Elena Harvey Collins is in her first semester as curator of Fresno City College’s Art Space Gallery, and she’s excited about the new exhibition she put together for November. Los Angeles-based Rebecca Campbell is the featured artist. Her intriguing sounding lineup of paintings and installation pieces leads off picks for ArtHop (5-8 p.m. at most venues Thursday, Nov. 2).
Here’s a rundown:
The show’s title: “a little breath that always goes the distance longing requires.” It’s from the poem “Oklahoma” by Fresno-born poet Larry Levis.
The themes: Campbell explores the complexity of identity, the nature of memory, and the representation of women in the art world.
The artist’s backstory: It’s fascinating. She grew up in a strict Mormon family in Salt Lake City, and when she left the church as a young adult, it created a stir, to say the least. One of the things Campbell now explores in her art is that experience. Included in the exhibition are several works she painted in a series called “The Potato Eaters” (a reference to the work by Van Gogh) in which she used her humble, rural roots and family photographs as source material. “The works we are showing are all portraits she painted of her father at different ages,” Collins told me. “They reflect the presence he’s had in her life.”
The installations: The Fresno exhibition boasts two debuts. “Dear Becky” is an installation consisting of large silk panels on which have been screen printed with a hand-written letter from Campbell’s father to her when she left home. (As you can imagine, the letter is filled with disappointment.) “To the one I love the best,” another installation, incorporates silk, metal, sound and light. The theme is thinking about family heritage and the idea that families pass down a visual language. The piece represents a new direction in Campbell’s work about “the subtle ways the places we are from reside in the body,” Collins said.
The portraits: Finally, the third major component of the exhibition is a selection of paintings of women working in all areas of the arts. Collins describes the 17-portrait series, titled “You Are Here,” which the artist started working on in 2015, as “quietly confrontational, addressing gender inequity in the art world.” The women include such names as NPR’s Susan Stamberg, installation artist Jennifer Steinkamp, and visual artist and professor Kyung Sun Cho. Two new portraits are on view at Fresno City College for the first time.
The curator: Collins previously worked in the curatorial department in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland. She’s an artist, too, with her work primarily in video and printmaking.
Details: The Campbell show opens 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, at the Fresno City College Art Space Gallery. An opening reception will be held 5-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, with an artist talk in MS 132 (recital room) in the Music and Speech Building at 6 p.m. that day. The show will be on display through Dec. 7.
Other ArtHop picks:
Fresno Arts Council
Two interesting events this month at the Fresno Arts Council offices: The organization is partnering with Fresno State and the Fresno County Preterm Birth Collective Impact Initiative to showcase the work of New York photojournalist Craig Blankenhorn. He photographed and interviewed mothers who had preterm births.
Also something to look forward to: the unveiling of the new ArtHop logo from the 2018 logo design contest.
Details: Fresno Arts Council, 1245 Van Ness Ave.
Fresno City Hall
We all have to eat. And Chris Janzen, a Fresno Pacific University art professor, has something to say about that. His new exhibition, “Foodness,” is a collection of playful paintings and drawings that explore the surreal nature of our society’s perception of food. You can find it at Fresno City Hall. Here’s his description:
Imagery from mass-media sources like magazines, catalogs, tv, etc. have long been a major part of my art’s subject-matter, but for this show I decided to focus specifically on depictions of food. I find it fascinating that much of our aesthetic expectation of foods comes from photographs of carefully sculpted objects injected with cardboard, airbrushed with paint, and unexpected edible substitutions (for example, mashed potatoes are sometimes used as a non-melting stand-in for ice cream).
Check out his painting “Loop-dee-doo,” which recombines images from fashion magazines and cereal boxes into a surreal illustration of two highly detailed figures surrounded by multi-colored rings:
Details: Fresno City Hall, 2600 Fresno St.
Jeffrey Scott Agency
You’ve never seen a Loteria series quite like this one. Fresno filmmaker Enrique Meza grew up in a Mexican household playing the traditional bingo game during family gatherings and the holidays. In “Loteria La Serie,” his new exhibition at the Jeffrey Scott Agency, he reconnects to these memories and reimagines them in a modern way.
There are 54 big interpretations (24 by 36 inches) in the exhibition.
Details: ArtHop reception is 5:30-9 p.m. at Jeffrey Scott Agency, 1544 Fulton St.
Chris Sorensen Studio and Galleries
Three words: “Nudes in November.” It’s a tradition:
Details: Chris Sorensen Studio and Galleries, 2233 S. Van Ness Ave.
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