Arts Devo

Walkin’ the art talk

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Less talk, more art Arts DEVO is not a fan of artist statements at gallery shows, specifically those that involve long explanations of the concepts behind the art at hand (or, even worse, the artist's opinions on world issues).

I'm cool with a little personal bio, very few words on the work, and if it isn't obvious maybe an explanation of how the work was made. Beyond that, I'm happy to put my own brain to work, to make my own discoveries and insights. It's way more fun than having everything explained to me.

Thankfully, for the current art show at the 1078 Gallery, the only written words provided are the artist's name and title of the work in black letters on the wall: Judith Leinen: The inhabitants of Dooberville show how they build, and a hand-written note on a pedestal next to two pitchers: “Visitors, water the plants if you like.” There's no guide, no program. Just a curious art installation, with a low-hanging grid of what look to be grow lamps fashioned from black plastic nursery trays suspended over the gallery's cement floor. And on the ground, in the seams and crawling out of imagined cracks, is actual ground cover (moss? alfalfa sprouts? clover?) growing up from the floor inside the gallery. Actually, by the time I visited (five days after the Sept. 3 opening), most of the plant life had died and turned brown. Only the wider patches receiving extended exposure from the skylights (and water from the patrons?) were still alive.

So, what's it mean? What was the artist's intention? My take: Given the “doob” in the title, those grow lights and the quickly drying growth below, I'm guessing Dooberville is somewhere in Nor Cal, where weed is king and the drought is threatening everything. Maybe I'm off, but I still enjoyed visiting the part of my brain that likes to get lost in art.

I'm sure Leinen, a Chico State visiting artist from Mainz, Germany, did a little artspeaking at the reception last week, and though I know I would've enjoyed discussing the installation with others, I'm glad I was able to have my own experience first. Have one yourself before the show closes Sept. 26.

And in the garden Speaking of art and growing, this Saturday, Sept. 12, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Magnolia Gift & Garden is hosting its second annual Great Garden Art Show. Local artists making outdoor-ready works in metal, ceramics, wood and glass will be displaying and selling their designs on the nursery's beautiful grounds. Put some art in your yard!