Mechem taught art at McLane High School for 36 years. After playing football for Fresno State, Mechem says he felt “dazed and confused” about his future after coming to the end of his player eligibility.
He sold his car, took the few hundred dollars he had saved loading trucks at night for Pepsi and bought a round-trip ticket to Europe.
After visiting the great museums there, he returned to Fresno determined to be an artist and teacher. While he was at McLane, he taught a painting class at Fresno City College for 28 years, and after retirement he has for 10 years been teaching a drawing class at Reedley College.
Mechem calls himself a figurative painter who comments on the social, political, cultural and religious aspects of human nature. “Satire and humor are important components of my expression as I attempt to lampoon and ridicule the vices, follies and shortcomings of contemporary society,” he says.
More ArtHop picks are attached to the end of the story. For a complete list of venues, go to the Fresno Arts Council’s ArtHop update.
Los Angeles artist Oscar Magallanes will be in town for an exhibition of his work, which Arte Americas executive director Frank Delgado describes as “seriously powerful and large scale.” From Magallanes’ bio:
Magallanes was raised in the Azusa barrio. His artwork is influenced by the cultural and social elements of his upbringing. After a troubled youth at the age of fifteen, he was expelled from high school but was accepted into the Ryman Arts program which he credits with encouraging him to become a professional artist. Magallanes’ work which is primarily of wood panels is used as a vehicle to allow the viewer to gain insight of societal injustices and further understanding of diverse cultures and struggles on even the subtle level and in this way pay homage to the journey he has traveled.
Also at Arte: Jeannette Herrera, an acrylic/oil painter, has had work featured at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, the New Mexico Museum of Art and Chimmaya Gallery in Los Angeles. She writes:
After an attack in 2004 I recovered from a skull fracture and sending attacker to prison for 7 years. I started to paint again and have found it to be the only therapy that works for me.
Both shows continue through Aug. 17. Pictured above: a work by Oscar Magallanes.
In Thursday’s Life section I offer an ArtHop roundup, starting off with a new show at Gallery 25:
Artists Joan Sharma and Carol Tikijian are concerned about climate change. In a new show at Gallery 25 titled “Draw the Line,” they collaborate on an exhibition that employs light, sound and text to offer viewers “an opportunity to reflect upon global issues around climate change that threatens the health of our planet.”
Sharma tells me that the one concept-driven installation – incorporating sound, light, color and text — “activates the entire gallery space.”
There’s something about wet, cold (well, coldish, compared to the rest of the country) weather that gives ArtHop an extra burst of energy. Inside it’s warm and comfy, and people seem to linger over the art. Bee photographer Eric Paul Zamora and I took the opportunity at last night’s event to experiment with a different way of covering ArtHop — on video.
Our first stop: the Chris Sorensen Studio and an intriguing show titled “WORD.” Nearly 70 works are included in this exhibition, which focuses on text and the written word. It’s a strong, eclectic and provocative show. We talk with curator Edward Gillum about a couple of his own works — including a jab at the Tea Party’s role in the recent federal government shutdown.
Next we stop by Fig Tree Gallery, where Heather Anderson’s “Wilderness” highlights her passion for the Sierra Nevada. We talk with Anderson and get a chance to see some of the bold, vivid color choices that Anderson makes in depicting the mountains she loves.
Finally, a stop at K-Jewel Art Gallery, always a lively ArtHop stop. A big invitational exhibition raising money for heart research was accompanied by the group FresMorim, a Klezmer band. We talk with curator Karl Kallmann, who loves creating a party atmosphere. And you even get to see Fresno artist Evany Zirul dance.
The three videos are part of a YouTube playlist, so you can watch them in a row.
The Downtown Community Arts Collective is now known as P Street Studios. It features the renovated gallery space of artists Stephanie Pearl and Andrew Watrous, and for its first show features the mixed media art of Jason Plemons. Below: Plemons’ “Abstract Bridge.”
In Thursday’s Life section I feature artist Heather Anderson, who loves the Sierra Nevada with a profound intensity. In her later 80s, she’s still going strong, painting dynamic views of the wilderness that means so much to her. I offer a condensed version of my interview with her in the print edition, timed with the opening of her exhibition at Fig Tree Gallery for ArtHop. Here’s the extended version.
Question: Your show is titled “Wilderness.” How many paintings does it include, and are they all of views of the Sierra Nevada?
My largest series of works are of the Sierra Nevada, within which is much designated wilderness (except for Alaska, our largest U.Ss area of wilderness). Wilderness occurs in National Parks, National Forests, National Fish and Wildlife areas and (BLM) Bureau of Land Management areas. Yes, the work is all of the Sierra, the mountains John Muir called the Range of Light. I would like to have 36 views like Katsushika Hokusai but not sure how many will fit in the gallery.
