Thursday, September 24, 2015

Faculty and Staff Exhibition at SPSCC

Photo: “tv kills u,” mixed media painting by Liza Brenner

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 24, 2015

"Happy Hour" mixed media painting by Liza Brenner
This year’s faculty and staff art exhibition is one of the better shows they’ve had in quite some time and the best faculty exhibition since I’ve been reviewing them.
The first thing to strike the eye when entering the gallery is Joe Batt’s installation, “Oculus.” It is a dramatic, inventive and skillfully executed grouping of a stoneware sculpture and hanging mobiles made of wood and painted with pastel. It’s a slight variation on a similar installation readers may remember from Batt’s show at Salon Refu a year ago. The stoneware figure is a young boy dressed in white sweats and white running shoes with pale blue toes and Velcro straps. He’s wearing some kind of charcoal colored visor over his eyes. The mobile hanging above him is a group of eight satellites made of plywood and lightly colored with pastels. I love the worn-wood look of the mobile contrasted with the pasty white of the figure. Batt is also showing three nicely done mixed-media digital collages which expand on the themes of “Oculus.”
Liza Brenner is new to the SPSCC faculty and the South Sound arts scene - a most welcome newcomer. Her three mixed-media paintings with collage in this exhibition are a joy to look at. They are comically surreal with odd juxtapositions of people and objects that do not belong together — the juxtaposition of disparate elements being the very definition of surrealism. Her “What Makes Hannah Snell So Appealing?” (what a wonderful title!) is a picture of a 16th century man wearing a red smoking jacket in the interior of a house. Sharing the house with him are monkeys, one riding in a baby carriage and one wide-eyed monkey hanging from the ceiling and holding a camera, a modern camera of a type that did not exist when men dressed like the one in the painting.
Brenner’s “Happy Hour with Friends” depicts a couple seating at a table having a friendly drink. In front of them is a group of deer, and on the wall behind them are portraits of people, presumably the friends of the title. The deer and the portraits are all contour drawings done with a brush and fairly heavy paint. All of her paintings are roughly executed in a nice manner.
More decorative are Jane Stone’s oxidation-fired ceramic tiles, each mounted in groups of two, three or four and each grouping united by theme. There’s one with images of flowers, one with landscape scenes with bodies of water, and a two-tile set with a crow and a bird’s nest with eggs. All are delicately painted; my favorites are the streams of water.
There are three paintings by Nathan Barnes, two of which I have reviewed when they were in previous shows, and one new one that is a double-faced portrait of his sister, a pianist. There are clever references to pianos. His painted constructions are always inventive and beautifully crafted.
There are also some great works by Daniel Meuse that are dark and ominous, and works by Colleen Gallagher, Liza Mellinger and Nicole Gugliotti. I wish I had space in this column to write more about all of them. But you don’t need to read what I have to say; just go to this show and see for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

South Puget Sound Community College, Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. through Oct. 30, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia, 360.596.5527.]

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