Art walkin’

If fall gives you sunshine, grab a coffee and take an art stroll

At University Art Gallery: “Marble Rounds” and “Paint Pour Blocks” by Leah Rosenberg.

At University Art Gallery: “Marble Rounds” and “Paint Pour Blocks” by Leah Rosenberg.

Photo by Jason Cassidy

The “J-Gold” is a work of art, and I’m addicted to it. It’s a straightforward coffee drink—just espresso, hot water and a little coconut oil—and a stop for one at the Naked Lounge (it’s named in honor of the friendliest tattooist in town, Jeremy Golden) is part of my daily routine. The oil’s presence enhances the mouthfeel more than anything else, and the key to the velvety texture is the cafe’s finishing technique of emulsifying the mixture in a blender. Simple, sublime, and a perfect complement to a casual art stroll through downtown and university art spaces—beginning with the Naked Lounge itself.

The current untitled show is a collaboration between Kayce Tynan, a barista at the cafe, and collage artist/sculptor Zak Elstein. The latter has been busy over the past year constructing his trippy shadowboxes loaded with animal skeletons for a couple of prior solo exhibits. For the new one, he works in drawings by Tynan, whose dark, detailed pieces are a natural fit behind the glass and under moody lights.

“Trust,” by Sterling Wolfe, at Provisions Gallery.

Photo by Jason Cassidy

While there are more ornate/grand examples in the show (such as “Twins,” featuring a drawing of conjoined ram heads with a sword plunged through the middle and a lace border), my favorite was the body-part series: “Rat Heart,” “Rat Brain” and just plain “Uterus.” The pieces don’t depict rat body parts, but rather rats interacting with human-looking body parts—gnawing on a giant heart or brain, sleeping inside a uterus. Creepy and cool. Reception happens Thursday (Nov. 21), 6:30 p.m.

Tucked in the way back of Upper Park Clothing’s downtown boutique is the cozy Provisions Gallery, Chico’s newest art space. The handsome white-wall gallery debuted last spring with the goal of showcasing paintings and illustrations and helping the artists sell their work via art prints. Exhibits change each quarter, and the newest is a collection of wildlife watercolors by local artist Sterling Wolfe (real name Vanessa Wolfe). The animal images are matched with one-word qualities for titles—“Vigilant” (rabbit), “Loneliness” (wolf), “Courage” (lion) and my favorite, the shadowy “Trust” with a coyote emerging from the blackness.

At Chico State, the small gallery “between the stairs and the office” in Ayres Hall, aka B-So Space, is where student works are presented throughout the school year. Sometimes it’s group shows, more often it’s week-long exhibits for bachelor of fine arts students. Last week, it was the culminating BFA show for Benjamin Echeverria and the sign on the open door read: “Caution Broken Glass.” The floor inside was indeed covered in it as part of two smashed installation pieces featuring mysterious scenes with impressive piles of colorful shards of glass and ceramics—one with a table covered in empty pill bottles and another with the artist’s tools among the rubble. Next up at B-So: culminating exhibit by ceramicist Shai Porath, now showing through Friday (Nov. 22).

The most immediately engaging show of my art walk was at the Jacki Headley University Art Gallery in the Arts & Humanities Building. The colorful five-artist exhibit includes a handful of intriguing large-scale works—mostly abstract studies of form and color—the most impressive of which was the wall-filling “Marble Rounds” by Leah Rosenberg. It’s a 4-by-10 grid of 40 solid-colored squares, with a circle mounted to each and painted with marbled patterns of the premixed colors of its background square. On the floor in front of the installation is an audience of complementary pedestals called “Paint Pour Blocks.” Fun! (The exhibit’s title is To Freeze the Shifting Phantasmagoria, and to my mind, it and the accompanying artist’s statement take the long way to say “To make art.”)

Those were just some of the highlights of the afternoon. I also looked in on 3rd Story: Prints With Prose at The Turner Museum (featuring print-inspired fiction pieces by university creative-writing students accompanying the artworks), as well as the nature/wildlife watercolors of Carol Preble-Miles at the Upper Crust Bakery & Cafe, my last stop, perfectly timed for a post-coffee sweet treat—which took all my willpower to resist.