I’ve already told you (lots) about the new M Street Arts Complex and its first ArtHop. Here are two other ArtHop picks from my story in Thursday’s Life section that deserve a special shout-out:
— Each year Spectrum Art Gallery invites a notable figure in photography to show his or her work. This year’s honored artist is master photographer Alan Ross, who worked side by side with Ansel Adams as his photographic assistant. An exhibit at Spectrum through Dec. 1 features more than 30 of Ross’ original photographs. He is best known for his tonally exquisite black-and-white photographs of the American West. This weekend, Ross will participate in two events at the gallery: an artist’s reception 4-8 p.m. Saturday; and on Sunday a photographic workshop.
— San Francisco artist and printmaker Beth Van Hoesen’s career spanned more than five decades. (She died in 2010.) Her work will be displayed in a special exhibition at 1821 Gallery & Studios at 1821 Calaveras St. through Nov. 27. The show includes examples of her pristine and elegant botanical art, along with a number of prints drawn from a series titled “Punks” focusing on young punk street people from San Francisco’s Castro District.
Plus: There’s the annual “Nudes in November” show at the Chris Sorensen Studio, an exhibition titled “Clay Paper Sticks” by Kathy Wosika at Fig Tree Gallery, and a big “Art and Music” show featuring bands Bad Suns, Fatty Cakes and Evelyn at ARTHOUSE. Happy Hopping!
My featured ArtHop artist for the month is Chris Janzen, a Fresno Pacific University art professor who combines his love of painting and jazz in his new show “More Again Now” at Fig Tree Gallery. I have an extended interview with Janzen in Thursday’s Life section.
Janzen tells me:
I apply oil to canvas during time periods of “performance,” like a musician in a recording studio, painting forms according to interests that arise in the moment. Often the painting starts off with a sketch or collage, but when I step back to examine it, I feel that the composition would be more meaningful if flipped upside down. Sometimes incidental “mistake” marks are more interesting than what I originally intended. Instead of planning what the composition will look like when it is finished, I rely on intuition and chance to help guide my paintings to completion.
Janzen describes his work as Menno Pop Surrealism — a clever term. Pictured above: his “The Dilemma.”
Prepare for a big, boisterous ArtHop tonight. Though temperatures are still high, September marks the start of the “fall season” — see Beehiver Traci’s seasonal pumpkin latte explanation (she’s already had 22 of them at Starbucks this week) — and lots of big art shows are planned.
– Dixie Salazar, pictured above, gets the big-story treatment in today’s Life section. Bee writer Angel Moreno takes a look at Salazar’s “Interconnections” exhibition, which continues through Sunday at Arte Americas. (Bee photo by Craig Kohlruss.)
– A show by local powerhouse artist Barbara Van Arnam is always a big deal. Her solo Gallery 25 exhibition “Yggdrasil: The Norse Tree of Life” uses Old Norse mythology as an inspiration. Earthen materials transform strange and legendary characters into new forms that embody all cultures’ essence and spirit. These figures speak to the essential power of Nature, the common thread that weaves our story through time. Hours update: The gallery is usually open noon-4 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. Van Arnam is adding Thursday hours, same times, during the show’s run through Sept. 29.
– 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.
December’s ArtHop is always a festive affair. And it can be a great way to shop for Christmas gifts. Both Gallery 25 and Fig Tree Gallery use the occasion to exhibit all-members shows, in which you get a taste of what lots of different artists have to offer.
I offer some ArtHop picks in Thursday’s Life section, including the members shows at Gallery 25 and Fig Tree. (Pictured below is Lylia Carr’s mixed-media piece “Winter” at Gallery 25.)
I also highlight a show by Paul Mullins at K-Jewel Art Gallery. It sounds as if the gallery will be a festive place to be, with entertainment by the City Singers and Brass Ensemble from Fresno City College. I’m even told that each visitor who walks through the door will get a slice of sweet potato pie. (Though one of my editors was curious about that menu selection: Is that considered a holiday dessert? K-Jewel folks, can you fill us in?)
On the jump: a couple more pieces of art you can see tonight. Feel free to leave a comment on this post saying where you’re planning to “Hop” tonight.
In my list of ArtHop picks coming up in Thursday’s Life section, I start off with the first solo show since 2009 from Robert Weibel, who has had a lot of fun the past few years making his “gunpowder drawings.”
Weibel’s show is at 1821 Gallery & Studios, 1821 Calaveras St. If you’re intrigued by Weibel’s technique and want to experience it firsthand, you’ll want to mark this date on your calendar: Oct. 13 at the gallery, when the artist will offer a live sundown demonstration of gunpowder drawing.
ArtHop is the monthly open house of studios and galleries in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods. It’s held 5-8 p.m. the first Thursday of the month (although some places stay open later.) For information on more venues, go to the ArtHop website.
We didn’t have room in the print edition to include all the images I would have liked to feature, so look for more on the jump.
