5 picks for December ArtHop: Daniel Van Gerpen’s views of the Valley soar
Like many of us who don’t get a true feel for a place until we fly over it, Daniel Van Gerpen couldn’t fully appreciate the beauty and distinctiveness of the central San Joaquin Valley until he saw it from the air.
Pictured above: Daniel Van Gerpen’s ‘Groundwork’ is part of ‘AG|STRACTION.’
Being “above it all” in a low-flying plane and seeing the rising sun reflect off the winding river and cast long shadows across the fields deeply impacted the Fresno artist.
“Since then I have been vigorously trying to capture the light, lines, colors, and textures of the Central Valley through my art,” Van Gerpen says.
You can see his latest work in “AG|STRACTION,” an exhibition at the Peerless Building (1755 Broadway), a new ArtHop venue. The opening reception is 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6. ArtHop is the monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods. (The Fresno Arts Council offers a complete list of venues and times.)
I like how the human-made geometry of the rigidly defined fields in Van Gerpen’s works is juxtaposed with the organic quality of the various rivers, which meander like snakes. It’s an interesting contrast. I also like his use of color.
Much of his inspiration, according to Van Gerpen, comes from areas surrounding the San Joaquin and Kings Rivers, as well as the canals that transport water to various locations. While there are no figures in his work the human influence is quite present, his artist’s statement notes.
“I have always lived in areas surrounded by the agricultural landscape,” he says. “I am inspired by the interaction between the organic characteristics of nature and the river juxtaposed by the man-made geometry of the fields.”
The exhibition includes oil paintings, mixed media work and sculpture.
The other featured artist this month at the Peerless Building is Jessica Dekker.
Other ArtHop picks
SVS Tower Arts Center
The Fresno branch of Social Vocational Services (SVS), an organization that serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout California with a variety of worthwhile programs, is distinctive because it revolves around the arts.
SVS Tower Arts Center (1240 N Van Ness Ave.) is open for ArtHop during alternate months. December’s exhibition is “2018: A Year in Review,” which features stand-out pieces from the past year.
Says Michael Reece, the organization’s creative arts coordinator: “Utilizing a variety of media, our artists at SVS Tower Arts Center are given opportunities to demonstrate their own singular form of self-expression, with pretty amazing results.”
I’m sure this is a very exciting show for the artists selected, and supporting them in the holiday season would be a worthwhile endeavor, indeed.
Also known by the more polite “Scraps” (at least on the Fresno Arts Council website), this ArtHop venue (2019 Tuolumne St.) features an installation by Christian Vargas titled “Can’t Find Shade Under A Lemon Tree.” Tony Stamolis of $CRAP$ writes:
The show is mixed media, with a focus on his ceramic work, which I find extraordinary … Once you dig into Christian’s work it becomes so layered, and SO Fresno. … His aesthetic is heavily influenced by growing up helping his parents sell at the Sunnyside swap meet.
The installation includes a series of ceramic works of St. Jesus Malverde (the “generous bandit”) with Batman on the reverse side of the head.
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Featured artist at Vernissage (2024 N. Van Ness) is Myrna Axt, who will showcase a variety of assemblage work. The exhibition is titled “The Unexpected Pleasure of Objects.”
A description from the gallery:
There is something magical about taking an ordinary, or dilapidated object, and reviving it into something extraordinary. This is Myrna’s belief and goal in all her three-dimensional, found object compositions. She is passionate about engaging her hand and heart by intuitively breathing life into discarded remnants, so these can be appreciated in new ways and shared with others.
Axt has a keen eye and distinctive touch when it comes to assemblage art. Should be a good show.
Spectrum Art Gallery
In a time in which seemingly everyone is snapping (billions) of photos with their phones, Spectrum Art Gallery (608 E. Olive Ave.) highlights something completely different: alternative photographic processes. Works featured are historic processes alongside some innovative experimental and alternative media.
Featured artists include Elizabeth Garcia, Christian Ortuno, Edward Gillum, Donna Hopson, Jesse Merrell and Travis Rockett.
I’m particularly taken with the work of Niclaus Cook, a student at Fresno State. His collection is titled “Ocean,” a series of blue-tinged cyanotypes that “bring awareness of our impact on our environment.” Cook says his hope is to prompt new ideas on how we can restore a balance between us and the ocean. The effect is contemplative and ethereal.
And don’t forget: I’ve already written about two artists whose ArtHop exhibitions continue: Ivana Minafra at 1821 Gallery & Studios; and Robert Weibel at Vernissage. Both are well worth a visit.