The Phantom Project Creates A Huge Ephemeral Art Exhibit in Paso Robles, May, 2012
A Walk Through the Phantom 2 Art Exhibit in Paso Robles, 2012
The Phantom Strikes in Paso Robles, CA
New art exhibits in a city are always exciting, but I have have never seen the level of excitement about an art show in my city of Paso Robles to equal that generated by the opening of its first phantom art gallery. What exactly is a Phantom Art Gallery? It's an art gallery that's here today and gone within a given time period, such as a month. Owners of vacant properties normally donate the building for a month to the phantom show. It enhances the property while the show is there, builds enthusiasm in the community for the arts, and sometimes helps the owner of the property find a new permanent tenant.
It's been a a little over a week now since I attended the opening reception at the Phantom Gallery "The View from Here," in Paso Robles, on May 5, 2012. As I write this, the show is still going on in the old A&R Furniture building on the corner of 12th and Pine, across from City Park.. This is what the New Times has to say about this second Phantom Show .
In the video above, I have attempted to give you the flavor of this historic art event in Paso Robles -- the second Phantom Gallery in San Luis Obispo County. You will see the activity at the opening reception on May 5, see some of the art, and watch excitement build as the winners of the two juried shows (more about that later) are announced by Rachel Eckert. You will also meet Michael Reddell, the main organizer of this event.
Michael wrote this blog a month before the event, and it will help you understand some of what was involved in putting this together. He explains that this is really three shows in one. Two jurors each made selections for a juried show and selected the winners of their own shows. Because there was so much space available, even the works not juried into shows were hung to be enjoyed by art lovers. As Michael said, the judging of art is subjective by its nature. There may be pieces juried in you would not have chosen, and some of those not chosen might be the ones you would have given a ribbon to. So, as you watch the video, I hope you'll be considering what you might have chosen. I will give you a closer look later at some works that grabbed my attention, many of which were not juried in, as well as all the ribbon winners I could locate that night. So, if you have not finished watching the video yet, please do that. Then read on for a better look at the art.
A Favorite Work from The First Phantom Project
A Bit of San Luis Obispo County Art History
The First Phantom Gallery in San Luis Obispo County opened on February 2, 2012 at 672 Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo. It was an amazing show. I received an invitation through Facebook, since I know many of the local artists and they are Facebook friends. The day of the opening, I was already in town on other errands, but did not want to make the trip back across the grade the next night by myself for the opening reception, after dark. Although I was sorry to miss meeting a lot of the artists from the South County whose work I'd not seen before, I just didn't want to walk blocks alone at night after dark in a city not my own. You can read my impressions of the event and see some of the photos I took there at http://slo-north.info/tidbits-from-templeton/2012/02/03/first-phantom-project/ I have shown one of my favorite works from this exhibit above.
You can read what one of the jurors for this exhibit wrote about the artists whose works weren't accepted, in this New Times article: http://www.newtimesslo.com/art/7336/a-really-big-shoe/. It was something I'd never considered. We writers get to deal with rejection in solitude, but for artists it is often a public experience.
Some of the Winners at the Second Phantom Project
The Winners at Phantom II in Paso Robles
By the time the winners were announced midway through the show, it was very crowded and getting dark, and I couldn't locate all the winning works to get photographs of them. I hope to get back before the show is over to complete what I have here.
It was very difficult to get photos which clearly represent the actual works because of the nature of the exhibit. Light seemed to reflect from anything with a shiny or glossy surface. People were everywhere and it was hard to avoid getting people parts in pictures of sculpture and mixed media that were displayed on pedestals in the open spaces. It was also difficult to get all sides of these pieces. The only way to see them as they should be seen is to see them in person.
"Beauty Look Inside" was challenging to photograph because of its reflective surface. The many facets used the reflections to enhance the piece, but I also see the reflection of myself taking the picture. At whatever angle I took the picture, there was a myriad of reflections. The reflections actually add interest to this piece, since they constantly change. On the first visit I also missed the inside bottom. In the second picture, you can see what I finally saw that makes this piece so exquisite. To really fully appreciate this piece, you must be physically present.
