A peek at a couple of ‘must-sees’ at the 2007 Open Studios Tour
It’s well worth the trek to the storage space off Highway 32 known as “The 46” to see the work of Dylan Tellesen, Janice Porter and Erin Wade, who share the industrial-vibe studio-with-loft. Porter is the new kid on the block at The 46, having just moved into her new artist digs two days before Chico Art Center’s 18th annual Open Studios Tour began.
Nearly 100 artists are opening their studios for this year’s annual event, which also includes a weekend highlighting artists in Oroville.
During the first weekend of the tour, I spent much of my time at two stops for this year’s tour. They are must-sees, partly because you get so much bang for your buck, with three artists at each. But more important is that what you get to see is so interesting. Tellesen—a humble and quirky local art superhero, known for his spectacular, insightful drawings and paintings of people, animals and vehicles—offers up a fun array of his now-signature super-glossy paintings on old book covers.
One of the highlights is an opened-out bookcover with the title Electricity Magnetism printed on its spine. It’s adorned with a painting of a sexy topless woman. Tellesen’s touch, with this woman and in all of his people portraits, reveals a depth of character and emotion in the subject that he is so uniquely good at capturing.
Porter’s work is a mind-tickling mixture of drawings, carved art pieces depicting rugged tires (among other things) made from recycled cardboard and illustrated children’s books. A particularly absorbing grouping of her drawings is done in pastels, graphite and colored pencil, and features a vagina-like peach lying seductively in graphite grass, and a whole passel of peach-like objects that also ambiguously remind one of molecules or frogs’ eggs gathered into a window frame or crate.
Like Tellesen and Porter, Wade also likes to use recycled materials in her work. Her endearing wall sculptures “Cone Klatch” and “Column Clan” are made from recycled blue plastic water bottles. Another piece makes use of window screening and pieces of a swamp cooler pad ("basically just using garbage from my house,” says Wade).
Wade’s drawings of little tadpole- and amoeba-like beings are precious. One, in orange and yellow, depicts little interlocking creatures that resemble both tiny aprons and objects one might see under a microscope.
The downtown studio of digital artist Daniel Donnelly (director of Butte College’s Graphic Design and Multimedia program) includes his own pieces, as well as work from glass artist Tom McQuaid and black-and-white photographer Geoff Fricker.
McQuaid, a recent escapee from Santa Barbara, creates beautiful, imaginative kiln-formed glass wall hangings. One particularly lovely piece depicts an abstracted idea of bamboo alongside actual bamboo leaves set into glass and covered with glass powder, creating an interesting visual effect akin to feathers.
Donnelly’s newest work is his compelling Archangel series of digital collages, each of which is constructed with 25 to 50 layers of images collected from wherever his travels take him. One piece, whose main subject is a “really depressed” woman Donnelly saw sitting in a New York City Chinatown window to whom he digitally attached angel/duck wings, is particularly moving.
Fricker, who will soon retire from his 35 years of teaching photography at Butte College, presents a sizeable collection of large black-and-white photographs that are a curious and fascinating mixture of art and science. His photo of Butte Creek with abandoned plastic table and chairs in the foreground and pieces of cottonwood trees strewn in the water by the Army Corps of Engineers seems as equally concerned with being a piece of artwork as part of a politico-scientific chronicling of events having to do with land and resource use.
Other excellent artists: Well-known mosaic artist and Rebel Tile-maker Robin Indar, though she was only available the first weekend of the tour; world-class East-West painter Chunhong Chang, whose striking new Unity series is a slight departure from her earlier work, with its bolder colors and geometric gold leafing. Also check out jazzy painter Mabrie J. Ormes and funky acrylic darling Caitlin Schwerin.