May Art Report

If you want to see cutting edge in Chico, the 1078 Gallery is the place to go. The current show there is John Baca’s Need Need Not Repeat, a series of small installations. On the evening of May 1, he opened his artist talk by quoting Pablo Picasso: “Explain the art and you’ll understand the explanation, but not the art.” Baca may not have explained his art, but he did go on to elucidate it. The show will run until May 24, and the hours for the gallery are Thursday through Saturday 12:30–5:30pm.

His artist’s statement cryptically remarks: “John Baca grew up in a place that barely ever existed and doesn’t at all anymore…” Several members of the audience objected to this saying it does still exist and that they still live there. It might be said, though, Baca is playing with what is real and what is memory. He seems to be reflecting on the hardscrabble circumstances of his youth and the direction his life has taken now that he’s facing his 40th birthday.

“I Am a Ghost, You Are a Ghost, We Are All Ghosts” is an installation that covers most of the south wall of the gallery, a series of four battered hoods of old cars in various stages of deterioration and oxidation. Interspersed between these objects are black and white photos with, yes, ghostly images that suggest movement. Each of the hoods have squares of bright of color painted on them, from left to right: yellow, metallic gold, bright red, and dark turquoise. This, more than the other works, seems to suggest that all things eventually decay.

The Museum of Northern California Art (MONCA) is having another pop-up exhibition at 215 Main Street, which will be on display until May 24. The hours are Tuesday through Friday 10–6pm, and Saturday 10–5pm. A closing reception will be held May 23, 6–8 pm, with music by The Survivors. The works, which will be displayed at MONCA, will be taken solely from Reed Applegate’s vast collection of Northern California art, and will eventually be housed in the old Veteran’s Memorial Hall on the Esplanade. This current pop-up show honors veterans and their personal art.

The work in this show includes that of veterans from WWII, Vietnam, and the Gulf and Afghanistan wars. “Combat Veteran,” an oil by Walton Walker, is the searing image of a man obviously scarred by combat experiences, as much psychologically as physically. The face is a purplish brown mask of a mummy with the suggestion of a skull beneath. The title of David I. Tamori’s etched metal work is a Chinese curse, “May You Live in Interesting Times,” and, I assume, refers to his father’s experiences in WWII. Shoji I. Tamori was involved in heavy combat in France, eventually fighting under General Patton in the Battle of the Bulge. At home, his parents were in a Japanese internment camp.

If you want something a little lighter, there’s a charming display of longtime Chico educator Bernie Vigallon’s birdhouses at the Upper Crust. This started as a hobby for him, but eventually turned into a way to fund scholarships for the CUSD. The birdhouses range in price from about $35 to over $100. There’s a large one that resembles a church, one that has a CA license plate cut out in the shape of heart on the front and one with a Laurel Burch kitty in purple, white, pink, green and scarlet. This display will be on the walls until the first of June.

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