Up Up and Away!
By Stacy Davies
Usually, when a gallery has an open call, they still have to cherry pick through all of the submissions and reject a few pits. Under the inspiration of Juan Thorp, however, the SCA Project Gallery opted to take the title of their new show, “Just Wing It,” quite literally, accepting pieces from any artist willing to get off their duff and haul it over. Fortunately for them, the Pomona Arts Colony and its extended family of non-local-yet-beloved-artists are firmly on their game and delivered a gaggle of bird and flight-inspired works that excel both in artistry and inspiration—with a few laughs tossed in on the side.
Anne Seltzer kicks off the feathered friend imagery with her lovely, stark acrylic of a Blackbird Thief snatching fruit from the nesty armory of another fowl, and Karen Karlsson’s serene dual monoprints of blackbirds, flitting over branchy trees in Morning Flight and weedy fields at dusk in Forgotten Plain, might just lay out the escape route. Teodor Dumitrescu’s mixed media companion pieces of hummingbirds imposed over an old-time passenger car and engine in Birds and Trains, are rustic and homey, reminding that yesteryear has passed but nature remains young and eternal. Jennifer Wilkins’ two bird-admiring pieces Blackbirds and Bird Watcher are also apropos to the Victorian era, both highly detailed images in frames so ornate we’d think they’d be reserved for much beloved family members—and perhaps they are. Even birds don’t flit forever, of course, as we’re reminded in Denise Kraemer’s Death Becomes Her, a sensitive drypoint of a tweeter on her back in final repose, her body already beginning to evaporate into the cosmos.
If painter Leslie Brown were to vacation in England, she’d most definitely be referred to as a “bird,” and thus her vampy, winged self-portrait, Mystic Gate, honors the theme’s requirement as well as being a hoot. Father Bill Moore prefers divine images as well, and his Fallen Angel acrylic and mixed media companion canvases chained together, each with a single black wing, reveals the perils of flying too high and mighty.
Winging it doesn’t always involve birds, of course, and in the exceptionally creative non-literal category, Jeff Ribaudo’s Fly Like an Evel, a laser print on vellum of the daredevil Evel Knievel who soared for, like, a second, over and into the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in a rocket back in 1974 fits the bill. The stuntman might have broken fewer than 433 bones, of course, had he used something like the contraption in Toshiki Nakamura’s Sky Hawk, a fantasy-inspired digital illustration of a set of manmade wings softly gliding over a lush and friendly canyon. Early blueprints of the machine might even be found in Froukje Schaafsma-Smith’s monoprint collage, House Call, a bold pair of panels linked by a single black bar.
Traveling further into symbolism and abstraction are R.T. Pece’s funky acrylic Peachy Wingy, which brings to mind some character from an early Atari video game, and Juan Thorp’s Eye in the Sky, an equally animated oddity of tubes and twists that’s sprouted some wings for propulsion and a Cyclops eye for guidance. Anna Marie Francesco gets darkly gaudy with her black feathered mirror, Sharon Suhovy tricks us into digging her pinky, punk rockin‘-esque Bamboo and Cricket (because this is, in fact, bird food) and Anita Sinclair goes far off into another world entirely in her exceptional acrylic, ink and graphite Urkyl, which could be the name of the alien planet we see or the sluggy creature hovering above a clawing root in battle over some Venusian morsel. Finally, Amy Caterina and Shannon Faseler pull our leg—and our molar—with their witty photo of a tooth and pencil on paper drawing of a bird in I Like Cake: An Adult Swallows, a part of their “Tooth Fairy” series.
There’s much more, of course, including work from a bevy of talented notables such as George Comer, Cindy Rinne, Cosme Cordova, Franz Keller, Karen Pollitt, Jenelle Lowery Michael Severin, Cindy Moore, Anna Friesen, Sioux Bally-Maloof and promising newcomer to the art scene, Tammy Greenwood—so unshackle your terra firma feeta and jet on over.
“Just Wing It” at SCA Project Gallery, 281 S. Thomas St., Unit 104, Pomona, (909) 620-5481; www.scaprojectgallery.org. Open Thurs-Sat, noon-4PM. Closing reception May 28, 6-9PM. Free.