Tucked away amidst a tranquil, tree-shaded park in North Berkeley is the Berkeley Art Center, currently hosting an exhibition of mostly Bay Area artists who each have a refreshing take on traditional media. Eighteen artists were chosen by distinguished curators Rene de Guzman and Kate Eilersten, who have a wealth of experience in visual arts programming at cultural hubs like the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Museum of Folk and Craft Art. Eilersten and de Guzman chose artists whose technical expertise and conceptual ideas come together as equal factions in a quotient yielding sublimity. Ultimately, the theme of JURIED@BAC: Works on Paper is transcendence–an evasion of the perceived constraints of a two dimensional media.
Leigh Barbier contributed paintings from her series, Mushroomville, an exploration of her fantasy world filled with women and their adolescent daughters on a mission to understand the insidious aspects of reality. The mothers take on a didactic role, using nature, particularly mushrooms, to explain the difference between the harmful and the nutritious. The scenes are absent of housework and other domestic chores, allowing the female characters to fully delve into their surroundings. Barbier’s ground planes are rocky and angular, treacherously winding underfoot, sometimes even extending out into the space of the viewer. Pushing out of the picture plane is a tactic that is reminiscent of the Byzantine painter, Giotto. However, Barbier’s figures are more volumetric and show more emotion than her Medieval predecessor.
Collaging, piercing, and weaving were some of the other techniques artists used to go beyond the flatness inherent to paper. Iris Charabi-Berggren‘s piece, Bird Watching-Gyrfalcom literally weaves itself off the wall. Graphite tones describe the bird’s markings, texture, and brain-like headpiece, which flow into an undulating warp and weave. Julie Garner uses a similar technique in her work, Sugar Factory as she weaves multiple images of the same subject into one single image. Buoyant pneumatocysts and algae permeate the surface of Emily Clawson‘s pinhole drawings that she creates by puncturing the paper with the sharp point of a needle or pin. Masako Miki demonstrates how shaded planes of patterned paper can indicate linear perspective and bring order to her precariously stacked items.
In addition to the aforementioned artists, works by Henrique Bagulho, Mariet Braakman, Morgan Ford, John Hundt, Lisa Martin, Liz Maxwell, Anthony Lazorko, Camilla Newhagen, Henry Navarro, Sarah Newton, Jonathan Solo, Hyewon Yoon, and Alex Zecca are also exhibited. The show will be on display through September 20th, 2009.