Thursday, December 23, 2021

PHES Gallery Impermanence; Sparkling like a Star in our hand and Melting like a Snowflake

 by Patricia Frischer

Michelle Kurtis Cole.

PHES Gallery presents Impermanence a group exhibition with Wendy Maruyama, Kathi McCord, Michelle Kurtis Cole, and Andres Amador reflecting life's transitory nature. But this is not a sad grouping of doom and gloom but a hopeful one because of the beauty reflected in each of the works.

I am most familiar with the work of Michelle Kurtis Cole. Her dedication to bringing attention to climate change and how it affects the ocean and our environment is a long time theme of her work. We were lucky enough to show a whole selection of her work in the DNA of Creativity exhibition at Oceanside Museum of Art as part of the Sea Change: ACT project. A set of 7 of her dying corals from that show are newly presented here. When corals die they are bleached of all color and appear underwater as ghost of their former selves. 

Michelle Kurtis Cole and Andres Amador.

Kurtis Cole hand sculpts interpretations of the precious undersea beings from red wax. Molds are then made from the waxes as the process is so tricky, that more than one model is needed. Then they are spurred and invested in plaster. The next step of the loss wax process is to melt the wax out of the investment. Then glass frit fills the hollow, the work is adjusted so that parts get more heat than other and the long process of firing begins. Slow heating and cooling assures the safety of the art, and then the lengthy process of finishing these glass gems begins, grinding off spurs, polishing, creating and setting stands to display them. 

There are two new works made especially for this show and if you look closely you can see the glass disintegrating. They are lit from within as if they have souls yet to be released. 

Michelle Kurtis Cole

Michelle Kurtis Cole

Michelle Kurtis Cole (detail)

The delicacy of a pencil line creates the impermanence in the drawings of Kathi McCord Endangered flora and fauna of the rain forest fill two walls. Everyone knows how to erase a graphite line and everyone is invited to do so in room two of her display. It is an emotional experience as demonstrated by the box of tissues available for tears. I could not bring myself to erase a monkey, but someone did and I am sure ended with wet cheeks.

Kathi McCord

Kathi McCord (before erased)

Kathi McCord (after erased)

Kathi McCord - erasers and tissue

Wendy Maruyama makes the most incredible furniture which is solid and long lasting, so seeing her soft and flowing hanging of identity tags from Japanese Americans interred in camps during World War II reminds us of these citizens uprooted from their homes and businesses.  Having your foundation whipped out from underneath you has happened to all of us at some time, but seeing this almost Christmas tree like form in the center of the gallery, almost make it feel like a celebration of resilience, bravery and the determination to survive.  

Wendy Maruyama (detail)

Making a sand castle and then watching the waves wash it away is one of the joys of childhood. Andres Amador takes this experience to a whole new level. It is impossible to imagine how these perfectly formed geometric shapes can be created. The photographs are stunning and it does help to see a video to really experience the dissolution as a complete part of the process. The sand is reborn to be its natural self or a fresh canvas. Amador not only works with sand and water but also clay and water as he uses native American basket pattern on rock formation that are then water blasted away. 

Andres Amador sand and sea

Andres Amador

Andres Amador clay on rock

Ellen Speert, curator of this show and the ES of PHES with husband Paul Henry recalls the words of philosopher Francis Bacon, "We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake."

Impermanence at  PHES Gallery
2633 State Street, Carlsbad Village, 92008   
Open Thurs - Sat 2 – 7 until Feb 13, 2022.
More info: Ellen 760-696-3022

No comments:

Post a Comment