Gems & Germs

By Stacy Davies

Posted February 16, 2012 in Arts & Culture

There’s nothing humorous about STDs—or germs of any sort, really—unless they’re place in the proper, comical context. For example, I Googled STD/germ “slogans” and was impressed by what people came up with: “getting the clap won’t get you any applause,” “scabies really gets under your skin,” “herpes, the gift that keeps on giving,” and for safe sex, “don’t go knocking around or a baby might open the door,” and I could go on. Likewise, this past Christmas I bought each of my sons plush, stuffed viruses the Black Plague and Typhoid Fever, because they already have everything—except a deadly, archaic disease. Daphne Hill is also fixated on afflictions and contagions, and while they act as a source of anxiety for her, the remedy for the obsession is art, not a plastic bubble suit.


In Andi Campognone Projects’ back gallery, Hill’s “Venereal Narratives and Other Catchy Tales” takes us through an impressive selection of syphilis and gonorrhea-inspired scenes. Using pink, elaborately detailed, found wallpaper as her canvas, Hill paints silhouettes of antiquated courting couples—sword-laden men, women washing up in wading pools—and fills the surrounding landscapes with various amoebas, most of which look like decorations until we realize that one of the lovebirds is actually infected with the nasty bugs.


Weeping Willow Gonorrhea is one stunner in which a regal lady enjoys her day beneath a timber, beckoning to an unseen lover while, er,  beavers look on and sip from streams, all of them immersed in a playground of white flowering clusters and red wisps and dots that will ensure the less than virginal lass has a very unpleasant sensation when next she relieves herself. In Clinging Gonorrhea and Syphilis, we find who might easily be Romeo and Juliet on the balcony, pre-passionate embrace and double suicide, and really, they might have narrowly avoided an alternate and wholly unromantic ending. Hill’s series of pinup girls infected with syphilis is also a winner—just be sure to check the darling for seeping chancre sores, which you can always pretend is some new kinky sex game. It’s not a game to Hill, of course, but she’s obviously keenly aware of irony, and her exceptional compositions attest to it.


Among the other Pomona art spaces there’s also much to see this month, including some fine collaborations at the SCA Project Gallery. “Compulsory Collaborations” randomly teamed two IE artists, and some of the results are top-notch. Among these are Jill Carol and Juan Thorp’s photo and paint mixed media piece Invader, in which one of Thorp’s signature robots wraps its mechanical tentacles around Carol’s abandoned desert house. Bob Pece and Fr. Bill Moore also brought their A game in Scalloped Mover de Moore, a perfect morphing of one of Pece’s animated Atari-esque entities with Moore’s encaustic, blocky abstracts. Cindy Rinne and Franz Keller successfully meet head to head in The Snow Queen, a video piece that projects Keller’s electronic LSD world onto Rinne’s finely sewn silk tapestry, and Marci Swett and Karen Pollitt steal the show with Deux Aurorae, a magnificent sculpture of untempered masonite with balsa wood river stones, acrylics and UV paint merged into a funky, groovy splatter and splotch of movement and color.


Over at the Bunny Gunner Gallery it’s the annual “All You Can Eat” show featuring over 400 works by IE locals. Karen Karlsson’s series of encaustic abstracts are smart and appealing and Athena Hahn’s duo canvases of chickens that seem on the path toward a clucky clash are funky fun. Sheli Weldon’s series of ironic meat-tofu advertising collages are a politically incorrect good time, David Dexter’s white supremacist plates are even more so, and Sarah Riedal Puckett’s assembled birdhouses and cityscape backgrounds are a smashing success.


The dA Center for the Arts is also having an annual show—the “Simply Red” exhibition that’s now in its 25th year. Filled with every type of media under the sun, there’s something for everyone here, including Cher Ofstedahl’s Recycled Rose of Tralee, a mixed media slice of lovely featuring a portrait of a modest Irish maiden wearing a blouse inscribed with a letter and framed by torn music sheets. But my favorite piece of all is Cindy Moore’s family feline portrait Irene in Red, a lush oil in rouge of a rather annoyed, striped ladycat.


Last but not least, the blackdot art space run by Daniel Romero has brought some new blood to the west side with Jessica Byer’s solo show, “Displacement,” a series of well-wrought architectural paintings depicting buildings and streets from the artist’s memory. Soft and inviting, the shapes clash and flow in shades of white and gray creating an appealing visual and promising start to this new artist’s career.


The Pomona Art Colony is located in Downtown Pomona between First and Fourth streets. All shows run thru Feb. 25.


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