Sunday, September 15, 2013

Poke: Debby and Larry Kline by Cathy Breslaw and POKE 2 by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt

Poke: a series of provocations by Debby and Larry Kline (SD Art Prize, 2013) opens on Thurs. Sept 5, 5 -7 pm. with an artists lecture beginning at  7 pm. Showing until Sept 26 at Mesa College Art Gallery (7250 Mesa College Dr., D101, SD) More info: Alessandra Moctezuma

Report by Cathy Breslaw

When we walk into an exhibition space we don’t expect to see a store with items for sale. Debby and Larry Kline want to mess with us by taking things out of context.  They present us with beautifully crafted objects – shiny, cute, funny, odd, kinetic, and nostalgic. Just when they reel us in with lightness and humor, we are hit with the question “Wait a minute, what is all this and what does it mean?” At the Mesa College exhibition space they have packed in a lot of punches – from a motorized carousel and ferris wheel made with pharmaceuticals, to a large installation called “The Age of Enlightenment”’ consisting of several large white Greek-style columns with relief vignettes of historically significant religious imagery. Included are colorful glossy ceramic containers made partially from ground down pharmaceuticals displayed on the wall, an installation called “The Candy Store” which includes items that poke fun at medications and the healthcare industry and small teddy bears crafted from real tobacco reminding us that cigarettes, regardless of the health risks are marketed to children.  There is also a video and series of photographs related to the Klines ongoing project of documenting their restaurant visits with creating small table sized sculptural works entirely made from items from their meal. Immediate and performative in content, the series of short clip videos are entertaining and engaging to any audience. The Klines who are married and long time collaborators, off us a provocative mix of topical works posing questions we can ponder.

Cathy Breslaw is a southern California visual artist, writer and lecturer who has had over 25 solo exhibitions, and 50 group exhibitions across the country at museums, art centers, college and university galleries and commercial galleries. Her work can be found in many private and corporate collections. Her work and writing can be seen at:

Mesa College Gallery show takes poke at convention  By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt

Gallery director Alessandra Moctezuma with Smokin' Columbia.

First published in the La Jolla Light

Debby and Larry Kline are a husband-and-wife team of artist-provocateurs who try to make pieces that turn people’s heads.
“We pose provocative questions, challenge preconceptions and generally screw with context to make a point,” they say in their artists’ statement.

At the Sept. 5 opening, artists Debby and Larry Kline pose with poet David Antin. Photos Maurice Hewitt

Their latest exhibit, “POKE,” at Mesa College Gallery, is well worth the drive from La Jolla. A selection of pieces from three different series, it takes jabs at religious imagery, the persistence of war, and our over-medicated society, and explores the unlimited possibilities of creating art out of restaurant-table rubble.
On view is “The Age of Enlightenment,” a temple of 8-foot tall columns, each representing a different belief system, all ornamented with figures from commercial molds that have been cleverly re-purposed by the Klines.
Then there’s “The Candy Store,” which includes a pharmaceutical Ferris wheel and a wall of canopic vessels, not filled with body parts preserved for an ancient Egyptian afterlife, but topped with glazes containing some of the ground-up prescription medications that we contemporary pill-poppers, encouraged by willing doctors, consume like candy.

Deborah and Larry Poteet at the show.

Last but not least is a smorgasbord of photos from their restaurant tabletop art series “My Dinner with the Klines,” some of which were shown at the La Jolla Athenaeum last fall.
Winners of the 2013 San Diego Art Prize, and soon-to-be-featured artists at this year’s Art Fair, the Klines have had exhibitions and commissions around the world. Their work is definitely mixed media, including photography, clay, cement, tobacco, wood, wire, plaster, and ketchup.
Their style is surreal, and their sense of humor is both intelligent and open hearted, a rare combination in the art world and beyond. For a good time, let yourself get “POKED” at Mesa’s Gallery: You may well go out more enlightened than you came in.

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