If a Tree Falls in the Forest & No One is Around…

Dixie Salazar Landscape Image
A landscape by Dixie Salazar.

Last Saturday night, July 8th, local gallery, Gallery 5, hosted an artist’s reception for master painter, poet, novelist and activist, Dixie Salazar, as introduction to her stunning one woman show there this month. The show is a milestone event, one, gallery curator, Jon Bock, has been attempting to procure for many years. Ms. Salazar embodies a major presence in the Central California art scene and securing a retrospective exhibit of her work for our small town, up here in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is quite a coup for the local creative community.

Dixie Reading Photo
Poetry read during artists reception © 2017 Jonathan Bock

Which is why I was puzzled by the poor turnout last Saturday night. In addition to gallery personnel, the guests were myself and my wife, two personal friends of Dixie and two other local residents. What gives? The show was well publicized. In addition to all the online marketing Gallery 5 did, on behalf of the reception, I know I personally, spread the word to local artists I ran into at art organization gatherings, in the final days leading up to the opening. There was live music, barbecue, drink and personal readings by Dixie of some of her exceptional contemporary poetry.

Was it the heat? The voluntary $5 donation to cover the cost of the barbecue? Dixie’s work suggests story, like Chagall, contains the color harmonies of Matisse, the liveliness present in the works of VanGogh and Gauguin, all uniquely synthesized through her personal brush. Did they not like her work?

Whatever the reason, while it’s too late to meet and pick the brain of this petite giant, too late to hear her read her poetry, the show will still be there until July 30th. I’ve seen it twice already and plan to return multiple times, before it’s gone. I urge anyone in the area with even a fleeting interest in art to not miss this museum quality show!


Brothers & Sisters in Art

CalArts - Chouinard Logo

Last weekend I made the trip down from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where I currently live, to Los Angeles, where I was born and raised, for the CalArts/Chouinard Art Institute alumni reunion. I don’t often make it to these get-togethers, but they were giving special awards to my good friend, artist, Dennis Lewis, and posthumously to my illustration lab professor, Harold Kramer, so it was a must attend.

Only 4 of my actual classmates were there, the group ranged from geriatrics to students currently attending CalArts. I was sitting next to an architect, a graduate from a class many years before my own. I unexpectedly ran into, Tony, the son of artist (a Chouinard graduate) whom I’d worked with for 12 years, when I was directing animation for Kurtz & Friends. Tony and my own son used to hang out together at all the Kurtz & Friends events that included family, which were most of them.

The reunion presentations were fine, my friend, Dennis’, acceptance speech being the highlight of the program. Dennis is a great natural storyteller and can’t help but crack the room up with his cast of a thousand in character portrayals of student interactions, from his many years of teaching and his rendition of how he met his beautiful wife. But there was a rich reward, above the joy of watching my close friend of 50 years receive the recognition he deserved and that was introductions to and conversations with the alumni, most of whom I’d never met before.

Art knowledge is timeless, so when you converse with an artist that’s 90 years old or one that’s 19 years old, you share common interests and speak a common language. Age or generational differences melt away as you discuss Richard Diebenkorn and the influence Matisse had on his work (a current exhibit at SFMOMA) or the Calder retrospective at LACMA last year or the student from this class or that who’s recently gained international recognition. In the company of artists you share like interests far beyond those bound to generation and become part of a living, breathing organism with a focused passion for art.

Pick up a paintbrush, chisel or other creative tool and you’re rubbing shoulders with Leonardo, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso, Hockney and all artists past and present. Welcome to the fraternity of artists, take full advantage of your membership!

An Art Conversation on the Radio

As promotion for my upcoming solo exhibit, A Pair of Trowzers, Gallery 5 owner and print maker, Jon Bock and I traveled down into the San Joaquin Valley for an interview at KFCF 88.1 FM radio. The Sierra foothills are gorgeous this time of year, green grasses more reminiscent of Ireland than California. Our heavily snow-capped Sierras dominated the northern horizon. It was a perfect day to travel.

KFCF’s Free Speech Radio home is a modest converted 50’s residential residence just off the Tower District’s main drag, in Fresno, CA. Stepping through the front door, I suspected this would be an atypical Fresno experience. Warm greetings from the local radio personalities set us at ease. Jon is an old friend of the establishment, but this was my first visit.

Early at KCFC PhotoWe were a bit early and the host of our segment on Art Attack, Janet Alexander Flores, had not yet arrived. A little time to chill with a cool bottle of water.

Janet arrived, introductions, a quick catch up on personal events with Jon (Jon and Janet have become old friends), sound checks and we were off. The half hour was less interview and more a 3-way conversation on art between friends, as we reviewed our backgrounds for the listening audience, then touched on my upcoming show, the opening of Jon’s new Gallery 5, Yosemite Renaissance, Sierra Art Trails open studio weekend, Yosemite Western Artist’s upcoming Tri-County show and concerns about likely changes to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and how that would effect arts funding.

Headsets and microphones aside, the conversation continued, off-air, for another hour.

I’ve stumbled on an oasis of like-minded intelligent souls in an increasingly intolerant world. Thank you KFCF for a very pleasant, reaffirming afternoon.

Have You Discovered Art21?

Art21 is the PBS broadcasted series on fine art in the 21st Century, now in its 8th season. Each week it deals with a sampling from current fine artists in a different world city. Last week it was Mexico City, next week will be Los Angeles, 2 weeks ago it was Chicago, etc., etc.

Don’t ask me why it’s taken me so long to notice it (actually I have a vague recollection of coming across it several years ago, but it somehow got pushed out of my tv watching queue). Anyway, I’m back and aware now.

It’s a great insight as to why the artists are doing what they do, in their own words, right out of their own mouths. Fascinating!

Learn more at: http://www.pbs.org/program/art21/