One of the great things about ArtHop, the monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods, is that it’s year-round. We don’t take the month off in Fresno just because it’s a little toasty outside. Here’s a list of five cool picks for August. ArtHop at most venues runs 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, but check the Fresno Arts Council website for variations.
M Street Arts Complex
I like the way Kerby C. Smith thinks. He waits until the hottest time of the year to unveil his new exhibition of 18 images he photographed in January through March in the Yosemite Valley as the park was buried in winter’s bountiful snowfall. My guess is that your internal body temperature will go down a few degrees just looking at these crisp and creative works. (And it helps that the M Street Arts Complex galleries are air-conditioned.) I caught up with Smith to chat about “Cool in July,” which has been extended through August. The exhibition is sponsored by the Fresno Arts Council, the Chris Sorensen Studio, Electric Motor Shop, Horn Photo and Abby Pet Hospital.
Q: What can you tell me about your photographic process?
A: It was all digital. Images were made with a Nikon 800E, a Sony A7 RII and an Apple iPhone 7+. Some of the images were shot with either the Nikon or Sony camera on a Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripod with a ball head. Other images were handheld. It really depended on the snow and the weather.
Q: Tell us about a few of the images of the show and their backstories.
A: It was late January after a snowstorm. Terry Robinson (his partner in the project) and I took Highway 140 along the Merced River into Yosemite National Park. While there was snow along the highway, the river kept the low road into the park warmer than the mountains above it. When we passed through the stone archway just past the park gate, everything changed. It was like a magical doorway into winter. It reminded me of the children entering through the wardrobe into Narnia. We stopped along the Merced River pull outs and got snow in our boots as we stopped to photograph the icy river below us. When we came to the Pohono Bridge we stopped again. I decided to shoot a panorama of the bridge and trees with heaping mounds of delicious icing. I shot one panorama and a car pulled just past the bridge. A woman in a red parka got out. She was facing up river as I started my second panorama sweep facing down river. I finished it and looked back. She was gone. It is one of my favorite images in the exhibit. The one spot of red in a field of black and white was a moment of imaginary realism.
Another special time was in March, again after a snowstorm. The week prior had been warm. The grasses were green and there was so much water from the storms and runoff that Cook’s Meadow was flooded. There is not normally a pond in the meadow. But that day in March it had appeared, creating a reflecting pool. Because of the warm weather before the storm the frogs had come out of hibernation and they were singing. It was a joyful chorus as I walked around the pond to see Half Dome reflected in it.
Q: How did you print the photos?
A: There are 18 images printed on metal by Horn Photo in the exhibit plus one limited edition poster. The Horn metal prints are the latest technology using archival ink on specially coated aluminum plates. The archival ink is sealed with a gloss laminate top layer. It gives a depth to the images that you do not get on paper. One visitor to the exhibit looked at “Winter Shimmer” and talked about how she could walk into the image and travel for miles in it.
Q: Tell us about your coldest day in the field.
A: It was in January, and the snow was up to my knees. I wore fingerless gloves but I had to keep putting my hands in my down vest to keep them warm. I also kept my camera batteries next to my body to keep them warm. The cold will drain your camera batteries rapidly, thus, the need to keep them warm.
Q: Did you make any snow angels?
A: No, we didn’t want to get snow in our cameras, but we did throw a few snowballs and pose with a snowman.
Details: “Cool in July” runs through Saturday, Aug. 12, at the M Street Arts Complex, 1419 M St. Smith will be on hand at August ArtHop (5-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3) and August Second Saturday (noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12).
M Street Arts Complex bonus: While you’re checking out “Cool in July,” don’t forget Gallery 25’s “new members” show in the same building. The show features Steve Norton, who will be showing a few old favorites and a few new pieces from his Vintage Pop series; Caroline Jackson, whose photography has a theme of alienation and separation; and Bryson Bost, who will reflect on “memorable stretches of time that have poured passion upon us through mixed media using acrylics and inks.” Along with ArtHop, a good time to visit is “Second Saturday,” noon-4 p.m. Aug. 12. The Gallery 25 exhibition runs through Sept. 2.
