The “Floating World” never looked so beautiful and ethereal as it does in Paula Busch’s Japan: Most Recent Work currently at James Snidle Fine Art. Her “Siphonophora Series” (siphonophorae—marine creatures sometimes resembling jellyfish—appear to be a single entity, but are, in actuality, numerous organisms joined in a colony; the best known example is the deadly Portuguese Man of War) pairs geishas, sumo wrestlers, a merchant, and lovers with the strange, but lovely, sea creatures in these encaustic works. (Encaustic is a painting technique using hot beeswax to which colored pigment can be added and then shaped with brushes and special tools.)
Notable among them is the “Courtesan Chozao of the Chosiya,” a delicately beautiful, but haughty young woman who, elaborately coiffed and dressed, is accompanied by two youthful attendants. She seems mildly surprised at the unearthly sight of the flowing sea creatures that surround her. Geisha, attendants and siphonophora are enclosed in a cartouche-like shape with three circular mounds of wax above them. I was told that each of the circular forms took over an hour for the artist to create as she reapplied hot wax again and again manipulating and shaping it with a brush and tools.
The show includes the “Japan Series” as well, which are largely abstract works that include the occasional image, such as the head of a girl in one, and natural elements, slices of persimmons and mandarins and lace leaves, both red and yellow, trapped in the wax. The surface of these are pleated with the ridges running both vertically and horizontally across the surface of the paintings. This show will be in place until October 31.
When you enter the foyer of the Turner Print Museum and the Valene L. Smith Anthropology Museum there’s a glass case to your right. For only a few more days this display case will hold a sign that says, “If you think this is cool, wait until you go inside!” This refers to “Feng Shui Koi Purses” in the case which were designed by Chikoko member Michalyn Renwick. COOL?! I want the one with the turquoise scales and rose- colored fins! And, indeed, what you get to see next IS way cool!
Inside the museum there’s a display with color photos and brief bios of each of the Chikoko members: Nel Adams, Sara Rose Bonette, Muir Hughes, Michalyn Renwick and Christy Seahorse. Twelve posters announce the Chikoko shows to date from Experimental (2005) to Nectar (2013). On a large flat screen Metamorphosis, Elemental, 5th Sun Angry Birds and Star Wars, and Nectar run in an endless loop with gorgeous, regal models of both sexes showing off equally gorgeous clothing. There’s a smaller screen with a slide show, the pauses in between slides allowing you to examine the clothing as works of art more closely.
I certainly can’t mention everything in this show, which is packed with delightful costumes and accessories, but two dresses linger in my memory. One is from Tronic (2010), a show in which the pieces were “influenced by heroes and villains of Star Trek.” I think, but maybe I’m wrong, that it’s made of gold lame (la-MAY). Sleeveless, “Goldness” has a deep cowl neck and a bodice that drops straight into a car wash skirt. It’s supposed to be Sci Fi inspired, but it reminds me, too, of a long-ago age of Hollywood glamour. “Lady Luck” from the Metamorphosis show is a sassy little strapless dress and a hair accessory made of decks of cards. The bodice is shaped like a bra made of stiff, pointed rounds of cards showing their backs. The skirt, however, where the cards show their faces, flares and ripples like endless hands of poker in the grip of a professional gambler. It’s a little too edgy, perhaps, for street wear, but it’s still an enchanting work of art. This show will be at the Anthropology Museum until October 11.
The love of art leads you down interesting paths and so on Friday September 26 at Chico City Hall I had an incredible experience when MONCA (The Museum Of Northern California Art) opened another “pop-up.” The “pop-ups” not only give a taste of what the museum will be like when it finally moves into the old Veteran’s Hall on the Esplanade, they also highlight the Museum’s fundraising efforts. The reception that night featured The Breshears Trio, a group of young classical musicians who play string instruments. After playing a number of short pieces by Mozart, the young man in the group soloed with a rather difficult Bach partita. They exhibited excellent musicianship, especially hitting the notes on key and in the right places. This is particularly astonishing since the young “man” in the trio, Dustin Breshears, is seven years old and his sisters, Valerie and Starla, are five and six. They present themselves quite confidently and very professionally, as well.
I should mention the art, shouldn’t I? Reed Applegate, whose personal art collection will be highlighted at MONCA, would probably be upset if I didn’t. The art from Reed’s collection at the city hall is displayed on all three floors with ten works in the hall on the ground floor. The entire group covers a diverse range of media and covers almost five decades. It should be mentioned, Reed has exquisite taste so every work in the “pop- ups” is of exceptional quality. Local artists in the show include Sal Casa, Ann Pierce, Marion Epting, Mabrie Ormes (with a work done before she moved to Oregon) and the late Richard Hornaday and Ruth Ormerod. Reed collects art only from artists that live and work in Northern California, that is, from Sacramento to the Oregon border, however, this includes work by Wayne Thiebaud and Roy De Forest. This show will continue through November.
James Snidle Fine Arts is located at 254 E. 4th Street and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm. The Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology is on the Chico State campus on the ground floor of Meriam Library and is open from 11am to 4pm. Chico City Hall is located between E. 4th and 5th Streets and is open during business hours on week days.