June 19 – September 4, 2004

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Uh, Oh!
Brennen Bechtol
  Drop Spread
Kate Petley
  Spring Bed Sequence
John Holt Smith

On Saturday, June 19th, 2004 from 6-8 pm, William Campbell Contemporary Art will open a group exhibition titled surface , a curated exhibition of artists for whom ‘surface’ is an important aspect of their work, whether it be an inherent quality of the medium with which the artist works or a result of the artist’s working process. Having long been captivated by an artwork’s surface quality, this exhibition provides insight into personal tastes. The exhibition could take many perspectives to achieve this idea. We have chosen a largely minimal aesthetic to present this aspect of ‘surface’.

Nineteen artists are included in this exhibition - Brennen Bechtol, Carol Benson, Matt Clark, Richard Earnheart, John Frost, Jake Gilson, Otis Jones, Jae Won Lee, Monte Martin, David Maxwell, Jesse Meraz, Kate Petley, Stephen Price, Randall Reid, Tom Sime, John Holt Smith, Stephanie Weber, Kathy Webster and Patrick Young. Several of the artists reside in Texas, while others represent California, Utah, New Jersey, Colorado and New Mexico.

Sensuality, serenity, rhythm, and even humor – these are just a few words that might come to mind while viewing the work included in surface. Materials range from canvas, to clay, to metal, to shower curtains and from wax to glitter to plaster, each medium used in a non-traditional manner, and from two-dimensional to three-dimensional. Though the work is varied, a minimalist aesthetic prevails with surfaces subtle and understated.

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Kathy Webster works with wax, with the velvet texture of soft skin. Her work is based on industrial production and the aftermath of its presentation, using the ‘blister packs’ used to package a variety of products as her molds. She also produces work in fiberglass - same thought process, different scale - with the lustrous finish of a sleek racecar.

David Maxwell makes sculpture/objects that are intriguing and sensual, exploring nontraditional materials, and alternatives of presentation. Maxwell’s current mediums of choice are glycerin and wax. By casting and carving the dye infused glycerin, he creates slabs, cubes and geometric shapes of color. Text is incorporated into these works, at times chosen from definitions of related words dealing with relationships, meditational mantras, and chains of consciousness. Known for his paintings employing thick wax surfaces, Tom Sime is now experimenting with similar effects in acrylic medium and resin. His Vapors series explores abstraction based on mysterious organic and mineral structures. Intended as visions of order and serenity, these paintings suggest parallels between gigantic and minute patterns of organization.

John Holt Smith’s works are based upon photographs of people and places, then identifying the ‘color signature’ of the image through a technology known as spectroscopy, and translating that reductive image into a painting. The result is a rhythmic pattern of line and color that Smith then paints upon an aluminum substrate. Similarly, Berkeley artist Stephanie Weber paints upon an aluminum substrate and wooden panels. Often called a ‘sensual minimalist’, Weber’s works utilize geometric panels to create her shaped paintings, creating both a rhythm and a tension between the elements.

Encaustic, pigment suspended in beeswax, is used by Carol Benson ( See her gallery ) on steel or wooden panels, subtle images being drawn upon the surfaces. Her vocabulary of images – houses or the datura blossom – may be translated into reductive three-dimensional shapes and covered with the encaustic in a single hue.

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Randall Reid ( See his gallery ) works in resin and steel. The objects he produces are to be contemplated beyond first impression. Meticulous and calculated in his work, Reid defies the idea that the finished product achieves merely “a look.” His work is architectural and mathematic, while creating an intriguing visual perspective.

Jae Won Lee, a New Jersey artist, works with sensuous, understated ceramics. Her work is purely contemplative. It emotes no statement, it only requires thought. It is a contemporary Rosetta Stone, possessing a vocabulary we desire to understand! In contrast, Kate Petley of Colorado uses almost day-glo poured resin on Plexiglas panels, their colors undulating and pooling as the resin cools. The work is displayed on narrow, wall-mounted platforms, the color in the resin panels creating a surrounding glow against the wall.

John Frost and Patrick Young work with transparent materials, allowing the viewer to see beyond the ‘surface.’ Frost uses translucent plastic shower curtains, masking off areas and allowing the soap and water of daily use to create the desired image. Patrick Young hand-dyes silk, often manipulating silk screening techniques, and layering combinations of the process creating subtle patterns. Each artist then stretches his ‘canvas’ over a painted background, creating a duality and play between foreground and background.

Plaster and steel, either in combination or alone, are used by several of the artists. Jake Gilson ( See his gallery ) uses gun bluing on steel panels to create subtle bowl or ‘float’ shaped images upon the smooth steel. An enameled grid of small dots on the surface is sometimes used to symbolize the conscious world, while the float shape symbolizes the unconscious.

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New Mexico’s Richard Earnheart uses flat panels of ground, galvanized steel in combination with slabs of thick plaster. Color and pattern are embedded into the plaster panels and meticulously sanded to a smooth, satin finish; one side seems to mimic the other, and in reality, they have little in common.

A sensuous surface is created with plaster medium or resin applied to canvas in Otis Jones’ ( See his gallery ) circular paintings. Minimal imagery buried in layers of the smoothly sanded plaster medium seduces the viewer to touch. The paintings are provocative and engaging, leaving the formal elements of color, scale and composition to achieve a personal and emotional response.

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Jesse Meraz’ preoccupation with the complexities relative to the reflective nature of glitter is an interest that has led to the production of vividly hued “paintings”. Generally the paintings are geometric in shape, void of representational content, reflective of contemporary culture. Much like contemporary advertising and signage, his work immediately connects the viewer to the painting. They are stark in design, complex in texture, and intriguing as lighted objects.

For Brennen Bechtol, drawing is the means by which his ideas are expressed. Recently, he has chosen plaster animals as his medium for a series of works involving conflict and problem solving. Fur is meticulously drawn upon a plaster lion’s body with black ink and a flame painted upon white plastic has been applied to the lion’s nose. Plaster is also used by Matt Clark, but in a markedly different manner. Using logo imagery and rejected color plaster objects, Clark buries these smaller shapes into larger blocks of white plaster, sanding them down to reveal the buried shape that becomes the beginning of a logo or an echo of one.

The concept of order and design in a seemingly random chance is explored by Monte Martin. He draws attention to subtle parallels and similarities with slick, geometric abstraction in his mixed-media works.

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Steven Price creates works using high gloss laminate, inlaying reductive images to make ‘drawings.’ According to Price, “sculpture has become surface…colors are black and white…iconography is gone: circles and squares are all that is left.”

Previous Gallery Shows

Judy Youngblood: May 1 - June 5, 2004