Apprentices of the Masters
Valley View Elementary Students
I noticed two particularly unusual things about this art opening: RC Cola and cookies were served instead of the standard wine and cheese fare, and I stumbled over two of the artists because I didn't look down. Such is the scene when a group of elementary school kids exhibit their art work. An all-too-rare scene, I'd say. How refreshing it is to see creativity in its early form, before it is sifted through the stress of becoming a big person.
This exhibit is a veritable fun house, with vibrant, energetic paintings and papier-mâché figures dangling from the ceiling and clinging to walls. Boxers, gymnasts, and angels seem a favorite model for the little sculptors and painters, though many students took the self-portrait route. One common trait from piece to piece: a mixture of colors to rival the rainbow.
The kids weren't simply given paint-drenched brushes and told to give it a go. They were schooled in the elements and principles of art and taught the styles of various famous artists; Picasso's influence comes through in the innumerable double-faced portraits. Many of the works are surprisingly evocative and complex; perhaps more than the artists themselves can comprehend.
"I like for these children to have this kind of experience," says Marolyn Upshaw-Lynch, one of the art teachers. "Just like a performance for music students, or a game for a child in sports -- you go to the gallery to experience your artwork. It's a huge self-image builder." That these children were encouraged to explore themselves and their world through artwork is wonderful; that they were able to exhibit their work in a full-fledged gallery is... well, you could see the delight on their proud, little faces.
Voices and Visions
Regina Vater and David Medalla
through March 8
Swimming against the Tide, by Regina Vater
That's saying a lot, since Medalla's installations usually find their home on the streets of London. Most of his installations -- including his colossal bubble-making machines -- are either too large or too ephemeral to place in a gallery, so smaller renderings take their place here. These painted, enlarged, color-copied photos cannot convey the grandiosity of Medalla's full-scale work, but they are a hypnotic treat. The gallery's earth-tone walls propel the works' brilliant blues and greens into the room, radiating a kinetic energy. One small-scale Medalla bubble machine sits in the room, gurgling and spewing fluffy white bubbles as a video shows some of his more elaborate machines.
Vater's works are somewhat more composed. Swimming Against the Tide is a video installation, with a small white television resting on a white pillar. Surrounding these components are rocks of varying sizes, suspended by string tied through their natural holes. It looks like a tiny meteor shower descending on the TV. Seek the Unseen and Beauty Will Appear is a series of water-filled glasses that convey a hidden message you can decipher, if you take a close look.
For years, both these artists have been proponents of "awareness of the creative process," on their part as well as the viewer's.This show does a fine job in encouraging the viewer to do his or her part. -- Cari Marshall