STATE OF THE ART 2008 GALLERY EXHIBITION: Sculpture for 8 State Street Sites
AUgUST 9 - NOVEMBER 15, 2008
The State of the Art Gallery 2008 Exhibition (SOAG 2008), now in its 5th year, is a unique collaboration between the City and County of Santa Barbara and the Downtown Organization, with funding support from the City of Santa Barbara Redevelopment Agency. The sculptures were on view from August 9 through November 15, 2008.
This year the 2008 finalists were chosen by Curator Dean Anes, the director of Acme Gallery in Los Angeles. Nine regional artists, Richard Aber, Jeff Elings, Ed Inks, Bill Malis, Rafael Perea de la Cabada & Matthew Woodford, Jeff Sanders, Helle Scharling-Todd and Nathan Snyder, created sculptures for State Street, in the heart of the Cultural Arts District. Anes said, “Art making can be a very solitary endeavor but once a work or sculpture is complete the artist does not want only familiar eyes to see it, they want it to be shared and experienced by many. Whereas public spaces, and often our lives, feel so regulated, State of the Art Gallery 2008 exhibition provides residents and visitors to Santa Barbara the wonderful experience, through public art, of the unexpected.”
Richard Aber’s tall, uncomplicated form is like a golden torch, big enough to be seen from the heavens. The coated canvas is an unusual material for outdoor sculpture acting like a skin or scales and yet is reminiscent of roof shingles used in building. The title Stupa refers to the Buddhist structures erected at sacred sites. The golden form is cherished and revered like an ancient geometric deity. The towering structure seems to be a beacon; but may also be seen as something good for the palate.
Jeff Elings has worked in the diverse fields of engineering, robotics, organic farming, and mechanics. His varied interests seem to have coalesced and resulted in sculptural forms seemingly from another world. The massive steel skinned form Gooto, utilizing innovative fabrication techniques, is both industrial and organic at the same time. The metal rounded forms look as if they are not fully grown, that it could bloom, separate or open at any moment achieving an effect that is both alien and familiar at the same time.
Professor of sculpture, Ed Inks, has worked at the Santa Barbara City College since 1991. In recent work he has been exploring some of sculpture’s roots by crafting large-scale vessels. Working this time with bronze rods, Inks has created the cage-like frame of a vessel; vessels being the most ancient sculptural form. The work is a combination of opposites. Suggestive of a heavy and mysterious form, it is instead open, welcoming and light. His bronze urn, The Birth of Bacchus, brings to mind the relics of antiquity while being, paradoxically, a form composed of contemporary fabricated materials with a modern means of metal working and welding.
A multi-media collaborative team, Rafael Perea de la Cabada and Matthew Woodford pooled their creative resources to give State Street a monolith of consumerism for the new century. The steel tower’s frame holds “desired” goods inside. Viewers can look but are not able to touch the cuddly and colorful plush contents. The visually arresting structure may conjure memories, possibly recent or perhaps from our past or childhood. The sculpture incorporates open space on all four vertical sides, drawing the observer into the maze of consumerism. Persistence of the Unnecessary mirrors the store windows surrounding it and has fun with the associations.
It is Bill Malis’ good fortune to live and make art in La Conchita. His sculptures are made with “industrial discards” and “organic decay” which is most often found on the public beaches close to his working residence. For a century now Western artists have recycled or repurposed discarded objects into works of art. Malis’ work continues in this tradition. He enjoys the challenge and process of gathering materials to eventually piece them together to be realized into a creative and powerful object. Enshrined Detritus: Open Frame Series #3 is his largest sculpture to date and resembles a Japanese character or symbol.
As a frequent fabricator and collaborator Jeff Sanders has an impressive résumé having worked with many important American artists. A long time resident of Ojai, Sander’s sculptures and art works often use humor for social and political commentary. The steel and aluminum obelisk is reminiscent of not just the Washington monument, but more ominously, a watch tower. The Latin title Annuit Coeptis (Trans: He approves our undertakings) is taken from the Great Seal on the reverse side of the one-dollar bill. Familiar but mysterious, the subject suggests the eye of “God” is watching and approving of our movements and decisions. The structure is filled with crushed cans done by the artist’s hand in an almost meditative process, an action of care for our troubled environment. This material of recycled matter is reaching higher and higher toward the heavens.
Born in Denmark and now a resident of Ventura, Helle Scharling-Todd has a variety of art works in public spaces, not only in the tri-county area but nationally and internationally. For many years her art practice consisted of stained glass and mosaics. More recently she has been making metal sculptures at her Ventura studio and home. The powder-coated blue metal structure, Color Molecules on State Street is adorned with colored glass discs and represents her combined interest in the relationship of art and science. Scharling-Todd has blown-up the microscopic world of molecular structures and added her own touches of color and whimsy. The lyrical configuration invites viewers to ponder this mysterious world in a much lighter fanciful way.
A native of Hawaii, Nathan Snyder moved to Santa Barbara to be a part of the art community and apprentice with Montecito sculptor Aristides Demetrios. He is a graduate of the University of Hawaii and is now an on-site technician for the foundry at Santa Barbara City College. His sculpture, Our World Breaking Open, is made of gleaming stainless steel, which represents the spherical symbol of the globe. This planet resembles a puzzle or lock-like form with the presence of power and strength as it sits on a solid base. The open shapes in the sculpture appear like a digital code, with missing units and the structural mass coming apart.
Rita Ferri, Public Arts Coordinator and Curator of Collections for the County Arts Commission who organized the SOAG 2008 exhibition says, “Many people will be surprised by the breadth and diversity of art practices of our regional artists in this State of the Art Gallery 2008 Exhibition. Area artists have pushed themselves to create something that will delight, challenge or inform everyone who visits State Street. In some way each artist’s sculpture will make the familiar landscape new again.”
The State of the Art Committee, which initiated the review and approval process, is comprised of sixteen city and art organization members including a Santa Barbara Council liaison. This exhibition is the direct result of the Santa Barbara community’s vision and commitment to placing public art in the heart of the Cultural Arts District and funded by a grant from the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Barbara, and Santa Barbara Beautiful; support from Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD), Betty and Bob Klausner and Betty Wells, and the cooperation of the Downtown Organization.
| PAST SOAG EXHIBITIONS
Richard Aber, Stupa
Jeff Elings, Gooto
Rafael Perea de la Cabada & Matthew Woodford, Persistance of the Unnecessary
Jeff Sanders, Annuit Coeptis
Helle Scharling-Todd, Color Molecules
Luis Jimenez, Border, from a past State of the Art Gallery