The hardest pieces to photograph were the mixed media and sculptures made of mesh-like materials with holes or lots of open space. Because you could see through parts of them, capturing part of their surroundings was unavoidable, and that diluted the impact the piece had when it was looked at directly. The exhibit was being held in what used to be a furniture store, so a good portion of the exhibit had to be placed right in the old display windows. The cars parked outside and the reflections from the glass were distracting, but especually so in framed works under glass.
You can see what I mean in "Untitled," to the right. The subject blends into the background of the exhibits behind it. That's why, if you can, you should really see this in person. My report is only designed to help you see the scope of the show and the variety, so that you will be motivated to come in person if you live near Paso Robles. On my first visit to this sculpture, I did not notice the man. On the second visit I saw him because I had time to look more closely. Do you see him, hanging on with all his might?
The red ribbon winner, "The Collectors," by Mark Bryan, was a double win, since both jurors selected it for second place. The only honorable mention winner I found on my first visit was "The Dispute," created in bronze by Ann S. Bernhardt. I'm going to put it in the next section, along with other honorable mention piecies I found on my second visit.
The third place winners were Bruce Everett's, "End of Storm," and Barry Lundgren's, "Maple Burl Bubinga Bowl" They are pictured in the right-hand-column. I will put the honorable mention winners (the ones I could find) below. One of my personal favorite of these was "The Dispute" by Ann Bernhardt. Perhaps it's because of the subject matter, but it was very well done, and it conveyed the spirit of these birds. "The Dispute" is another piece of art you need to see in person, since the camera can't capture the details the human eye can see at once from the various angles .
The other two homorable mentions I found were Marilee Heyer's "Game of Ascension" and Michael Reddell's "Picket Fence." I am also showing the top of the "Picket Fence" close-up so you can see some of the details.
For the local paper's write-up of the winners, see this article on Phantom Project II by Lee Sutter in the Tribune. My video contains an interview with Paul Saueressig as to how he happened to create his "Electric Ray," and in the video you will see it in action as Paul talks to me. I'm glad to see that Lee also thought it looked more like a fish than a bomb.
"The Dispute" by Ann S. Bernhardt
Photos of some of my favorite juried works
Some of my favorite juried in works.
This exhibit was historic in Paso Robles not only because of its nature, but also because of its size. We have a number of small galleries in the North County, and in Paso Robles we also have Studios on the Park, which usually has at least two exhibits going on in addition to the eight studios which together house about 40 different artists. You can watch several of them working in their studios on any given day and get a chance to meet and talk with them. Many local artists also display their work in North County restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and other businesses. There simply is no one place big enough to house as many pieces of art as "The View from Here" was able to hang for this second Phantom Project show.
One reason I have pictured most of the art works in the context of where they were in the show is to give you an idea of how large this exhibit was. So you will see into other rooms while you are looking at some paintings on a wall. The many divisions in the space made it hard to remember just where you saw what. In the smaller space for the first Phantom Project show in San Luis Obispo, you could take a quick look at everything that was there in half an hour or less. That is impossible at the Paso Robles show where there are 465 pieces of art in various media to see. I hope the video gave you an idea of that, and the video still only captured part of the entire show.
I'm now going to share with you some of the pieces that were juried into the show that did not win ribbons. I think you will understand what a tough job the jurors had. You or I might have selected some of these as winners, or maybe some of those I didn't have time to photograph.
I have not put these in any particular order. I liked all of them. One that really stood out for me, and which was juried in by both jurors, was Gallery Room 1. You simply can't walk past it without wanting to walk into it to get a closer look at the pictures hanging on the wall. It was almost as large as a door, and it was easy to mistake it for a doorway.
"Bull Canyon" by Bruce Everett, who also won a third place prize for his "End of Storm" pictured above, was also picked by both jurors.
Greg Simmons is one of my favorite artists. He has a studio at Studios on the Park, so if you live locally, it's easy to go in and see the rest of his work. I actually was surprised by this painting, since it's quite different than a lot of the work I've seen in his studio. You can visit Greg Simmons' website to see more of his work. He does some fantastic things with water and rocks that I especially enjoy.
"Yellow Bird" by Evany Zirul is stunning when you see it on display. I continue to be amazed at the creativity that lives in the minds of artists.
