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A Twist on Nature

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Fanne Fernow’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest, in the Alter Eco show at the Tannery Arts Center. Photo: Laufer

By J.D. Hillard | KUSP News

One of the Monterey Bay area’s newest galleries is in the midst of its second art show. Alter Eco continues through March at the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Artist Crystal Kamoroff.

Surrounded by stark large-format two-dimensional art and a couple of installations that just bear looking at and mulling over, are three arm-sized towers, bright green with circles and dots up and down their length. Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Arts director Ann Hazels, who curated the show, says the suggest life and evolution.

“They tend to have this little lean and kind of sway to them in their gestures.” Hazels says.  ”To me in that pose it kind of automatically references a weed or a fern.”

Fanne Fernow’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest is made through encaustic, a process that’s becoming popular among painters. It involves embedding paint and other material in layers of wax. In this case the encaustic is layered on plaster forms. The piece stands out with its color and overt whimsy. Much of the art in Alter Eco tends toward grays and de-saturated color. Ryan Jones’ installation “Twin Arcs” spans an entire wall with radiating lines of blue construction chalk, imbuing the entire show with a sense of austerity. It could be a cold show, but that’s clearly not what Hazel’s was going for. Opposite “Twin Arcs” is what looks like a cozy corner, with chairs and books. This is sort of an excerpt from Jody Alexander’s “Evanescence.”

“We selected Jody’s work for the exhibitiion because we wanted there to b some reference to human,” Hazels says. “How dos man and person fit into nature and environment.”

Prior to the opening, SCICA director Ann Hazels, works on labels for the art. Photo: Laufer

You couldn’t sit in the chair or read the books. Not in the usual way. The chairs are intricately stitched with blond bundles of paper. The shelves are deeply layered with pages of the same paper.

“Because she’s using antique furniture and things that we sit on, things that we put our books on, picture frames with a book inside of it, there’s a direct and immediate reference,” Hazels says.

Alter Eco flirts with nature and landscape. Steve Laufer’s dazzling swirls of black and white include no representation of landscape, but he insists you’ll find landscape in there. In their fractal-like shapes, they might suggest something geological. In Michael Myers’s photographs washed-out prints of Midwest landscapes barely stand out against brushed metal backing. And in Jody Alexander’s book installation, Hazels sees the sandstone.

“The way she has fiber layered on top of itself it references sediment or rocks, the way earth is in the southwest,” Hazels says.

An SCICA announcement explains the exhibit “explores the concept of physical and emotional transition through photography, sculpture, and installation.” The selection of art in Alter Eco portrays natural change and impermanence and a variety of emotions that accompany those qualities. He Santa Cruz Institute for Contemporary Arts gallery is at the Tannery art Center in Santa Cruz.

Video produced by SCICA:

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