Chaos or Order

January 30th, 2012

Susan Parish’s sentry watches over the treasures within Autobody Fine Art’s gallery. Like the guards at Buckingham Palace there is no chance of getting a smile out of him. He is constructed of wood, part of her solo exhibit “Chaos or Order.” But at six feet tall, spiked hair parted like Kokopelli, “The Sentry” is nonetheless quite imposing.

Parish, who resides in the artsy Jingletown neighborhood of Oakland, assembles her abstract wooden sculptures from “this and that I have laying around.” In “My Best Friend in Grade School,” clothespins are affixed to twin pieces of wood, like pigtails, and “The Dancer” is comprised of barrel staves.

Along with her sculptures, Parish exhibits her two-dimensional work, resembling a collection of airbrushed paintings, woodblock prints, and graphite sketches. In fact, they are all “digital drawings” created entirely using Photoshop. Monochromatic and sparse or packed with opaque blocks of color, they are abstract, but reminiscent of Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” to 80s New Wave album art.

A trio of drawings

She is often told that her drawings reflect her sculptures, but insists this is not something she sets out to do. “I just sit down and go, hmmm…. what color do I want today, and what brush shall I use? Or do I want to do lines? And I’ll just pick one, and I’ll start with something. And the end product won’t necessarily look like that because I don’t have a destination in mind other than to make whatever I’m doing look good to me.”

Parish prints her drawings herself on 13″x19″ paper, and they are taped together somewhat conspicuously. She admits that she is not good with “fussy little details”—gesturing to a particularly boisterous drawing, she declares “I’m more explosive”—but would be the first to agree that this presentation is less than ideal. “I would love to be printing big,” she said. She is hoping for a residency at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, which provides access to state-of-the-art printers.

Parish said that it was a lot of work putting “Chaos or Order” together but, rather than resting on her laurels, “I’m already starting to work on some other stuff,” she said. “Because I’m happy working.”

The show runs through March 11. Autobody Fine Art is located at 1517 Park Street in Alameda. They are open Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 6 p.m., and by appointment. Their phone number is (510) 881-6974.

Michael Singman-Aste
Postdiluvian Photo

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