5 picks for April ArtHop: Richard Silva at Sorensen Studio, Howard Statham at Fig Tree, and more
Richard Silva has long been a beloved figure on the Fresno arts scene. You’ll get a chance to commune with him and enjoy 70 of his best works in a massive show curated by Sacha Lancia and Karen Clark at the Chris Sorensen Studio. It’s sure to be a highlight of April ArtHop, the monthly open house of studios and galleries in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods. (Most venues are open from 5-8 p.m.; for a comprehensive listing, go to the Fresno Arts Council’s ArtHop website.)
Titled “An Evening with the Extemporaneous Richard Silva,” the Sorensen show includes paintings and sculptures.
The curators write:
For those of you who may not know Silva, he is a painter creating abstract expressionist images that illustrate impromptu movements with color, some vibrant and others muted. His wood sculptures invite the viewer to view his everyday inspirations.
Silva, an artist for over 40 years, sought out his goal of becoming a painter by attending the Academy of Art in San Francisco and San Francisco Art Institute and was influenced by many artists of the 50s and 60s. Dedicated to a lifetime of artistically growing, he praises the support of his wife and four children and stated he would not have been able to continue his ambition of pursuing painting without them. While deeply appreciated for his extensive and charming paintings and sculptures, Silva is known for his gentle demeanor, friendliness and ability to make people feel a part of an inclusive community that takes care of one another.
The ArtHop show will also be a party: Mocktails will be available for purchase by D’s Craft Experiences, live music by Ted Nunes, food for purchase by chef William Norbz Dias and custom-created sugar cookies illustrating Silva’s paintings by the Good Baker will be available for purchase. (Yum. I’ve never eaten a fine-art cookie before.)
A closing reception will be held 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 15.
Other ArtHop picks:
FIG TREE GALLERY
Fresno artist Howard Statham’s deadpan wit was often front and center in his works. Shortly before he died in 2012, I wrote a review of a retrospective of his work at Fig Tree Gallery, noting: “When you make a parody of Munch’s famed ‘The Scream’ starring Miss Piggy — and retitle it ‘The Squeal’ — it’s clear there’s a strong sense of humor at work.”
Indeed, Fig Tree Gallery’s new show focusing on Statham is titled “Wicked Wit.” This distinctive event, which opens with an ArtHop reception 5-8 p.m. Thursday, April 6, is a way to celebrate Statham, introduce him to new audiences and raise money for the gallery by auctioning off some of his works. The silent auction continues throughout the month and will close at 2 p.m. April 30.
Statham, who went to Fresno State for a year before transferring to the Art Center in Pasadena, was a D-Day veteran in World War II. He returned to Selma, where he met and married Yolanda and worked for the Selma Enterprise, then later moved to Fresno, where bought a house, planted giant bamboo in the front yard, and then “lived an interesting and productive life while listening to the clacking of the bamboo on stormy nights.” He and Yolanda were married for 63 years.
He was an original co-founder of Fig Tree Gallery.
While his dry wit is evident in many of his works, he also had a darker, introspective side that appealed to me. In my 2012 review for The Fresno Bee, I wrote:
One of my favorite images in the show, “Looking for Jane’s Condo: or, Cesare in the New World,” another computer-generated print. It depicts a darkened urban skyline, with silhouetted skyscrapers dominating a shadowy warren of lower-rise buildings. A black-clad, cap-wearing figure in spotlight (a cat burglar? a police officer responding to a call? Jane on the way home from a Zumba class? I have no idea) is in the foreground, exposed but also well-suited for the environs.
There’s a beleaguered sensibility to the image, funny yet perplexing, sharply enigmatic. It somehow captures a hint of what it’s like to live communally, as most humans do. It’s unsettling.
That’s one thing I like about Statham’s body of work: the way he injects his personality into his best images, but at the same time gently chides you to find your own way. For decades he’s shared that gift with us, and for that we can be thankful.
Statham could be famously prickly with his viewers (and with arts writers), and he didn’t pander. He once wrote: “If you find that some of these pieces prompt an ‘I don’t get it’ reaction, I can only offer the excuse that most of them were done primarily for my own entertainment, and that in the heat of creativity I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about communicating with anyone other than myself.”
I like the idea of an artist’s family donating a body of work to a gallery like Fig Tree because it accomplishes two things: It helps support the gallery financially; and it spreads the work around. This sounds like a fine ArtHop occasion.
Laura Meyer, a Fresno State art professor and member of Corridor 2122, is featured artist for April ArtHop. Her show is titled “Small Explosions, 2020-2023.” She writes:
Each bouquet is a little explosion. Darkness, color, and light are all part of the play of destruction and growth. I feel an affinity between these forms and the movements of my own limbs and lungs and heart. I hope others may also find themselves reflected here.
DOWNTOWN ARTIST GALLERY
Guest artist at Downtown Artist Gallery is Karen LeCocq:
Fresno’s largest makerspace is a nonprofit community workshop. It’s joining with “ArtHop in the Alley” for April. From Ideaworks:
Support local artists and our nonprofit community workshop. We have handmade gifts by members and local artists, fun DIY maker kits, ceramics and woodworking, painting, custom stickers, and usually more than one demonstration. Come see something a little different than most art galleries and maybe even get a free 3D printed or lasered trinket.
April’s highlights include demonstrations of a CNC (computerized router table) and the potters wheel.