Febuary Art Report

The 2015 Snow Goose Festival and Wildlife Art Exhibit is the very last show at Avenue 9 Gallery. It opened on January 14 and will be in place until February 7 when there will be a closing party starting at 1pm and ending at 3pm. There are two shows at the gallery, one in honor of the Snow Goose Festival that the late Maria Phillips initiated eight years ago, and the other a showing of work by the members of the gallery’s Art Guild.
Dominating the Snow Goose part of the exhibit is a group of three metal sculptures, “Tall Triplets,” by Hank De Hoop, who eloquently describes his medium as “used metal parts.” These creatures, which resemble cranes, are made of beautifully rusted bits and pieces with pick axes for beaks and long, thin legs of rebar. They’re about eight feet tall, partly goofy, partly dignified, they look aloofly down on us mere mortals. I didn’t know you could make ceramic sculptures out of Bidwell Park clay, but this is Patti Lloyd’s medium. Her “Two Crows” are a lively pair, the male plain, but well-made, while the female sports a tiny, lacy crown with a clear, sparkling gem in its center.
In the members’ show, Dr. Henry Ganzler has a number of his beautiful photographic images of wildlife, particularly of birds, which capture the essence of their majesty and mystery. Wetlands Wildlife—The Sacramento Valley, his film on the same topic, runs on a continuous loop so I came in on the vultures—”…ugly on the ground, beautiful in flight….” Waif Mullins’ and Delores Mitchell’s oils celebrate the ambiance of certain hours of the day. “Late Afternoon, Sycamore Pool,” by Waif, presents a group of plane trees leaning beneath the weight of years, shimmering in golden light. “Quiet Morning,” Delores’ painting, gives a serene, though slightly chilly, view of craggy mountains across what appears to be wetlands. It is a lovely, small painting, restrained and almost monochromatic.
Avenue 9 is located at 180 E. 9th Avenue and their hours are noon through 4 Wednesday through Saturday.
I’ve always said if you want to see art in the worst way go to the annual Members Show at the Chico Art Center. To use a cliché, it’s a mixed bag—some of it is really good, some of it is really bad, but most of it is sort of mediocre. To guide you, if you want to go, I’ve picked out a few of my favorites: Sal Casa’s “Untitled” oil is a frothy, airy confection of dancing colors, two light blue sections above with a large blue section below. Sal is obsessed with words, so at the very bottom is an almost illegible phrase “PERCHE ti AMO” (Italian for “because I love you”). Katherine Sherman’s acrylic “The Critic” is fascinating because the image is rather enigmatic. A black man dressed in casual clothing and a flat crowned cap is seated on a curb with a stack of books beside him. He’s holding one in one hand while making a broad gesture with the other hand. There appears to a freeway overpass in the background, making the scene rather unusual.
“Softside Shore,” an oil by Brent Roden, is a small work with a charm that is almost indescribable. It seems, at first glance, to be a rather casual composition, one not given much thought. Its subtleties emerge slowly. Painted in a thin wash on a nubby canvas, the dark, murky colors reveal the irregularities in the cloth and blend in loose, shadowy configurations that suggest ancient Zen paintings from Japan. “Bunny,” a mixed media, wood sculpture by Norma Lyon, is pure fun and a delight for anyone who’s ever read the Peter Rabbit stories by Beatrix Potter. You can’t overlook the fact that it’s a rabbit even before you read the title. It’s made of bits and pieces of wood, a block for the body, scraps for the paws, tail and ears. The head is a box, however, which opens and closes. When open, it reveals the silkscreened face of a rabbit; when closed, the lid has cursive script quotes from Peter Rabbit.
The Chico Art Center is located at 450 Orange Street with hours of 10-4 daily. This show will be in place until February 6.
New Work/New Artist II at the Turner Print Museum is a show from Bay Area artist Kathy Aoki, the recipient in 2014 of the 10th Janet Turner National Print Competition Solo Exhibition Prize. The work in the show was created specifically for the Turner. A humorous feminist view of pop culture and attitudes toward women; it’s not deep or far-reaching, but it’s fresh and true right now. Aoki envisions a world in which there are forests of mascara brushes and grown women who dress and act like princesses in Disney animated films having been, as the artist says, “inculcated” as children to this approach to life.
“Coloring Book Page (Glamour Palais)” is a silkscreen with embossing glitter, an image of the Disneyesque theme park Aoki proposes for adult princesses. It looks a little like Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland except that its towers are topped with mascara wands, a lipstick and a leg and foot wearing a six inch heel. The base of the palace is a princess gown with wide panniers. The Mascara Forests is a series of five lithographs of mascara wands forming forests amid a rocky landscape. Notes say it’s rumored that Aoki once actually used mascara until “frequent clumping” discouraged her. Slightly darker in tone, the notes also draw attention to the  “ominous mascara slick…” that flows through the prints reminding us that early formulas for mascara “…caused blindness and even death…”
The eventual fate of the grownup theme park is revealed in a linocut, “Destruction of Glamour Palais,” which references Hokusai’s series of prints, “Great Wave Off Kangawa” (1829-1832). A large, frothy wave caused “by floodwaters from global warming” engulfs the structure in 2213 CE as beauty detritus floats in the turbulent sea around it. Four patriotic beauty posters, send ups of recruitment posters of World Wars I and II, are amusing, as well. In two of these a well-coifed, heavily made-up “Aunt Sam” points a carefully manicured finger at you and announces, “I Want You…To Weigh 110 lbs.” and “I Want You…To Get DD Cups.”
Other prints comment slyly on current dance crazes such as the stone lithograph “Gangnam Style (At the Moulin Rouge)” which shows a figure looking suspiciously like Psy teaching Jacques Renaudin (aka Valentin the Boneless), a popular dancer at the cabaret in the 1890s, how to do it Gangnam Style.  Another stone lithograph titled “Twerkin’” is a view of an elegant Regency ball where amused gentlemen observe ladies straight out of a Jane Austin novel attempt Miley Cyrus’ favorite move. Before you even enter the main gallery, however, you’ll be met with an interactive installation, twelve panels you can move around as you wish. One has a lipstick case with feet landing on the moon.
The Turner Print Museum is located on the Chico State campus in Meriam Library on the ground floor to the east and is open Monday through Saturday 11am to 4pm.