Making the Scene

By Stacy Davies

Posted April 28, 2011 in Arts & Culture

While we only officially say “thank you” (or perhaps, “we’re sorry”) to Mother Earth once a year, keeping an eye on the green scene and how we’re progressing to right our wrongs and not repeat the same mistakes is a daily activity now that we’re seeing the obvious effects of trashing the planet. Of course, there is still the irrational set who don’t believe science, and the intellectually-challenged zealots who believe that their holy book gives them the right to dump on any “lower” form of life—but really, even if both of these nutters are correct, didn’t mommy teach you to take only one helping until everyone’s had some and to pick up after yourself? Simple toddler logic is evidently lost on a large segment of adult babies who throw tantrums whenever they’re asked (not forced, not yet) to do the nice thing.

Over at Andi Campognone Projects there’s been a month-long honoring of Gaia and all of her magical and wily ways using artful tact instead of conservation speeches, and while there are just some people who won’t respond to either, for those of us who like hugging trees, at least when we’re climbing them to fetch airplanes and kites that have gone astray, there are a host of intriguing and gorgeous pieces in this show to reflect upon.

Art educator and activist Sant Khalsa has been drawing our attention to environmental and societal issues for more than 30 years, and her polished glass and poplar wood totem series, Seedlings, featuring imprints of regrowth from fire-decimated forests, evokes both pangs and praise. In addition, her alter piece, The Sacred Breath, a photo of oversized lungs and trachea with charred branches spidering through them, reminds us that the air we breathe is not really invisible and not really harmless.

Andre Yi’s acrylics of tree trunks spouting emerald monoliths are an ingenious hybrid of sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke’s universal vehicle of life merged with one of our organic tenants that keep the planet habitable, and Rebecca Hamm’s acrylic mosaic of woodland colors, No. 2, also pays homage to the topiary that sustains us.

On the flipside, Sally Egan’s untitled photo of an IE family barbecuing corn cobs in a dump is a kitschy exaggeration of how we live, and yet, not that far off . . . and Samantha Field’s series of acrylic hilltop fires point out that the destruction of nature, whether by human or ecosystem, is an awesome, frightful sight. The unfortunate casualties of both forces can be seen in Fragile, Constance Mallinson’s photo of a lifeless bird lying beneath a bed of leaves that spell out the word “me.”

More tree tributes are found in Juan Thorp’s twisty, inventive series of mechanical bark timbers, James Patrick Finnegan’s flower-sprouting tree sculpture and Emily Smith’s cardboard layered strata and Astroturf depiction of our rural world. Also, don’t forget to stop by Gisela Colon’s “Chromatic Cool” exhibit in the adjoining room for an intense explosion of vibrant color and abstraction that reflects the multitude of hues found in nature’s expression. But above all else, remember that sustainability is all about where we live and how we take care of it, and just like in kindergarten, it doesn’t matter if you prefer playing sword fight or coloring with magic markers that smell like bubblegum—as long as you don’t hog your turn and you put everything back where you found it when you’re done.

“The Weight and the Magnitude” at Andi Campognone Projects, 300 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 629-4500; Thru May 8.


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