Art is the reward

1078 hits jackpot with randomly curated group show

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Now showing:
2(D) for the Entire Gallery Show on display through July 27. Reception: Friday, July 12, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

1078 Gallery
820 Broadway

Risk taking is something we expect from artists. The willingness to try something new—and potentially fail miserably in the process—is a trait that, when combined with talent, can lead to something new and wonderful being brought into the world.

For the current group show at the 1078 Gallery—2(D) for the Entire Gallery Show—it isn’t just some of the artists who have taken chances; the exhibit itself is the result of the gallery taking one big chance. The eight featured artists were randomly chosen from a pool of 60 whose age and experience ranged from amateurs who had never shown their work to experienced professionals with résumés full of previous exhibitions.

Last August, for the 1078’s 2(D) for the Show 2(2012) for 2(Dollars), anyone who ponied up two dollars and produced a piece of art on the blank face of the show’s announcement card would be a part of that exhibit and be placed in a drawing for a chance to be one of the featured artists in this year’s group show. Ten were selected, eight made it to the exhibit.

And given the range of backgrounds and styles, the exhibition is surprisingly cohesive and engaging. At first viewing, one would be hard-pressed to imagine that it wasn’t actually a curated show. Other than an overall refreshing variety of approaches, there isn’t really a theme at work. But all of it is ready for showing.

Of the eight artists, four have direct connections to the gallery (Exhibitions Co-Chair Maia Illa, volunteer Sophie Rogers-Davidson, Vice President Maria Navarro, and Navarro’s daughter, Natasha Easton) and two are high-school students (Rogers-Davidson and Katharine Sherman). The last three are all working artists: Chikoko fashion collective member Nel Adams; spiritual counselor/healing-artist Sheryl Karas; and former Chicoan (and current Brooklynite) Brad Thiele.

Thiele’s typically fun pieces are the most immediately engaging, each a little game or puzzle demanding close attention. “Black Belt” appears as its title suggests when the tiny graphite line on white paper is looked at from a distance, but upon walking closer the simple message “i must warn you – i know karaoke” comes into focus.

By virtue of its size and its placement on the back wall in line with the front door, Adams’ As Above, Below is the de facto focal point of the exhibit. The mixed-media assemblage features four sculptures mounted on squares of linoleum. Drawing on her textiles experience, the fashion designer formed three just-blooming flower sculptures out of padded-bra cups—one black, one red, one pink (titled “Shadows,” “Between” and “Illumination,” respectively)—with the final piece (“Divine”) being a mounted set of cloth horns with a lacy horseshoe draped over the top. There are two oval picture frames mounted like eyes in the center of it all, and with the horns sticking out of the top and the red flower blooming at the bottom like a mouth, the whole collection resembles a big Mr. Potato Head face on the white wall.

The show has been arranged with the artists mixed together around the gallery, and there are a lot of fun surprises to be found as you circle the space. Navarro’s abstract watercolors are fresh and wonderful, with each grouping offering a different play on forms and a nice palette of bright colors.

Some of my favorites, though, were a few of the pieces by the teenagers. Rogers-Davidson’s “Four Slats of Peter” is an homage to her brother, with sections of his mug drawn and painted in four different ways on four different slats and stacked into one very striking face. I was very impressed with a few of the varied pieces by Sherman. Her painted ceramic “Peacock Cow” (it’s a cow and a peacock!) is just gorgeous. And the arrangement of similarly gray/purple-hued paintings that included an acrylic portrait of a mysterious-looking young black woman (“Beneatha”), and two small watercolors—one simple yet unmistakable portrait of local painter Sal Casa (“Sal”) and my favorite piece in the show, the expressive image of a pregnant woman in a belly-hugging dress (“Full Water”)—is outstanding.

It might have been a risk, but the show definitely paid off.