Every year the Berkeley Art Center presents a juried exhibition. This year’s jurors were Rene de Guzman, curator at the Oakland Museum of California and formerly curator at the Yerba Buena Center, and Kate Eilertsen, who was director of the Art and Crafts Museum as well a temporary head of the Berkeley Art Center and is now the director of the Sonoma Valley Art Museum. Their judicious selection spared us the fare to which we have been subjected at the ubiquitous art fairs and group shows, which are based on the fashions and vulgarities of the art market. In fact, many of the pieces in this show retain the mark of authenticity. It was also a good idea to choose more than a single piece by most of the artists.
White is the outstanding color in this show: Emily Clawson presents three pinhole drawings in which, on white sheets of paper, she manages to depict life in the depth of the ocean as experienced in her scuba diving. Henry Navarro, an artist who was trained in Cuba, shows white paper collages in which cut pieces of white paper were pasted together to form white portrait heads. Iris Charabi-Berggren has shredded large sheets of white paper which serve as woven networks for realistically drawn birds. Mariet Braakman exhibits an evocative large drawing, called Land of Memories #13 (2006) in which a large rock has fallen between two vertical forms, consisting of a multitude of small graphite lines. The rock on its downward journey is stuck in this memorable symbol of frustration.
The first images encountered by the visitor to the show are two colorful narrative drawings by Leigh Barbier, depicting an imaginary world of gnomes and sprites wandering in a fantasy world of mountain and forests. Next to these, and in great contrast, are two consummate pencil drawings by the well-known artist, Jonathan Solo. She Loves Me (2009) is an androgynous bust of a mustachioed male head and sensitively drawn woman’s breasts. This puzzling image is placed in the lower right-hand corner of the sheet, balancing the composition with void space. In three amazing dawings by Alex Zecca he manages to create the perception of spacial illusion on a two-dimensional surface. These meticulous paintings with their perfect finish arrest the eye resulting in vibrating sensations.
Deer Contemplating Plan B (2009) by Masako Miki is a delight to view. Here is a deer standing on a very shaky scaffolding, which is about to collapse. And Miki must have had fun when decorating this non-structure with wallpaper segments showing the French fleur-de-lis, the British lion and the Irish shamrock. None of these national ikons help the poor deer. Julie Garver took photographs from many angles of the old C&H sugar factory in Crocket and the sliced them into a weft and warp woven picture. In her artist’s statement she writes that she wanted “to show how beautiful a working industrial building can be.” Yet it resembles photographs of the ruins of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City after it was bombed in 1995. Certainly, a good work of art is open to various interpretations and is completed only by the viewer’s response.
Juried @ BAC 2009
Annual juried exhibition featuring works on paper, through Sept. 20.
Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St.