In Thursday’s Life section I highlight the work of Neil Chowdhury, who joined the Fresno State art department this academic year to teach photography. His new show at Corridor 2122, “Burdens and Desires,” is a vibrant and thoughtful exercise in which Chowdhury unpacks his relationship to India, land of his father’s birth. Here’s an extended interview.
You’re new this academic year at Fresno State. Introduce yourself to the Fresno arts community.
I’m new to Fresno, but not to teaching and making art, or to being new. My parents moved with me frequently when I was a child. I was born in England, but immigrated to Canada and then the US while still an infant. Since then I’ve lived all over the country. I think that having to adapt constantly to new environments and cultures really helped me to become more observant of my surroundings, and inspired my use of photography as a tool to understand the new worlds in which I found myself. I moved here this August with my wife Sacha to teach photography at Fresno State University. We are both thrilled to live in a place where we can enjoy sunshine all year round. Our timing was fortunate, as we just managed to escape the worst winter on record in Syracuse, our previous home. I’m excited to discover that in addition to warm weather, Fresno also offers a vibrant cultural and art scene that’s much more lively than I expected for a city of this size. We’ve both felt very welcomed by the creative community here so far!
The collective is celebrating its big milestone at next week’s ArtHop with a 10th anniversary show featuring works from both past and current members. It’s been an impressive run: Month after month, with group and solo shows that range from cerebral to wacky to caustic to beautiful to just plain bizarre, I often get an artistic charge.
Other times — rarely — I feel as if I’ve walked into Dudsville.
But that’s part of the surprise. What appeals to me is the energy of the place — the sense of ideas percolating, of boundaries being pushed, of lifting the veil on the process of making art.
The Fresno Bee will open its doors 5-8 p.m. tonight as a stop on the ArtHop circuit. On display will be “100 Strangers,” a photography exhibition featuring work by students in Fresno State’s mass communication and journalism department.
We’ll have food, drink, music and the chance to meet some of the artists. I plan to be there from 5-6 p.m., so drop by and say hi. The Bee is at 1626 E Street. We plan to host additional ArtHop shows on a periodic basis, so keep us in mind as a stop.
SPECTRUM ART GALLERY: Renowned Yosemite photographer Charles Cramer, whose work is included in the 2005 book “Landscape: The World’s Top Photographers,” is the annual guest artist at Spectrum Art Gallery and will offer an exhibition of his original photographs.
Cramer, recognized as a master printmaker in both darkroom-based dye transfer printing and now in digital processes, was selected in 1987 and 2009 to be artist-in-residence at Yosemite.
He will be honored at an artist’s reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday.
– The annual William Raines “Splash” invitational at Corridor 2122 has become a tradition. This year’s theme is “Salt of the Earth.” For the collaborative and conceptual exhibit, Raines asked seven artists to participate in ways that go beyond the traditional meaning of the phrase (a good or worthy person). Details: 2122 Mono St., corridor2122.comcq.
– At Fig Tree Gallery, a summer show features work from the gallery’s 22 members, including new member Marilyn McGrady, who will show four large-format oil paintings in a series titled “The Sacred Fool.” Details: 644 Van Ness Ave. figtreegallery.us, (559) 485-0460.
In the midst of one of the busiest performing arts weeks of the year, don’t forget about ArtHop. I offer my picks in today’s Life section. Top of the list is a chance to see work by the immensely talented Nick Potter of Fresno State. He rarely shows in this area. His “Dystopian Romance” opens at Corridor 2122. Check out the Fresno Arts Council’s ArtHop lineup here.
And, of course, there’s a whole lot of Rogue to keep you busy.
As I write in my ArtHop picks in Thursday’s Life section, a new show by Michael Garcia is a big deal. His exhibition “Enso: Archetypes of Wholeness,” at 1821 Gallery & Studios, delves into one of Garcia’s favorite shapes, the circle, exploring the philosophical and psychological connections. I write:
Garcia, who lived in Japan for 10 years, was deeply influenced by his time there, and this new show is no exception. But, as the gallery notes, the artist’s work “also mirrors the strength and character of the Valley, echoing the worn and rust-soaked boards of Garcia’s grandmother’s home in Madera, a place that now only exists in memory.”
You might have to dig a little harder for cultural events this pre-Christmas weekend — but you can still find some great possibilities.