Spectrum Art Gallery
Are you drawn to dilapidated interiors and exteriors of buildings? I know I am, at least from a photographic standpoint. (Perhaps not so much to live in.) In his new exhibition “Shapes and Shadows” at Spectrum Art Gallery, Greg Hubbard is drawn to and inspired by that dilapidation.
Some photographers still use traditional methods. Hubbard is one of them. He shoots 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ medium format black and white film, which helps give his work an authoritative, archival feel.
Hubbard is a former photographer for the Merced Sun-Star. He currently teaches photography full-time at Fresno City College and has just finished his term as department chair of visual media technology.
Details: Runs through Sept. 3 at Spectrum Art Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave.
The promotional poster for “Resurrection,” a new exhibition of works by the late queer artist Tony de Carlo at Fres.Co, is riveting in several senses of the word: It depicts a bare-chested Latino man pierced with a clump of nails in his cheek, arms, neck and chest, as if someone tried to tack him up to a wall. Yet it isn’t an oppressive feeling image; the man radiates a sense of strength and even empowerment. It makes me want to see more of the works in this show, which comes from the private collection of Xavier “Chico” Garza.
From the show’s description:
Many of his paintings represent the life and culture of homosexual people. He also depicted the dark aspects of homosexuality including their pain, suffering and deaths. He incorporated surrealism, eroticism, and masculinity as vehicles of social protest in his quest for liberation for the gay community. He did this using the religious imagery, colors of saints in cathedrals, statues, paintings and stained glass windows. He first started painting saints as a response to the Catholic Churches’ attacks on, and demonization of gay people. Because he believed saints were “man-made inventions”, he began adding his own saints to the list, some sarcastic, some comical, but all of them with the same number of miracles as the “real ones.”
Fres.Co is a vibrant ArtHop stop that deserves your attention.
Details: 6-10 p.m. Thursday at Fres.Co, 1918 Fresno St. (next to the Crest Theatre).
Bitwise South Stadium
I like offbeat ArtHop offerings, so this was sure to catch my attention: Kirk Cruz’s new show is about ink pens. According to Bitwise’s relentlessly cheerful anonymous ArtHop cheerleader, Cruz will be “traipsing through the world of color theory with permanent ink pens, like Sharpies and BICs, and the results are amazing. Don’t believe it? Well, come on down and take a look for yourself! Kirk will be doing a LIVE demo in the first-floor lobby and his installation will be on the second floor.”
The description continues:
The night wouldn’t be complete without a lil’ extra. That’s just how we roll ‘round here. On top of the awesome ink pen art of Kirk, there will be an exhibit by Arthouse on the first floor, plus Mabel’s Kitchen / Dolce Cucina will be dishing up vittles and her special Ice Cream Paninis. No joke, you have to try one. And we aren’t stopping there! The Fresno Poet Laureate (Bryan Medina) will be in the theater with his poet friends doing live readings for your listening pleasure.
Bitwise as an ArtHop stop isn’t open every month, but when it is, it’s definitely an event. It’s located at 700 Van Ness Ave., and you can pop in between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays to catch the ink-pens exhibition.
A reminder and carryover from last month’s ArtHop: The package of exhibitions at Arte Américas, all of which continue through Sept. 19, is outstanding. Don’t miss “Futurespective,” a show of next-generation artists who were part of the now closed Arthouse, a 6,500-square-foot dilapidated warehouse transformed into an art space. The building was closed after Oakland’s Ghost Ship fire because of increased scrutiny by local fire officials, but the legacy of the Arthouse remains. As Arte puts it: “Opportunities for members of the collective to showcase works at new venues and festivals are presenting themselves now more than ever. The founders are committed to continuing the presentation of group shows like this one, in addition to mentoring and inspiring new artists.”
When you walk through the main gallery, you can’t miss “Double Headed Bird” by Creighton Geigle and Josh Wigger, pictured at center in the photo above. It’s one of my favorites.
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