I supposed my personal picks here give away the fact that I'm biased toward realistic art, as well as that which pictures the western landscapes I love. "Velvet Hills, San Miguel" by Laurel Sherrie certainly fits this pattern, and I'd guess she loves those hills she's painted.
A Phantom Exhibit is a Temporary Commercial Gallery
Would You Like to Produce a Phantom Exhibit?
Planning an exhibition of any kind is a huge task. The logistics are a large part. This was especially true of the month long Phantom exhibit. The physical setting wasn't perfect. The large display windows near the exhibits produced unwanted reflections or blinding glare at certain times for the day and night. Some displays needed electricity, but cords had to be placed so people wouldn't trip over them. Those who planned this event did a wonderful job in a temporary space where they had to work out the bugs quickly. The participating artists did much of the planning and work to make the Phantom Exhibit successful.
A phantom exhibit is like a temporary art gallery, but it has only a short time to put its exhibits together and prepare the physical space to display them. It has to be prepared to sell the work displayed and decide how that will be done. When the event is over, it has to be ready to tear everything down quickly and be out. The Wisconsin Arts Board is encouraging the use of Phantom Galleries to turn empty storefronts into temporary art galleries. They have shared some helpful information on creating a phantom gallery here.
While We're Taking a Break, Let's Eat
Pictures I Loved in Phantom 2
Pictures I Love More than The Jurors Did
Of course, the jurors had to choose between 465 pieces of art submitted to this gallery by 195 artists. I can't even pick a personal favorite among the few I photographed here. That doesn't count the many works that were framed under glass in which my own picture would have been reflected had I tried to shoot them. Occasionally I did try to take photos of pictures under glass, and you will see the lights reflected in them. I'm sure the pros who submitted their photography to this exhibit would have done a much better job of it. I'm not as good with digital enhancement software as they are, and if I spent as much time enhancing my photos as they do theirs, I'd never be able to share them with you in a timely manner. Just keep in mind that all these works look better in person than in any picture. I have only included one photo in this group because some of my other favorites were opposite windows or had too much glare from other sources to get decent pictures.
I'm going to arrange this section thematically because they are often arranged that way in the exhibit. I also want to clarify the copyright information. I was given permission to take the photographs I have used here, and I own the copyright to these photos. However, the artists own all rights to the works themselves that are in my pictures. None of my pictures are to be modified or trimmed to leave only the work of the artist.
The top picture, "Recharging" by Kabe Russell, a photo montage, is in a class of its own. How often have I said it would be wonderful to be able to recharge my brain so I could remember things better or think more clearly. I wouldn't call it a pretty picture, but it got my attention and I could certainly identify with it.
The next picture, "Figi Afternoon" by Rebecca Erbstoesser and Tracy Schalwitz, was done in oil on panels. It's a large and striking painting that grabs your eyes the minute they catch sight of the wall. The colors are bold, and besides that, I love turtles.
The next piece has an entirely different mood. First I have the entire encaustic work, "Familia" by Beth Fuller. Below it is a closeup of the words. It also shows the work in more detail. I couldn't help but think what a great gift it would be for just the right mother.
The next picture is of a wall featuring mostly flowers. I was especially impressed by the two digitally enhanced photographs of the delicate white irises by de la Roche, whom I had the chance to meet on my second visit, near the center. I found out he actually grows and hybridizes the irises, as well as photographing them. The gladiola photograph to the right of them is by Elaine Calvert. I'm not sure who did the other visible pictures here. I missed getting pictures of their tags.
You've probably figured out by now that I not only like realistic paintings, but I also like nature themes. That's probably why I was so drawn to the pictures in this section. .
Anne Laddon is known for her use of color, so it was easy to identify "Birds Take Flight" as hers immediately. Anne is the founder of Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, and I look forward to stopping in to see what she's up to whenever I'm there. One day I came in and she was painting some playful goats in some unusual colors.
Do you know now why the jurors had so much trouble picking out only about a fourth of these works for the juried shows. I'm so glad they didn't reject the rest, because otherwise I would not have seen any of the art in this section and the next unless I happened to visit the studios of the artists or see their work hanging in some other gallery or business around town.
