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Eclectic exhibit ‘blends’ artists, media

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by Gloria Diaz
Arts & Entertainment Editor

The new art exhibit displayed in the Harris Art Gallery incorporates the different methods art produces by using mundane materials as a source of art.

“Blend” features the work of three Los Angeles artists Alison Forshee, Robin Szidak and Melissa Thorne, exhibiting eight works total.

The three Forshee pieces are made from pushpins and thumbtacks on cork, courtesy of DiRT Gallery in Los Angeles.

Close to the gallery’s entrance is a piece by Forshee made of pushpins on a purple cork- board.

The piece, measuring 61 inches wide, makes the spherical shapes protrude off the board.

There is a contrast between the dark background and the bright lively colors of the pushpins.

The fact that the pushpins are used to make up these detailed pieces makes them extravagant.

It also shows how labor intensive the pieces are, which is something that all the works in the exhibit have in common.

The forms are odd but recognizable.

Forshee’s work brings to mind the colorful creatures of the sea.

“Forshee transforms these mundane office supplies into ornate variations on such divergent themes as floral arrangement and cellular division,” Ruth Trotter wrote in a guide to the exhibition.

The pieces by Szidak, which were brought to the University of La Verne from Szidak’s private collection, resemble paint by numbers.

“I like having other people being able to see the pieces and hear their perspectives,” Szidak said.

A paint by numbers can be bought at a craft store and is a picture with different numbers on the picture that has a color assigned to a number.

The color that was assigned to be number 10 became number one when it came time to paint the canvas. This gives her pieces a different meaning. No longer are they the peaceful scenes they were at the time of purchase from the art store.

“91032 Running Horses” shies away from a usual “paint by numbers” that a child would do, and turns it into something more complicated.

Szidak chose to reverse the order of the colors to paint both her pieces to make them more complicated, she said.

“I like the idea of taking images that can become darker and have alternative messages,” Szidak said.

The color of the sky is a dangerous brown and the horses have hints of blue.

The river the horses are crossing is not a clean blue, but the same brown used to make up the sky.

“[Her paintings] are more akin to the paintings of 19th century masters, than to quaint hobby store landscapes,” Trotter said.

Last, but certainly not least in this lavish show of art is Thorne, whose pieces take a more feminine approach.

Her pieces were inspired by crocheted doilies, potholders and other items that are usually associated with traditional feminine activities.

The piece “Radiant City” is inspired by a crocheted doily that towers 91 inches high and forces the observer to stand away from the piece to absorb it.

But standing closer to it, the flaws in this painting are easier to see.

There are places where the paint becomes transparent and other spots that have small globs of hot pink paint.

What comes to mind is mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters sitting around and knitting afghans and doilies for the kitchen table or a couch.

“Her work brings these traditional craft systems into play with the values of Modernist painting as a purely formal construct,” Trotter said.

“Blend” runs through Nov. 22 in the Harris Art Gallery.

For more information contact the Harris Art Gallery at extension 4763 or Dion Johnson at extension 4273.

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