1. ENJOY A ‘MIRACLE’
The Good Company Players production of “Dad’s Christmas Miracle” at the 2nd Space Theatre has just four performances left: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. This nostalgic comedy is about a boy who has to convince his family and teacher he’s worthy of a visit from Santa. Another theater option for the weekend is the first-rate “Beehive,” which continues at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater. [Details]
1. SAY GOODBYE TO ‘ROCKY’
If you haven’t yet seen the Artists’ Repertory Theatre production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” what are you thinking? It’s a great evening. Here’s my review. There are two more performances: 8 p.m. today and Saturday. [Details]
Noted local authors Pat Hunter and Janice Stevens, who have collaborated on such art books as “Fresno’s Architectural Past” (two volumes) and “William Saroyan: Places in Time,” have turned to the coast for their newest offering: “An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 North.” The book will make its debut today with a 5-8 p.m. reception at Fresno City Hall.
If it’s August, it must be time for William Raines’ annual invitational “Splash” show at Corridor 2122. The theme this year is “Home.” Raines selected works from 13 artists across the country for the show, which kicks off Thursday night with an ArtHop reception. Raines writes about the show:
Home is represented by both its exterior and interior through a cross section of social layers within the ideal of neighborhood. How do we express community, urban blight, belonging, security and suburban flight while believing in the American Dream of home ownership? A home is typically a place where people and ideas gather and find shelter, a place where sociability is rehearsed and reproduced. How, then, do we house the social?
I highlight “Splash” in my roundup of ArtHop picks in Thursday’s Life section. Another show that gets some ink is Cynthia Cooper’s “The Tower Tribes — A Rat’s Eye View” at Spectrum Art Gallery. More on that show — and a shout-out for The Art House, a new ArtHop venue — after the jump, along with still more picks.
Bob Sieloff peers up a 16-foot metal sculpture by Karen Johnston, part of the March ArtHop exhibition at K-Jewel Art Gallery. Also featured: photographs by Tamela Ryatt; Black and drawings by Anne Scheid. Musical guests for the night are Mike Dana, Rich Severson, Gary Newmark and Roy Carlson.
There are lots more ArtHop options for the night. I wrote a piece in last Friday’s 7 section detailing four of them, which I’ll post on the jump.
Where will you be going for ArtHop? Artists and galleries, feel free to pitch your shows in the comments section.
There’s a lot going on at ArtHop tonight, including an impressive and thought-provoking exhibition at Corridor 2122 titled “Air Travel.” The show includes three local artists and five out-of-town artists with national and international reputations. I write about the show in a centerpiece story in Thursday’s Life section.
One of the artists I interviewed for my story was Hasan Elahi, an interdisciplinary artist and University of Maryland art professor who is debuting a new video piece titled “Brasilia” at the Fresno exhibition. He has a fascinating back story that really got him noticed as an artist. From my story:
Elahi made a splash with his work “Tracking Transience,” which resulted from a 2002 brush with U.S. immigration agents when he was returning from an art exhibition in Senegal. He was detained as a terrorist after an anonymous tip, which he figures came from owners of his Tampa, Fla., storage unit. (He had paid his final month’s rent in person on Sept. 12, 2001.) After passing nine polygraph tests and a battery of interviews, he was released, but with no formal charges, he couldn’t even get a letter clearing his name.
Rather than remain private about the incident, Elahi decided to incorporate it into his art – and to turn the tables on the FBI. The result was the ongoing “Tracking Transience” project (available online at trackingtransience.net), in which he publicly logs his every move in the form of location- and time-stamped photos, bank records and flight logs. Among his documentary acts: taking photos of the airplane meals he’s consumed over the years.
“Tracking Transience” has garnered national interest over the years, including an appearance by Elahi on “The Colbert Report.” (Here’s a link to the interview; I wasn’t able to embed it in this post.) Sure, he’s been covered by The New York Times, Forbes, Wired, CNN, ABC, CBS, NPR, Al Jazeera and Fox, but as a professor, “The Colbert Report” was golden. “It definitely got me a lot of credibility with the students,” he said.
