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Views of the ‘artisan herd’

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It looks like the artists who herded themselves together at the North Fork Children’s Christmas Parade and Party had a blast. The artists marched in the parade as a herd of imaginative deer. I interviewed artist Marij Bouwmans in Thursday’s Life section in an advance story on the parade:

Each artist will be hiding under a cape — artistically decorated, of course — and thrusting a deer head with antlers high into the air as horns blare and bells ring. The artists hope the effect will be something between jaunty holiday cheer and the mystery of a masquerade, in which anonymity and artistic impulse swirl into a celebratory high.

More photos on the jump.

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Meet the artists of ‘Breakthrough’

Sunday’s Spotlight section puts the spotlight on “Breakthrough,” the terrific new Fresno Art Museum show featuring six vibrant artists with Fresno connections. You can read my centerpiece column about the show here. (Sneak preview: I loved it. My only regret with this column is that I didn’t have enough space to go into as much detail as I would have liked with each of the six individual exhibitions that make up “Breakthrough.” But I’m sure I’ll have more to say in the weeks to come.) Bee photographer Craig Kohlruss and John Alvin collaborated on the image above.

I asked each of the six artists to complete an email interview with me about themselves and their work in the show. We feature interview excerpts in Sunday’s print edition. (Also, don’t forget that we have a nice online photo gallery where you can view examples of each artist’s work.) On the jump you’ll find the extended versions of the interviews.

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Wow, what an opening

You know there’s excitement ahead at a Fresno Art Museum opening when you have to drive WAY down the block to find a parking place. I’d never seen so many people at an opening as for last night’s “Breakthrough.” I heard through the grapevine that as many as 600 people (update: final count was more than 750) crowded in for this exhibition devoted to six promising artists with Fresno connections. And many looked to be in their 20s and 30s, exactly the demographic the museum needs to keep the momentum going.

One of the highlights was Caleb Duarte’s installation piece, a work loaded with meaning. For the show, Duarte recreated a performance art piece he originally made in a small village outside Chiapas, Mexico, that involved the villagers burying him and his partner, Mia, up to the head in a shallow, hand-dug hole in the dirt. For the museum version, Duarte created a 12-by-6 foot slab of “dirt” (made of concrete and soil) that seems to float out from the wall. There’s a hole for a person to stand in the middle of that slab.

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To-Do Tonight: ArtHop

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One of my picks in Thursday’s Life section for ArtHop is an emotional show from Cynthia Chapman Manuszak at the Lofts at Pacific Towers on the Fulton Mall. I write:

For her new show, “Jude, the Story of a Woman,” the artist followed her subject, Judy Arke, for two years. Making both photographs and hand paintings, Manuszak created an interesting artistic dynamic with Arke — a relationship that went farther than mere observer/recorder to more of an interactive character in her subject’s life. Both had experienced emotional traumas connected with the men in their lives.

The exhibition also features works by other artists, including a series of “body presses” — a a technique in art therapy, which Manuszak is pursuing as a graduate degree at Fresno Pacific University, involving a subject pressing his or her mostly nude body against a canvas smeared with paint — from several women.

This is an ArtHop-only exhibition, with one repeat on Feb. 18.

More ArtHop picks after the jump. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

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