Radius Gallery hosts SJSU MFA graduate show “Liftoff” featuring 13 emerging artists

The owner of Radius Gallery walks in front of one of the works from LiftOff.
Ann Hazels passes in front of a work from SJSU’s MFA Exhibition “Liftoff” at the Radius Gallery

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.

Karlie Anderson Paints Portraits of Grief

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’s Artifacts and Evidence

Michael Favagrossahttps://www.instagram.com/ceramicroots/ 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’s AI Celebrity Self Portraits

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’s Digital Tarot Cards

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.

Pop Gore Art: Paintings by Tyler Benjamin Speas

Horror and More at Little Giant Collective

Art is only limited by imagination and craft. When you find an artist who has a big ability to dream with a fine set of skills you get a show worthy of studying. This is the case with Speas’ recent exhibition entitled “Guts and Stuff.” When I spoke with Speas at his opening, he gave me some insight into the work.

Speas likes to create discomfort in his viewers. As it states on his website: “Being uncomfortable helps you to grow.” Working with pen and ink and acrylic paint, his paintings have a graphic quality in both senses of the word. They are both covering a disturbing subject and they are rendered vividly.

On one canvas, the artist has cut his face off revealing a nest of multicolored guts lurking just beneath the surface. At this point in the transformation, the guts are still inside and we see that the colorful caterpillars that crawled inside of his ear have been living inside the artists’ face and are now in cocoons. This introspective canvas may be an allusion to Van Gogh, another great redheaded painter, who famously portrayed himself after cutting off his own ear. He was an artist with a lot of guts, too.

The guts series started with a self portrait during the pandemic. The painting works because of the humor of the concept and the friendliness of the image. The pink, orange, and green guts spewing out of Speas’ wide open mouth accompany a collection of butterflies suggesting a beautiful metamorphosis instead of merely a disgusting one. Rendered like a comic book, the image asks the viewer if this character’s superpower is to barf beautifully.

This triptych concludes with the full transformation of the artist into a man made entirely of guts. He gives the viewer a double thumbs up gesture assuring us that he is untroubled by his change. Check out the full exhibition with more work from this series before the month is up, and visit the artist at his website Blood on Brushes, to learn more or to contact him to purchase a canvas or the series.

Coeleen Kiebert’s Badass Ceramic Art

Facing Mortality

Coeleen Kiebert is a beloved figure in the Santa Cruz arts community and beyond. Her work at the recent show “Glimpse” curated by Ann Hazels at the Radius Gallery shows why people love her and her work. These exquisite figurines bring a soulful aesthetic to thinking about the end of life.

Let’s Do This, Anubis

For this series, Kiebert chose the Egyptian God Jackal/ Anubis as the subject of her intuitive artistic process. At 90 years old, Kiebert has accepted the inevitable and insightfully forms a trio in contemplation of transitioning to the next phase of living/ dying. Anubis is an ancient Egyptian deity responsible for leading people into the afterlife, and Kiebert’s contemporary take on the dog-headed form has real impact and presence.

Seriously Beautiful

Each of the 14 artists who exhibited work in “Glimpse” portrayed a serious problem with imagination and a beautiful aesthetic. As the most senior woman in this talented group, Kiebert fulfilled her role as stateswoman with gravity and grace.

March Online Auction

One of One Acrylic Transfers

I made 10 new transfers available online today. When these images are finally on canvas, they come to life. The final product is a beautiful thing.

Triptych Tripping

This first group of three goes well as a trip.

“Redwood Light,” “Vineland,” and “Into Night.”

$120 each or $330 for the group.

Seacliff Storm Gems

This next three also works as a group.

“Stone Lines,” “Storm Lines,” and “Seacliff Treasure.”

$120 each, or $330 for the three.

Ponderosa Pining

“Lightning Pine” $120

This image is one of my favorite photos of a tree. It’s a beautiful specimen twisted into a unique phenomenon by lightning most likely.

Rare Finds

“Forest Bullfrog,” “Buckeye Spring,” and “Fire Figure.”

$120 each or $330 for the three.

This last group of three were each something that I came across that is very rare. The bullfrog showed up on a trail at the end of a long day of hiking. The first couple of days when the Buckeyes open up their leaves gave me the second photo. The third one was a burnt Redwood stub I saw on a hike that looked like a figurine.