Rapidly asserting itself as the force to be reckoned with, Pomona Arts Colony’s dba256 Gallery has erected another monument to innovative California artists. In her second exhibit, Liquid Light, dba director Andi Campognone features works that embody the polished, unrestricted cosmos of what could be our inner or outer worlds—or both. Unconcerned with specific structure, these pieces, which are decedents of the 1960’s “Light and Space” and “Finish Fetish” movements, are more concerned with the act of purely looking, rather than art that supplies commentary or dramatic narrative. In fact, these pieces, most of which employ high gloss layered acrylic, look almost machine produced, a staple of the Finish Fetish idea of removing all evidence that an artist has been there—no brush or graphite strokes, no wild, emotional embellishments of any kind. This technique distinctively allows the viewer to enter into the work unguided by the artist, and thus, unhindered by preconception. In essence, it’s visual freedom to absorb imagery and create meaning that is specific to each person. With this in mind, one might choose to forego reading the titles of the pieces until after experiencing them. We will, however, note most of the titles in this review—just take it with a dollop of polymer.
One of the most dramatic and enveloping displays in the show is Michel Tabori’s “Abstract Forest,” a monolithic expanse of high resin greens, ambers and yellows poured across almost two-dozen panels of varying widths. The size of your living room wall, if you have very tall ceilings and a living room, it’s a rendering of the mere elements of nature, defining none specifically, and therefore evoking not necessarily a forest per se, but perhaps the aura of a forest as viewed through an emerald prism of warmth and coolness in motion.
Similarly, Sharon Weiner’s gold and violet couplet panels of fuzzy orbs floating in space or plasma (depending upon whether they strike you as Venusian river stones or protein molecules) might also be the stuff of dream worlds. More focused in shape, the soft collisions shimmer along the border of biology and the metaphysical.
Suzan Woodruff’s tumultuous panels, however, drive this ethereal emergence into the earthly prehistoric with her poured acrylic canvases of what might be the turbulent browns and reds of volcanic primordiality—eventually cooling and transforming in the second panel into an oceanic blue and white of embryonic life.
Andy Moses capitalizes on this elemental realm as well: his “Desert Light” streaked copper and blues creation flecked with the iridescent metals of sand is both tied to the earth and yet apart from it. Up close, one will recall holding these very same grains in your hands during a beach or desert excursion; from afar, these details submerge into what could be recognized as the cross-section of Mojave dune or Saturnian clouds on a serene and thoughtful night.
Diverging from the heavy paint and liquidity that typifies most pieces in the show, Dawn Arrowsmith’s delicate, solitary pastel circles are what one might see looking up into a barren sky through a softly vibrating portal, and is certainly the most spiritual of the works on display.
Alexander Couwenberg (who was also in the inaugural Inland Emperors exhibit), once again brings his smartly glossy acrylic palate of accessible abstraction to the table in a Kubrick-like fashion with “Star Duster.”
Departing from the embracing colors of light, Roland Reiss’ clear acrylic casings utilize actual light filtered through lucid markings on a front acrylic panel to create shadows of images on the background wall, effectively bringing his “Falling Water” and “Traveling Light” to three-dimensional life.
Equally inconspicuous, Patrick Wilson’s docile gray and muted orange geometries of “Pearls are a Nuisance” require a patient close-up in order to appreciate the delicacy and detail.
Finally, Lita Albuquerque’s “Auric” might well be a fitting final touch on the show (if you view the works in the order that I did). Like a mysterious portal of time and place undefined, her simple, white-gold burnished canvas is embellished with only a large black circle in the center—a passageway, perhaps, to other inner and outer worlds, promising neither safety nor immediate comprehension—just the fluidity of life.
Liquid Light at dba256, 256 S. Main St., Pomona, (909) 623-7600; www.dba256.com; Open Tues.-Thurs., 10am-10pm; Fri.-Sat., 10am –midnight. Closed Sun. & Mon.
In addition to their gallery exhibitions, dba256 reserves street-side display space for various installations. Currently featured is Noche by Riverside video artist and Claremont Graduate school alum Marsia Alexander-Clarke. Using time-lapse footage of the moon on a cloudy night, more than a dozen flat screens roll fragmented images in quick progression, creating an ominous visual of that most emotional fixture in our own lunar heavens. Alexander-Clarke has spent the last decade and a half perfecting what she calls “visual and aural carpets in grid format,” using pieces of imagery to create an overall composition of movement and feeling. The installation is only visible after dark, however, so make sure you stroll by on your evening walk through the Colony and take in this nature-based minimalist viewpoint.