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.
1. SAMPLE SOME OPERA
The California Opera Association kicks off its annual summer festival tonight with a introductory artists showcase at 7 p.m. at the Fresno Art Museum. There are three more weekend events: an “Opera Americana” youth showcase 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; and an abridged production of “La Traviata” (with principal singers but no chorus) at 2 p.m. Sunday, all at the museum. I have a big roundup in Friday’s 7 cover story about the festival. [Details]
I also offer my ArtHop picks in the print edition. Here they are with more images:
The Chris Sorensen Studio, 2223 S. Van Ness Ave., is holding a benefit exhibition for the Mariposa County Arts Council, which saw its offices and exhibition space destroyed in a May fire. Brian Kincade, one of the artists who lost work in the fire, is among the participants in the show.
One of the highlights of July’s ArtHop, which takes place 5-8 p.m. Thursday at galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods, is a big retrospective of works by Heinz Kusel at Fig Tree Gallery. (The works, donated by Kusel’s family, are being sold by silent auction.)
The artist, a Fresno State art professor and a well-known figure on the local arts scene until his death in 2005 at age 89, had a fascinating background that ranged from being forced to join the Hitler Youth to spending seven years in the Amazon with an indigenous tribe. I have an interview in Thursday’s Life section with Barbara Van Arnam, a former student of Kusel’s, who helped put the exhibition together.
Here’s an extended version of that interview. Following that, you can read a biographical summary about Kusel prepared by Elaine Lynn in conjunction with the show.
Question: What prompted this new exhibition of the works of Heinz Kusel?
Answer: Tom Kusel, Heinz’ son, after choosing the art that he and his family wanted to keep, felt it best to distribute Heinz’ artwork to the greater public, and to sell it, with proceeds going to benefit Fig Tree Gallery, where Heinz was a long time member. Tom wants Heinz’ legacy to live on beyond the immediate family.
1. GET ‘AWAKENED’
Lots of excitement over “Spring Awakening” at the Fresno Memorial Auditorium. I’ll be there tonight for opening. The show runs through July 7. We give the production a big splash in today’s issue of 7:
1. GET ‘MERRY’ WITH THE WIVES
“The Real Housewives of Windsor” they aren’t (well, maybe just a little), but Amelia Ryan as Mistress Page and Jennifer Hurd-Peterson as Mistress Ford manage to stir up a lot of silly in the first show of the Woodward Shakespeare Festival summer season. “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is anchored by a wonderfully puffed-up performance by Aaron Spjute, whose blustery Falstaff tries to woo the two leading matrons in town, with predictably disastrous results. It plays 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday.
1. GET ‘DIRTY’ ONE LAST TIME
The Good Company Players happy production of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is in its final weekend. Peter Allwine (pictured below), Gordon Moore and Danielle Jorn give high-caliber comedic performances in this adaptation of the 1988 film. [Details]
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.
In Thursday’s Life section I offer some picks for tonight’s ArtHop, the monthly open house of studios and galleries in the downtown and Tower District areas. Top on my list is Ramiro Martinez’s Anvil Gallery & Studio, which has just opened in Manchester Center mall — an unlikely spot for an ArtHop venue. From my story:
The gallery is the first of its kind in the shopping center, but Martinez says he doesn’t feel artistically lonely. He hopes that more galleries will follow.
It’s an interesting location for a new gallery, and an exciting one. Can you imagine if three or four galleries joined Martinez’s to create a nice little ArtHop destination? It could become a new unlikely hot spot.
This young-and-hip Israeli percussion duo PercaDu teams up with the Fresno Philharmonic 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. I interview Adi Morag, one-half of the duo, in today’s issue of 7. Also on the Philharmonic program: Barber’s “School for Scandal Overture” and the Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 1.
1. ENJOY A RADIO PLAY
I don’t know what the ticket situation is for “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” for the final two performances tonight and Saturday at Fresno State, but an email I received yesterday from the box office was encouraging people to buy beforehand and avoid long lines. I gave this charming production my highest recommendation. Here’s my review.
Ogata — one of Fresno’s great talents — calls his new show “Haiku.” The photo above doesn’t do the works in this series justice. There’s an intense, dimensional feeling of depth to these minimalist works done in chalk and acrylic, and it’s easy to let your eyes almost swim in them, especially when you get up close. I love the moody color schemes, the sense of line and movement, the way that the elongated shadows seem to stretch to impossible proportions. If you were to inspect an inventory of the actual elements of these works — the lack of strong colors, the large amounts of open space, the near-organic forms (are they flowers? dragonflies?) in heavy silhouette — you’d think the whole experience would be somber. But the works come across as brisk, lively, light. They’re enveloping.
The artist’s reception at Fig Tree Gallery for the show will be 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the gallery, 644 Van Ness Ave.