The title of this show refers to a figure of speech, metonymy, in which a part of something is used to signify the whole of it. For example, in metonymy, the sound created by holding a seashell to one’s ear can stand for the roar of the whole ocean. Adrienne Allebe, Tera Galanti, Stephanie Dotson, and Servando Garcia operate in different ways and media, but they come together through the shared technique of isolating a detail in order to obtain a better, more imaginative view of the whole. There’s also a common thread of ecological thinking about the impact of technology that aligns these artists.
The show’s metonymic tendency burns brightly in the series of five small canvases by Galanti, titled For Ruby (2009). These three-by-five-inch oil portraits are life-sized renderings of what at first appears to be one active mouse. On consulting the exhibition catalogue, however, one learns that Ruby is a red-tailed hawk living at the Pacific Wildlife Care Center in Morro Bay, where the artist is a volunteer. Far from being portraits of a single acrobatic mouse, the For Ruby pictures are paintings of dead mice as they are defrosting to become food for the captive hawk. It’s a dark metonymy-frozen hawk food is part of a somewhat desperate whole, yet Galanti, who works with animals, seems comfortable enough with it.