Alameda artists open their doors

June 10th, 2010

This article originally appeared on June 10, 2010 in The Island. Michele Ellson, editor.

Eighteen artists on the Big Island of Alameda participated in the first weekend of Pro ArtsEast Bay Open Studios on June 5-6. As if the lure of great local art was not enough, 15 artists, members of the Alameda Art Association, are participating in an art giveaway: Pick up a form from any of them and get it stamped at each of ten locations, and you could win a work of art.

Several artists participating in the raffle are sharing a common venue, giving visitors more bang for their buck. Painters Paul Glaviano, Erik Niemann, and Peggy Cotton, glass and jewelry artist Roberta Miller, and photographer Larry Williams are exhibiting at ArtWorks Studio, located at 2202N Alameda Towne Centre. With paintings up to approximately 5 feet by 8 feet, Paul Glaviano’s paintings have a particularly striking and imposing presence. And with titles like “Blood on our Hands,” “Nuclear Dawn” and “Tsunami,” their content is both emotionally and politically charged.

“Black Dog” by Paul Glaviano

Another shared venue is 1701 Monarch Street, on Alameda Point. When you think you’ve gone too far, go a little farther, past Hangar One and Rock Wall Wine Company, until you see “Abigail” (2009), Shawn HibmaCronan’s steel and hardware giraffe out front. Inside, Peter Dreyfuss and Tim Cisneros exhibit an impressive number of their rough hewn metal sculptures in their gallery, displayed elegantly on stone or gaunt white pillars.

“Ring” (2009) and “Conversation” (2009) by Peter Dreyfuss

HibmaCronan has only a few of his metal, mixed media and furniture pieces on hand, including “Carbon” (2009) constructed of charred redwood — the remains of a Berkeley house fire — and aluminum, back lit by LED, “as cool and crisp as possible” to darken the wood in contrast. He refers to this inventory as his “leftovers,” with the bulk of his work at Sculpture Court, an Oakland Art Museum annex located at 1111 Broadway in Oakland, through July 30.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of open studio visits, particularly over the course of several years, is a behind-the-scenes peek at an artist’s evolution. Dickson Schneider peruses fashion magazines and carries the models’ beauty to the illogical extreme in his oil paintings, to the point of rendering them absurd. Working at the intersection of fashion and art, he juxtaposes these models with Renaissance or Middle Age religious icons, or with houses that are on fire (touch wood: painting them is a “jinx thing,” he says) or underwater, an intentional pun on house prices. The result is so compelling that he receives commissions requesting the same transformation performed on “ordinary” people.

Dickson Schneider. Left: “The Ecstasy of Mondrian,” oil on canvas (2007); Right: “Ecstasy,” archival digital print (2009)

Recently Schneider began scanning, then digitally altering his paintings to create mixed-media collage prints. He will soon begin a residency at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, for “artists working in various printmaking techniques, photo-processes, book arts and digital media.” I am ambivalent about this direction simply because Schneider is, hands down, my favorite painter in Alameda, but I applaud his desire to evolve and explore his creativity. (767 Taylor Avenue)

“The Muse of Painting” by Deborah Griffin

Another evolving artist participating in EBOS is Deborah Griffin. She began as a photographer and has many of her black and white images on display, but made a name for herself with her digital collages which often incorporate both her own photographs and scanned vintage postcards. More recently, feeling disconnected from her pieces, she took them to the next level by physically adding elements such as handwritten quotations and ink stamps. (1525 Stanton Avenue)

Sometimes evolution means coming full circle and returning to your roots. For years Sunshine Urbaniak has exhibited her photographs in open studio. Mostly macro shots of plants, they are competent and attractive. But Urbaniak began as a painter and has returned to the medium with a more abstract focus. This is the first time she exhibited them in open studio, and they’re even better than her photos. A graphic designer by trade, she is struggling with a compulsion for linearity and order, but hopefully as she gains confidence her best work will emerge. (1629 Wood Street)

“Untitled” (2009) by Sunshine Urbaniak, acrylic and molding paste

“Ernie’s Love,” acrylic on canvas, by Gabriele Bungardt

It is always refreshing to see a variation on a familiar theme. Many entrepreneurs will take a photo of your pet, apply a digital “painting” filter and print it on canvas. Voilà! A “painting” of your pet! Gabriele Bungardt is not one of them. Her hand-painted acrylics are larger than life, fanciful, and capture the soul we know our pets possess. She also takes a unique angle, such as her series of paintings from the perspective of toys. Note: Next weekend she will be open on Sunday, June 13 only. (2032A Clinton Avenue)

“Sheeba’s Queen & Black Widow Spider” by Marjorie Wagner

Another twist is Marjorie Wagner’s “Iris Evolved, Creatures Devolved” series of eight artist prints, which took two years to complete and are being exhibited for the first time. In each painting a different iris is set against an idyllic landscape painted from her memories of Utah. The artist is aware that irises have been painted many, many times, and she wanted to give it “bite.” So she added a black widow. Each painting includes an iris that tracks the hybridization of the flower since 1900, along with an animal that has fared less well, such as the Rainbow Trout, afflicted with whirling disease, and the Golden Eagle, threatened by diminishing habitats. (2900 Main Street, Building 140, near Rosenblum Cellars)

There is no substitute for visiting the artist in their studio, and it’s more than seeing their art. Larry Wilson has over 200 of his watercolor paintings on display at 1166 Park Avenue, Studio C, but it’s his snacks that kept Ralph Appezzato coming back year after year. So stop by for a bite to eat and ask about the painting that got away from him. Not only can Larry paint, but he can spin a yarn, and stamp your form. Good luck in the raffle!

EBOS concludes this weekend, June 12-13.

Michael Singman-Aste
Postdiluvian Photo

Leave a Reply