If if it’s the first Thursday in Fresno, that means there’s a lot on the agenda. Here are three options:
I have a roundup of picks in Thursday’s Life section that includes a soul-food exhibition (and sweet potato pie tasting!) at the African American Historical & Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley with artist/chef Charla Franklin (photo above by The Bee’s Mark Crosse); a raucous “Cinco de Mayo” exhibition and celebration at Fresno City Hall; and an intriguing group show at Corridor 2122 titled “Recreation” that includes an aluminum-clad, self-designed and hand-built RV by Karen Johnston on display outside the gallery (below).
City Arts Gallery, a photography and art studio, is located at 1475 N. Van Ness Ave., just north of Floradora Avenue. The opening reception coincides with August ArtHop, the monthly open house of studios and galleries in the downtown and Tower District areas. Featured artists are Andrew Watrous, Brandon Jammal Renel Beckhum, Dixie Boswell, Joe Osejo, Juliana Harris and Marcos Dorado.
Another big show: William Raines’ annual summer invational art show at Corridor 2122 is sure to be a hopping event. This year’s is called “Skin: A Summer Splash.”
ArtHop runs 5-8 p.m., though some venues stay open later. Check out the official ArtHop website for a list of participating venues.
Ramirez describes his artistic style as urban because it evolved from graffiti. “I took my art from the streets to inside of galleries now and someday museums,” he says.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Gorgon Isle Gallery at ArtHop, don’t miss it. Last month’s show included throbbing amplified music, eclectic works and a warehouse-style gallery vibe. (Wear your jacket.) Adding to the atmosphere: The gallery also serves as an entrance to Haunted Fresno, now closed for the season.
More picks on the jump. Where are you going for ArtHop? Tell us in the comments. Artists, this is a chance to pitch your shows.
Pictured: Ric Ramirez’s “We’re all meant to be free.”
I saw some interesting shows last night. Feel free to add your own observations about these and other venues in the comments section.
GALLERY 25 Robert Weibel is known for his “gunpowder art,” and his full show at Gallery 25 — he was scheduled to display with Karen LeCocq but she had to drop out — is, dare we say, explosive. He has a couple of works titled “Delta Smelt,” which I’m assuming is a reference to a political powder keg of a Valley water issue (sorry, I have to ease up on the munitions puns), which are stunning visually, with the mixture of gunpowder and metallic leaf making a shimmering impact on the paper. I love how Weibel organized his show, too — to the extent that representations of birds actually seem to “flock” up a corner wall, as if they’re ready to take flight. There will be a reception 1-4 p.m. Sunday at Gallery 25. The show continues through Nov. 29.
DeROUCHEY CREATIVE DESIGN STUDIO
A fun, different ArtHop stop — definitely with a youthful vibe. Most, if not all, of the artists appeared to be recent Fresno State graduates, and the crowd in this warehouse district — just down the street from the Chris Sorensen Studio — brought the average ArtHop age WAY down. I ran into Fresno State art prof Doug Hansen, who was proud as a papa of his former students. One of my favorites of the bunch: Uriel Tekunoff’s surrealist-style painting of a bearded man. This was a one-night-only show.
To kick off the national release of “Capitalism: A Love Story,” I’ve asked the studio to offer a number of screenings in the nation’s hardest hit cities — the ones with the highest unemployment rates and highest foreclosure rates — where those who’ve lost their jobs or who are in foreclosure (or have already been evicted) may attend my film free of charge. They’ve agreed, and so tonight (Thursday), the night before our opening day, ten cities will grant you free admission if you have fallen on hard times. The list of theaters and cities is below. You don’t need to bring any “proof” of your situation — just show up — it’s the honor system, no questions asked.
My review of “Capitalism” is in Friday’s 7 section, but it’s already moved on the national McClatchy wire. Here’s a sneak peek from the Kansas City Star.
In today’s Life section I put the spotlight on the 35th anniversary show celebrating women artists at Gallery 25, which brings together a number of original members of the co-op with nine emerging artists selected for their passion and technique. (At right, a painting by Meiru Huang called “Trouble the Chaos.”) Together with the recently opened show at Fresno State devoted to the students of Judy Chicago, this month is turning out to be a big deal for people interested in feminist art.
I received an annoyed call this morning from a member of Fig Tree Gallery, just down the street from Gallery 25, who was upset that I hadn’t given the same kind of coverage in the print edition to the Amy Kai show opening in that space. This tribute to Kasai, who passed away earlier this year, is a major show, the caller said, and I should be very sorry for having missed it.
