Friday, January 5, 2007

Web of art

Note: In the print version my editor titled this "Scrolling for art" but I prefer my original title: "Web of art."

Published in the Volcano Jan. 4 '07

Talk about serendipity. I had thought of writing about some of the strange and wonderful art that can be found on the Internet. But before starting to write I decided to check my e-mail -- or, to be more accurate, to scroll through and delete nearly 200 pieces of electronic junk mail. In the process, I stumbled upon a link to a fascinating Web site from The Underwater Sculpture Gallery in Grenada, West Indies. This site highlights an amazing project by sculptor Jason Taylor on the island of Grenada: an undersea sculpture park consisting of an artificial reef of underwater sculptures depicting the peoples of Grenada and their history.

I can only imagine how overwhelming it must be to go there and see this project onsite. It’s fascinating enough viewed on a computer screen. The Web site explains the uniqueness of viewing it in person: “An underwater gallery creates a whole new perspective on the world. Submerged objects are affected by different conditions both physical and emotional. Objects appear 25% larger and closer, colours are changed as light is absorbed differently by the water. The surface of the sea creates an ever-changing kaleidoscope of light, whilst its turbidity acts as a filter. The aquatic medium affords the viewer a multitude of angles and perspectives and thus transforms the traditional role of passive observer into an active process of discovery and engagement.”

The gallery shows many of Taylor’s sculptures both in and out of their watery sites, starting with an eerie installation of 16 figures cast from a woman named Grace. Go diving and watch the barnacles grow on Grace.

Then there’s British graffiti, collage and installation artist Banksy. His art is guerrilla art. It can be sneaky, infuriating and sometimes baffling. It defies authority and questions all of our preconceived notions. It makes us laugh as we squirm. And I have absolutely no idea if the people who own the buildings he paints on allow him to do his art on their property or if he does the deed in the dark of night.

Sometimes the humor in Banksy’s art is so subtle it is easily missed. Other times it slaps you in the face. Examples: a giant rat holds a dripping paintbrush with which he has written, “I’m out of bed and dressed. What more do you want?”; a tiger escapes a bar code cage (you have to see it); spear-wielding aborigines hunt shopping carts; an elegantly dressed man and woman dance on a beach where toxic wastes are being unloaded; and there’s the ever-present elephant in the room.

Local and area artists are also well represented on the Web. One Olympia-based artist who has an interesting Web site and who is an active blogger to boot is Diane Kurzyna, aka Ruby Re-Usable, the Dumpster Diving Diva. Readers of this column will recognize the name. I have reviewed her work on numerous occasions, beginning with various incarnations her “White Trash Wedding,” a wedding party sculpted out of recycled materials. For years, Kurzyna used Wonder Bread wrappers in almost all of her sculptures. More recently, she has gone to the use of plastic wrap and clear tape in life-size figures inspired by the sculptor George Segal.

Kurzyna is also a curator and a tireless promoter of recycled art, not only her own, but the work of other artists she admires, such as Seattle artists Marita Dingus, Ross Palmer Beecher and Jessica Geiger.

Another fascinating site from a local artist is that of Eugene Parnell, sculptor and manager of the Ice Box Gallery. Watch out. You can get caught up in Parnell’s site and waste your life away.

1 comment:

Ruby Re-Usable said...

Feeling the love, Art Guy, got to say, I feel so honored to be mentioned in the same article as Banksy!

Meanwhile, the show at SPSCC is really cohesive for a juried group show, hope you get a chance to check it out. Am looking forward to seeing YOUR show there, until then, love, etc Ruby