I like the simplicity of "Melody of Love." by Marilyn Marshall. It does a good job of illustrating a bird that matches a bird's song -- fresh, pure, and light. It doesn't overwhelm one. Neither does this bird. I could be very comfortable seeing this bird every day.
"Tropical Morning" by Joan Scott is cheerful and relaxing. It's the kind of painting one wants to see when waking up in the morning. It lets you know that life is good and there's something to get up for and look forward to in the new day.
Next is Page Graebers' "Struggling for Existence." What more worthy subject than trees? And not only trees, but trees with character. They have struggled to stay alive, and as a result have developed unique shapes. Most of the trees I see here in the North County have also battled wind, storms, lighting, and sometimes even fire, to attain their own distinctive shapes. Some appear to even be dancing after a hard life. Since I spend a good deal of time on my nature walks photographing trees, I can see why a painter is also attracted to them. Graebers has captured the spirit of these trees by the effective use of shape and color.
Now there is a wall of seascapes ahead. The one in blue tones near the center is "Blue Progression" by W.B. Eckert, another of my favorite artists from Studios on the Park. He has a distinct style that made this acrylic painting easy to pick out as his. His shapes and colors are bold, and his simple lines flow in harmony with them. You'll see what I mean if you check out his other work on www.wbeckertstudio.com
Most of the other seascapes on this wall were either too high up to read tags on and photograph closer up, or they had reflective surfaces, or they were down too low to get a good look at unless you were far away from the wall. Some were paintings and some were photographs, but all were well done.
We'll now proceed to what I call the music wall, because there are so many musicians pictured here. This wall got a lot of attention at the show while I was there, especially the acrylic paintings of Andre (Igor) Rostowski (left, and top center.) The paintings on the center bottom and top right are by Sally Tippman. "Club Date," is under "Rhythm and Blues" and the picture to the right of "Rhythm and Blues" is "Sound Machine."
Last in this section is the "western" wall. I'm giving it to you in pieces, since some paintings are easier to see that way. Harold Spencer, another resident artist at Studios on the Park, did "Old Jim Bridger" in oil. The bands of color near the top under the mountains are characteristic of his recent trend of incorporating of more abstract features into his paintings. Harold used to teach art history and has even written texts on the subject, and I'm amazed at the variety of styles he creates. Last time I visited his studio he was painting intricate landscape scrolls -- not very tall, but very long. He called it doodling, but I've never seen such beautiful doodling.
In "Country Dog" by Charles Collins, an oil painting on canvas, the affection between man and dog is obvious, but understated. The colors are mellow, yet warm, and seem to match the man.
The last two pictures are in the western wall picture at the bottom. I like the expression on the cowboy's face in "Cowboy" by Carmen Fojo, an oil painting. He seems kind, but resolute. Cowboys have to be both. At the bottom on the right side of "Cowboy," we have "Grandfather's Fields," an intaglio print by Earlene Vaughn. It speaks of a comfortable intergenerational relationship as child and Grandfather survey the grandfather's kingdom together in a peaceful moment.
A Sampling of Sculpture and Mixed Media Works
One of my very favorites in this category was "The Dispute," which was shown with the award winners above. I can't begin to share everything in this category I found interesting, and you're probably as tired now as if you'd walked over a few rooms of this show. Many of these were hard to photograph and many were easy to miss because you couldn't just follow a wall around. these works were scattered everywhere. You saw one that was absolutely unique at the beginning of the video. Now I will show you some others that may or may not have been glimpsed in the video.
See The Artists' Creativity Yourself
Video of People's Choice Award Announcements
The People's Choice
One last award which is only given the last night of the show, is the People's Choice Award. Each person votes in a ballot container for the piece of art they like best. The three winners will be announced at the closing reception on June 2, 2012, from 6-9 PM. After it's chosen, I will let you see the winner here.
Writing this hub has been part of my trying to make a decision. I finally made my choice on the second visit. It was like trying to decide between apples, oranges, and bananas. There are 465 oil and watercolor paintings, intaglio prints, encaustic paintings, sculptures, and mixed media pieces. I have several favorites in each category. And what I've shown you here is only a fraction of the show. If you were voting, and you had only the choices I shared here, what would your two or three favorites be? Why? I hope you will share your answers in the comments. The artists would love to know. They enjoy being appreciated as much as writers do.