are subtle, and pieces that are dramatic and vibrant.

“My hope is that we’ve provided a show that is, by turns, accessible, stimulating, full of delight,” she said.

Arts Editor Shelly Cone is often vibrant and dramatic. Contact her at scone@santamariasun.com.

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