ArtHop pick: This ‘gallery’ comes in a 40-foot shipping container. Artist Isa D’Arleans doesn’t want you to get too comfortable.

Isa D’Arleans wants to change the world. No, scratch that. She wants you to change the world.

Pictured above: Isa D’Arleans’ ‘Peace’ is part of the exhibition.

Which is why the seasoned artist has worked for six years on “No Time to Waste,” an immersive, multi-media art installation that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen at Fresno’s ArtHop. (The monthly open house of studios and galleries in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods officially returns for its first post-pandemic event from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, July 1.) I got a preview tour of the show earlier this week. It is a product of an artist determined to put such issues as climate change, gender inequality, LGBTQ rights, homelessness, racism and others at the forefront — all under the banner of The Progressors, the non-profit organization she founded.

There’s an aura of mystery about “No Time to Waste.” I liked the feeling of stepping into the 40-foot shipping container — designed to be put on a truck and taken across the country — without really knowing what I was getting into. Part of me encourages you to skip this story and preview video and simply make your way to The Pi Shop at 1755 Broadway, which is hosting the exhibition for ArtHop, to experience it yourself with no preconceived notions. It’s free, it’s air-conditioned, and this ArtHop debut will be the first time the show is open to the public before a planned move to Los Angeles.

But for those who need a little more information before committing, here is a live interview I conducted on Facebook with D’Arleans:


Further background:

The artist: D’Arleans was born and raised in Lyon, France, before moving to the U.S. 30 years ago and eventually making her home in Seattle and then California. With a background in design and fashion, she shifted into painting. Her most recent art exhibits include the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in NYC, the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris and Chapman University. But about eight years ago, she made the decision to stop selling her paintings and moved more into the sphere of artistic activism.

The local connection: D’Arleans moved to Fresno because of romance, and the city has been a base of operations for her. This ArtHop debut will serve as sort of a test audience for the exhibition. Sponsors include The Pi Shop and Blue Dolphin Engineering.

The “gallery”: It’s designed to be immersive — and jarring. D’Arleans will take people into the exhibition two at a time, and you’ll have just two minutes to experience the 21 paintings, video (by collaborator Skylar Thomas) and audio contained within. (“I don’t want people to get too comfortable in there,” she says.) The lighting is moody and the sensory overload is high. After you exit, you’re encouraged to go to the exhibition’s website and dwell more on the works. Or, you can stand in line and go through again.

The Munro Review

Top: The shipping container with ‘No Time to Waste’ inside. Below: Isa D’Arleans will accompany visitors to the exhibition.

The impact: The paintings are ethereal, colorful, meditative and often piercing. The most provocative quality is the cacophonous nature of the experience, both visually and aurally. If there’s one word I’d use to describe the exhibition, it’d be throbbing. Throwing all these important issues together — and then limiting my time to look — made my heart beat faster. I could sense the urgency. And that, I suspect, is exactly what D’Arleans wanted me to feel.

The generational push: D’Arleans is in her 50s, and she’s intent on collaborating with younger artists (such as Thomas and Carlotta Harlan) to expand her message. “I wanted young people involved,” she says. After all, those younger generations are going to have to deal with a messy world that us older folks will leave behind.

More musings: Beyond the subject matter, I’m also intrigued with the format of the show. In our defiantly digital age in which images from around the world are available instantly online, “No Time to Waste” is actually pretty old-fashioned in that it’s designed to physically travel from one city to another. (D’Arleans hopes to put together a tour that includes college campuses, small towns, big cities — anywhere people are interested.) In that regard, the format is a throwback to 19th century America in which famous paintings often went on “tour” — not to museums, necessarily, but as standalone attractions in which people paid to view a work by itself.

The takeaway: Surprising, vivid, anxious, whimsical — the exhibition is all these things, but it’s also inspiring. I love the passion behind the art. It’s a must-see on your ArtHop itinerary.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Jackie Ryle

    Thank you for this amazing article and video, Donald. Because of my inability to tolerate heat, I was not able to attend for ArtHop. I love getting a quick view through this experience. Will it continue to be available for experiencing? Thank you, again!


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