Politics, art and marriage

Prompted by spirited discussions with her husband, Leslie Batty finds her political voice in “Redress” at the Fresno Art Museum

In “Redress,” Leslie Batty’s politically charged new exhibition at the Fresno Art Museum, there are no self-portraits. But you do get to meet the artist’s husband. A work titled “Man Descending Staircase” prominently features a nearly life-size Dustin Batty. He is depicted as a tall, handsome, elegantly dressed figure wearing a vintage dark suit at the top of a luxurious looking staircase. He’s as chiseled and dapper as a character in “Mad Men.”

Redress sm-1-57cropped
Five friends: Leslie Batty’s exhibition “Redress” includes a series of portraits of close friends modeled on Michelangelo’s sibyls from the Sistine Chapel. Photo / Michael Karibian

The painting — which the artist affectionately refers to as “The Dustin” — was first inspired by a photograph that she snapped of him in a Madrid apartment building they were staying at while on a European vacation. She loved the composition and the light.

Continue reading “Politics, art and marriage”

5 picks for August ArtHop

From Kerby C. Smith’s bracing winter photography at M Street to the glory of ink pens at Bitwise, here are promising options for Thursday

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.

Pohono Bridge 3000w
Woman in red: Kerby C. Smith’s “Pohono Bridge.”

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.

Continue reading “5 picks for August ArtHop”

Sunsets and Vivaldi

At Festival Mozaic, I get the chance to experience three beautiful concerts at three even more beautiful San Luis Obispo County locales

SHANDON — The folks at Festival Mozaic know a thing or two about good timing. As the last rays of the sun scrape over an adjacent ridge, the professional chamber orchestra before me begins the final movement of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Music spills out the open doors of the small and spectacular Serra Chapel, a Mission-style building situated high atop one of the rolling hills a few miles outside Paso Robles, and into the tiled courtyard where I’m sitting. By the time the music has ended and the 500 or so people squeezed into the space have risen to applaud, the sky has darkened to black, the stars emerged and the broiling temperature has dipped to goose-pimple cool.

chapelworked2
Hilltop serenade: The audience at Festival Mozaic before the July 22 concert at Serra Chapel in Shandon begins. Photos / The Munro Review

It’s a glorious way to conclude a concert of classical music.

Continue reading “Sunsets and Vivaldi”

Donald’s list: Weekend choices (July 28)

Options include Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, the second weekend of California Opera’s summer festival and “Eurydice” at the Fourth Wall Theatre in Visalia.

Here’s a rundown on promising cultural events for the weekend:

mozaic1
Refreshing: San Luis Obispo’s Festival Mozaic continues for a second weekend through Sunday, July 30. Photo / Festival Mozaic

Festival Mozaic

Where was I last weekend? Not in boiling Fresno. A quick trip over to the cooler Central Coast for a first-time visit to San Luis Obispo County’s Festival Mozaic has turned me into a hardcore fan.

I already walked you through the nuts-and-bolts of the festival in advance of last week’s opening. And next week, I’ll share some detailed reflections on the three concerts I attended last weekend, including an unforgettable musical moment on the top of a Shandon hillside as the sun set.

Continue reading “Donald’s list: Weekend choices (July 28)”

5 picks for July ArtHop

From James Dean at K-Jewel to an artistic musical bash at Tower District Records, here are promising options for the monthly open house of galleries and studios

If it’s the first Thursday of the month, it must be ArtHop. My own arts home might have changed recently, but at least one thing is still the same: my picks for this popular monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District areas. Here are five venues that sound promising:

Marilyn Monroe
Entertainment icon: S.W. Parra’s ‘Marilyn Monroe.’

K-Jewel Art Gallery

S.W. Parra, or “Surfwest” as you might know him under more breezy circumstances, is a well known local artist thanks to his long tenure as a cartoonist and illustrator at a certain Fresno daily newspaper. In January I was wandering through the Chris Sorensen Studio “Black and White” show when I bumped into Parra and his big, award-winning entry in the exhibition: a 5-foot-by-6-foot painting of James Dean titled “Icon.”

Continue reading “5 picks for July ArtHop”

5 picks for Fresno’s June ArtHop

From summer typography to Hmong memories of the Secret War, here are promising options for the monthly open house of galleries and studios

If it’s the first Thursday of the month, it must be ArtHop. My own arts home might have changed recently, but at least one thing is still the same: my picks for this popular monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District areas. Here are five venues that sound promising:

JSA_Arthop_Summer[2]

Jeffrey Scott Agency

I love typography. It can be one of those little-noticed parts of our lives that actually have a big impact on the way we relate to the world. Can a typeface help suggest the feel or sensation of a season? That’s what we’ll find out in “The Types and Textures of Summer” at the Jeffrey Scott Agency, 1544 Fulton St.

Continue reading “5 picks for Fresno’s June ArtHop”

Restyling memories

A gorgeous new retrospective of work by Nancy Youdelman at the Fresno Art Museum captures the spectacle and solemnity of one of the Fresno area’s top artists

Near the end of Edith Wharton’s bleakly beautiful 1905 novel “The House of Mirth,” the main character — a financially struggling socialite named Lily Bart — rummages through a trunk of her old clothes. Inside are expensive dresses she wore to various elegant events when she occupied a higher rung on the social ladder. Now they are musty and forlorn.

Speaking_in_Colorsresizedsmall
Nancy Youdelman’s ‘Speaking in Colors, 2015.’ Photo / Michael Karibian

As Lily looks at the extravagant gowns, Wharton writes, the scenes in which she wore them rise vividly before her. Each one transports her, if only for a moment, somewhere other than the drudgery of the present. These aren’t just clothes; each one is like a sort of personal archaeological artifact. Wharton writes: “An association lurked in every fold: each fall of lace and gleam of embroidery was like a letter in the record of her past.”

Nancy Youdelman, one of the Fresno area’s most important and best known artists, loves that line in “The House of Mirth.” It’s one of her favorites in all literature. The quotation helps explain the way she can take a discarded dress or shoe and with a practiced eye and flash of creativity turn it into a compelling sculptural object.

One of the highlights of her long-awaited and richly deserved new retrospective at the Fresno Art Museum, titled “Fashioning a Feminist Vision,” is seeing how Youdelman’s techniques have evolved over almost 50 years. She encrusts the garments she uses — all of them second-hand, many purchased on eBay or local thrift shops — with a variety of found objects, resulting in meaningful mixed-media creations. Buttons, dried flowers, costume jewelry, broken pieces of glass and anonymous vintage photos figure prominently in her later works. She’s perfected the technique of using encaustic, a natural resin reheated on a pancake griddle, to transform flimsy fabric into works of rigidity and permanence. The pieces feel as if they could hang on museum walls for hundreds of years.

Continue reading “Restyling memories”