“Imagination Print,” now at the Jewish Community Center, gives an overview of the diverse work by members of the Santa Barbara Printmakers co-op.
“Imagination in Print”
When: through June 18, “Mitzpe Ramon: Life in our Sister City” runs through August 31
Where: Bronfman Family Jewish Community Center, 524 Chapala St.
Gallery hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday
Information: 957-1115, www.JewishSantaBarbara.org
In recent years, the Jewish Community Center’s regular art exhibition agenda has often relied on the kindness and the organizational fluidity of special interest art organizations/co-ops in town. Thus, we periodically get large samplings of abstract art from the Abstract Art Collective, for instance. Currently, the venue hosts another survey in the rarely exhibited but ancient art of printmaking, via the show “Imagination in Print,” showcasing members of the collaborative group known as Santa Barbara Printmakers.
All in all, it seems a win-win scenario, a happy melding of space and collective artistic cause. A diversity of art is displayed in the Center’s resourceful definition of a “gallery space,” which draws the viewer around the hallways of the Center, circling in on the walls of the large meeting room in the space’s center. The art appreciation process becomes a circumambulating experience through the JCC, affording an ambient impression of the place as we take in the art at hand.
Printmaking is the thing, the medium and the message in this show, and the mothership medium. But, of course, the umbrella dimension of printmaking covers a multitude of variations of technique and method, not to mention myriad approaches to form and content.
From the start of the exhibition, entering the hallway to the right of the JCC’s front office, it’s all about better living through artistic diversity. Sara Woodburn’s “Desert Oasis” is a woodcut/collage piece comprised of six separate panels to form its composite desert impression, while Christine Loizeaux’s “Segmented Reef,” a monotype, creates is visual energy and personality through layering, with scraped and spattered touches in the mix.
Oil monotype is the sub-medium of choice, and in action, with Mary Freericks’ Swimming,” in which simple gestures, squiggles and sponged areas evoke a child-like dream of undersea lift in a blue space. Liquid life returns in a very different perspective with Nadya Brown’s “Aquarium” (second place winner in this competitive show), a clever view of a museum from an inside-the-aquarium eye view.
Award winners in the show, positioned all in a row, occupy a specific wall of the central meeting room. First place goes to Jana Julian, whose monotype “Impulse” is an alluring and admirably understated abstraction, with black shapes swimming in a gray-ish vortex. Third place goes to Nina Ward’s “Cactus Horses” is a viscosity monotype in service of mythical and mutant nature worship, with its anchoring equestrian subject grace with an overlay of thorns hovering in the foreground.
Photography also slips into the range of mediums on view here, within the printmaking realm, as represented by Ines Monguino’s “Coming Through,” Loren Nibbe’s “Growth Spurt” and Ms. Freericks’ “Pagoda.”
References to language, in imagery and suggestions of coding, recurs in this selection of printworks. Kelsey Overstreet’s serigraph “Language” presents its ragged overturned “U” form, while Meagan Stirling shows a few of her signature pieces in which hieroglyphic fragments turn expressive on their own primarily visual terms. The literal message of the title in Bay Hallowell’s “Truth be Told 2” (woodprint with marker) is rendered abstract by superimposing and slightly tilting letters. The message becomes altered and fuzzy, implying the ambiguities built into any supposedly fixed notion of “truth.”
Emotions and imagery of purer, realistic sorts show up, as well, as with Eva Svitek’s “Sorrow,” a small, swarthy mezzotint portrait of a downcast woman, a poetic embodiment of the emotional state of its title. A localized brand of emotional fragility, relating to our too-recent fire-phobia in the area (and California, generally) comes around with Nancy Bingham’s “Tinderbox,” with its vivid orange flames silhouetting and endangering vulnerable forest land.
In brighter emotive news, for a sheer joyful and poised eyeful of a piece, proceed to Jerilynne Nebbe’s “Practically PEARfect IV.” Despite its shameless punning title, the cleanly-realized and appealing still life seemingly personable trio of pears, in woodcut and Chine colle.
Also presently running at the JCC, in another section of the building’s “hallway gallery” space, is a selection of photographs celebrating sisterly city love, in the show “Mitzpe Ramon: Life in our Sister City.” The Santa Barbaran ode to the Israeli city includes Daniel Bear’s striking “Slackline,” a wide-angle image of a shirtless man balancing on a rope (slackline) in a geodesic dome.
By contrast–and in sync with part of the JCC’s general mission–Tiki Ozer extends a subtle portrayal of spirituality in human form, and from different religious denominations, in the images “The Rabbi” and “The Monk.” In that image, a robed monk totes a single lens reflex camera, as if in a sly doppelganger reference to the medium of the show the image is a part of.