The Atkinson diet : 'Small Images' at SBCC brings together a diverse group of talents working small but thinking big
By Josef Woodard
Santa Barbara News Press, Scene Magazine
November 28, 2008 12:19 PM
Top: Penelope Gottlieb's Mid-Century Wow! is one of several real estate-themed pieces in the SBCC show Small Images 2008. Middle" Mark Lozano's The Space Between, and below: Nicole Strasburg's Brush Fire, take the theme in digressing directions. COURTESY PHOTOS
For many years now, the Atkinson Gallery at Santa Barbara City College has been the go-to place for anti-epic art, thanks to the ever-alluring Small Images show. If the tradition is predictable as calendar clockwork, the artistic viewpoints and specifics heed a nice diversification year to year, thanks to the rotation of outside jurors. As wisely chosen this year by Daniel Dove, a painter and assistant professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, this year's crop is a strong - and definitely wee - one.
One of the charms of the show is the opportunity to check in on regional artists we thought we knew, but in a radically altered scale. Larry Iwerks is a respected member in the landscape painter scene here, and his Aspen at Flagstaff is a loosely brushed oil, almost small enough to fit in a wallet. On the almost comically microscopic scale, Beverly Decker's acrylic-on-canvas piece is truly pocket-sized and assemblage handyman Dug Uyesaka's sculptural bauble is a miniaturist's dream.
Deceptively small in scale and in tactile imprint, the normally concept-driven artist Penelope Gottlieb shows witty, faint, pencil-on-paper drawings of suburban houses, the pencil colors matching the kitschy frames and fitted with titles tinged by real estate marketing language - i.e. Mid-Century Wow! and Handyman's Heaven! But the exclamation points are a stark contrast to the artist's soft touch and dry humor.
Self-conscious compactness isn't the only concern in the show. Among the sculptural entries, Gayle J. Waite's fancifully stitched fabric art/soft sculpture comes equipped with the mock-lofty title nonconforming tactile substrata while Colin Fallat's Tool Time mimics a functional tool box, but in the unseemly material of ceramic and metal.
Jens Pedersen, the longtime Santa Barbara-based artist whose relief sculptures happily violate the boundaries of painting and sculpture, shows his work, in smaller form than usual. Shauna Moses' untitled ceramic vessel is conspicuously tiny, but Jon Go's Crumpled Up Ball of Frustration lives up to its title with its gnarled mass of vari-colored acrylic, an emblem of clenched tension.
In the painting corner, Nicole Strasburg's Brush Fire is a concentrated blast of heat and flame packed into a small square format, and unintentionally all too relevant to recent, tragic events in Santa Barbara.
One of the strongest pieces in the room is Mark Lozano's The Space Between, an enigmatic and impressively detailed realist painting of a shadowy interior, with ragged white curtains both framing the view and casting the otherwise mundane scene in dramatic terms. We're drawn into a realm of space and craftily flip-flopped definitions of subject and ground. Dreamtime visions lurk in the space between the details, made all the more mysterious by its compacted scale.
As before, the tacit mantra and message of this annual show is that, in art, scale can - and does - matter.
'SMALL IMAGES 2008'
When: through Dec. 12
Where: Atkinson Gallery,
Santa Barbara City College, 721 Cliff Dr.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Information: 965-0581, Ext. 3484, www.gallery.sbcc.edu