I do wish that I’d been able to include the Kasai show in my roundup of ArtHop events, but the problem is that Fig Tree is so inconsistent with its publicity. When I was checking for September shows, I went to the Fig Tree site, saw that it hadn’t been updated from the August show, and gave up. Other galleries manage to get the word out and update their Web sites. Why can’t Fig Tree?
So, while you’re at Gallery 25, don’t forget to check out the Kasai show. She deserves the attention. In the meantime, check out a few other ArtHop highlights on the jump.
The moment you walked into Corridor 2122 last night at ArtHop you could feel it: there was a buzz in the air, an electricity, a crackle of excitement. The fifth annual edition of the summer show “Splash” was here, and it was clear that curator William Raines had once again whipped together a lively, provocative, sophisticated show that he subtitles “Altered Narratives.”
One thing that sets this annual event apart is its brevity. Rather than being on display for a month, as is traditional for most galleries, “Splash” is a brisk affair. In fact, that’s one of the connotations of the title — a splash lasts but for a moment. The show opened for ArtHop and is only on view Saturday and Sunday. (Hours are noon-4 p.m.)
Though some artists participating in past “Splash” shows have taken the title more literally, including various interesting depictions of actual water, this year Raines assured a more eclectic reaction by asking artists to focus on presenting narrative through collage.
There are a couple of interesting artist receptions taking place on Saturday:
SPECTRUM GALLERY: Berkeley-based photographer Rondal Partridge, pictured, who at 91 is still a working artist, sure knows the way to Fresno. He came here in late May for his exhibition at the Fresno Art Museum, and now he’s returning on Saturday for a reception at Spectrum Art Gallery titled “Quizzical Eye: Seeing Through the Lens of Rondal Partridge.” You can read my advance story in Friday’s 7 section.
CORRIDOR 2122: In his long career, John Yoyogi Fortes has made some WILD paintings — including one depicting an eviscerated Porky Pig that I highlight in my Sunday Spotlight column. The Vallejo-based artist will be at Corridor 2122 from 1-4 p.m. Saturday for an artist’s reception. I couldn’t slip an image of Porky Pig’s guts spilling all over the floor into the print edition of the paper, but after the jump you can see Fortes’ “Re-Cognition/Sacrifice Towards Preservation,” which incorporates the author’s fascination with pop-culture appropriations, violent images and allusions to his Filipino cultural heritage, in all its colorful glory.
Mike Oz beat me to the punch with his Thursday checklist, but I just wanted to add a couple of interesting options for tonight:
FREE CONCERT: David Skinner was kind of a music nerd when he graduated from McLane High School in the early 1980s. And no one from his family had gone to college. So it probably would have surprised people back then to think that 25 years later he’d be a professor at Cambridge, the holder of a doctorate from Oxford, one of the top early-music scholars in the world and the founder of a prominent musical group with a recording career. Oh, and that he’s even picked up an English accent and hangs out with the Duke of Norfolk. I have a story in Thursday’s Life section.
Skinner conducts the Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, which is on a West Coast tour. It’ll perform 7 p.m. tonight at the Shrine of St. Therese Catholic Church, 855 E. Floradora Ave., in the Tower District. And it’s free!
ARTHOP OPTIONS: Mike tipped you off to some good ArtHop possibilities. There are some interesting shows at some of the other usual suspects, including Gallery 25, Corridor 2122 and Fig Tree Gallery. I wrote about them in my Sunday Spotlight column (second item).
RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES: Sometimes art feels as contemporary as a news Web site. That’s the way I felt when I walked into Corridor 2122 last week to look at its current group members’ show and saw a charcoal drawing by Stephen Dent hanging on the wall.
Titled “Aircraft Study,” the work is sketched over a printed world map — the colorful, cheap kind that you’d find in a National Geographic or hanging in a school classroom. Dent has sketched out the blunt outline of an airplane.
The fuselage is mostly depicted with darker charcoal strokes. He’s left part of the original map uncovered in a use of negative space that helps define the shape of the airplane and what could be a runway. Here’s the weird thing: the one unadulterated part of the original map just happens to be the stretch of ocean between South America and Europe into which Air France Flight 447 plunged last week. Up until that air crash, I’d only heard vaguely about the perilous “Horse Latitudes,” but with the news story being so fresh in my mind, I immediately made the leap. To me, the thick scrawl of the charcoal seemed ominous, and I could imagine the plane going down.