SJSU’s MFA program held an opening for their exhibition “Liftoff” at Radius Gallery on Thursday and will participate in First Friday Santa Cruz on June 2nd 5-8:00pm with Artist Talks scheduled for Sunday the 4th at 3:30pm. 13 recently graduated artists are showing some of their work at one of the most compelling contemporary art galleries in Santa Cruz. With a wide variety of media, concepts, and artistic styles on display,this show is a great opportunity to experience some of the new energy in the South Bay art world. Discover a favorite emerging artist, explore a cutting-edge gallery, and feast your eyes and mind on artistic content at Radius Gallery’s events this weekend.
Among the standouts, a series of paintings exploring the experience of grief by Karlie Anderson was moving for the unfiltered sincerity of emotion on display. The artist confronts death by painting loved ones who have passed along with a letter addressed to the deceased. The series is brave for the vulnerability the artist exposes. It is also courageous for using paint and writing in an increasingly digital age. The melancholic beauty and deft paint handling remind me of Marlene Dumas, one of my favorite painters. I also love work that exists at the border between painting and writing. You will have an entirely different experience looking at the portraits if you read the artist’s statement and her letters.
Michael Favagrossa also had a compelling installation showcasing his unique sensibilities. The work had two components: a ceramic sculpture splayed out on a table elevated on cinderblocks framed with electric fence wire and a photo series in black and white with a similar frame. I saw the workinitially as depicting a kind of alien form. It appeared to be a fictional representation of a discovered fossil like what used to be pictured on the tabloids in supermarkets during the 90s. Once I got the story behind the series, it took on a whole other dimension. I’ll save that discovery for you to investigate. Favagrossa is an artist who explores the relationship between ceramics, performance, labor, and agriculture and is interesting to say the least.
Hunter Ridenour had another fun and experimental series on display combining photography, AI generated imagery, and popular culture influenced design. It is a series of fictional self-portraits that is both a celebration of celebrity and a parody of how we consume their images. The work has that uncanny sense that AI images evoke, and it asks the viewer to consider questions of the division between art and popular culture and the concept of intellectual property. In an age where the people who are developing AI have issued a warning about its potential to cause our extinction, this work is asking important questions about deep fakery and identity.
James William Moore is another artist using AI in a series of digital Tarot cards shown randomly rotating on a screen installed in the gallery. Moore is a conceptual artist working in a variety of media and in this piece, he uses photography and AI to create his own version of Tarot. Make sure to ask Moore about the imagery to learn more about his process.
All the art in the show has something interesting to offer, and I look forward to returning to meet more of the artists and to delve deeper into their work. There is an amazing sculptural installation in the center of the gallery featuring different anatomical parts in clay, drawing, and cyanotype prints. There is a collage of photos telling an intimate story of a life in one large chaotic composition. There is sure to be something you haven’t seen before, and plenty for you to explore.
Radius Gallery continues to give Santa Cruz smart and edgy contemporary art, and you have the chance to meet some of the artists represented in this show this Friday from 5-8:00pm and for the artist talk on Sunday June 4th, 3:30 at the Radius Gallery located at the Tannery Arts Center on River St.
The show was curated by Andrew McNeely and features exhibiting artists: Heidi Alonzo, Karlie Anderson, Sydney Brown, Adrienne Defendi, Ian Gerard Fabre, Michael Favagrossa, Monica Galvan, Rachel Hester, Katharine T. Jacobs, Imelda Josie Lepe, Natalie Mcbride, James William Moore, Hunter Ridenour, Lucia Znamirowski.