Catch these five notable works of visual art in San Diego this month, from Claire A Warden, Aaron Glasson, Tijera Williams, Carlos Castro Arias and Chantal Peñalosa.
Aaron Glasson: ‘Blueprint For Dissolving A Devastating Myth Of Independence’
On view at Swish Projects through March 21
New Zealand-born, San Diego-based artist Aaron Glasson recently opened a solo show, “Honest Meditations” at Swish Projects, with works inspired by the idea that all things return to the earth. He used only natural materials, like wood, organic cotton, egg whites, charcoal, tea, and more. The exhibition, titled “Honest Meditations,” is partly a nod to the way Glasson is embracing an abstract style of painting that is hyper-aware of its process and materials.
“I feel like a lot of painting for me in the past was about hiding the fact that it was a painting. I actually come from a more realist painting background, so it was about painting almost photorealistic imagery, but these paintings are pretty rough and crude and you can see how they’re made,” Glasson said. “So that’s where the honesty kind of comes from.”
Along the back wall, “Blueprint for Dissolving a Devastating Myth of Independence” is the largest of the pieces. It’s noticeable from the sidewalk, even from across the street, but if you make an appointment to see the exhibition inside, you’ll be rewarded with what Glasson suggests is the “honesty.” Visible pencil lines denote his process and the pigmentation and brush strokes add texture and a reminder of the natural elements. Glasson said that he aimed for an equal balance of positive and negative space, and that each of the contact points of the shapes is a critical component of the work.
And don’t forget to look down: the floor is also fully painted with the abstract shapes.
Claire A. Warden: ‘No. 42 (Emphasis)’
From the SDSU Art Gallery virtual exhibition “Upon Closer Inspection,” on view through March 31
This entire virtual exhibition, “Upon Closer Inspection,” which also features the work of Phung Huynh and Adama Delphine Fawundu, really digs into stories and trauma of heritage and migration. It’s a beautiful and wildly varied collection. And it’s worth pointing out that the virtual platform for this exhibition is incredible.
Photographer Claire A. Warden uses mark-making processes in “Mimesis,” this ongoing series of piezograph photography. This includes such practices as applying saliva to the film, and it makes her work abstract and complicated. Each piece suggests an object from afar and something else entirely from up close, maybe as a way to reflect how Warden’s work is informed by questions like “What are you?” One of the larger works, “No. 42 (Emphasis),” evokes a figure, a face upturned towards the sky perhaps, but a closer look shows a tangle of strokes, shadows and brightness, and the implicating power of process — whether in creating the work or in viewing it.
Warden, who was recently on the inaugural Silver List of 47 contemporary photographers to watch (as with former San Diegan Alanna Airitam), creates stunning monochromatic images that seem otherworldly.
Tijera Williams: ‘Black Woman With Hoop Earrings’
On view at The Hill Street Country Club through April 10
Tijera Williams’ solo show at The Hill Street Country Club, “Exodus from Iniquity,” features a series of glossy, intimate photographs. Williams’ work reimagines historic paintings and traditional biases of family and marriage using Black bodies, modern stories of love and escalating obsession, and an unsettling use of multiple exposure-style processing and collage. Plus, Williams wrote poetry for many of the pieces, and a QR code scanned at the entrance to the gallery allows you to read each poem as you stand in front of the associated work. Pandemic upside: if you’re unable to visit the gallery, you can still browse the works and the poetry online from home. The page for each piece also attributes the historical nods in each.
Her work “Black Woman With Hoop Earrings,” (historical reference: Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring”) is striking, and the entire north wall of the large gallery room is dedicated to its relatively moderate size.
From William’s poem:
“As I look back, I look forward.
—No longer am I afraid to Show
my stretch marks, to show my
weight gain, to hide from the
embarrassment. I embrace bad
Love. I embrace my bad
The work is powerful and evocative, demanding that a viewer think about what is omitted from art and narratives, how racism, representation and skewed standards of beauty have impacted art, and what was left unsaid — in the 1600s and today.
More from the poem:
“Why am I to blame for the crimes
filed against me ?
How am I to blame, for you?”
Carlos Castro Arias: ‘The Witness’
On view at Bread and Salt through April 30
Carlos Castro Arias’ new exhibition, “Remorses and Other Maladies” fills three rooms at Bread and Salt with three distinct series — Remorses, Dark Splendor and Mythstories.
In the “Dark Splendor” series, one particularly eye-catching work is the life-size human form sculpture, “The Witness.” It features a figure hunched over a phone, head on fire (actual fire). Castro used propane, aluminum, resin, wood and a functioning smartphone with footage of a church fire.
The series is the result of Castro’s study of churches in Texas — home to two of the largest megachurches in the world.
“So the person is looking at the phone, but what they have in the phone is an image of a church burning. A church that was attacked, a church in Texas,” Castro said of the work. “This was right before the pandemic so it’s interesting how we get all this news and information from the phone, but you feel kind of like impotent on your phone just seeing all these things and experiencing the world through a screen.”
After a year with such limited in-person art, this piece is shockingly visceral and sensory. You can feel the heat as you stand near it. There’s an empty seat next to the figure, identical to theirs, that viewers can sit on and get a closer look. The work feels both very immediate and rooted in this moment, but also undeniably drawing on the remarkable timelessness of religion.
Details: Exhibition information. Viewable by appointment at Bread and Salt, 1955 Julian Ave.
Chantal Peñalosa: ‘Sobre La Avenida México’
On view at Best Practice from March 13 through April 17
Tecate-based multidisciplinary artist Chantal Peñalosa will open a new solo show at Best Practice in Barrio Logan mid-month. The exhibition, “There’s Something About the Weather of This Place,” is focused on perspectives and angles of the US/Mexico border, and uses photography, painting and video works. Peñalosa’s pieces include canvases coated with fresh white paint and set outside to collect falling ash from wildfires, photography diptychs that follow the changes in cloud formations in the duration of a border crossing, even a scent diffused in the gallery to evoke the border region (virtual exhibitions can’t do that!).
Her fascinating video work, “Sobre la Avenida México” is a performance piece where the artist sat on a rooftop on a street in Tecate, the last street before the border, at eye level with a border patrol vehicle. The piece runs approximately five minutes and studies place, surveillance, power and defiance as Peñalosa narrates what she sees.
Peñalosa also has work in “Domestic Geographies,” the 14th annual Día de la Mujer exhibition at The Front in San Ysidro, which runs March 6 through May 7.
Details: Exhibition information. Viewable by appointment, or on Fridays from 1-3 p.m., beginning March 13. 2284 Kearney Ave., Barrio Logan.
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