Bob Blackwell's "1,000 Steps" (2003).
Off the Wall
Freshness in Familiarity
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Whether it’s tucked into unexpected corners or displayed in plain view, visual art fills our lives. It acts as a reflection of our cultural values and identity, reminding us that the smallest items can evoke a sense of community and commonality. In these three locales, familiarity is the key to opening our eyes to new ways of seeing.
Spectrum Athletic Club underwent a renovation recently, and the new sitting area and lounge are now made even more comfortable by member Bob Blackwell’s captivating images of exotic and familiar locales including Rome, Goleta, and Santa Barbara. A former banker turned photographer, Blackwell has traveled around the world, but it is his ability to picture recognizable landmarks with unusual developing and editing techniques that lend his work intrigue. The collection at Spectrum includes multiple versions of “Goleta Pier,” all of which begin with the same photograph of the locally iconic locale. Using high light exposure and slow shutter speeds, Blackwell imagines the pier in a fading light, waves frozen in the foamy tide. In one version, the sky is a heightened blue; in another, it’s white, and blinding light reduces the pier to its formal qualities of line and shape. In “1,000 Steps,” a photo of the beach access staircase on the Mesa, Blackwell has used pigmented ink, tea stain, and acrylic paint on the photo’s surface to transform the site into a mysterious, ancient ruin.
“Adrift” by Julika Lackner
Painter Julika Lackner conjures a similar spirit of romance and mystery in her paintings of Southern California coastlines rendered from a bird’s eye aerial view. Currently on view at the UCSB Faculty Club, her paintings complement the restaurant’s setting on the lagoon, echoing the blueness of water and sky. All of Lackner’s paintings take on similar subjects, but differ significantly in their treatment and details. As a series, the human-made structures on the shorelines all resemble one another, varying only slightly in formation, proximity to the water, and density. But in each scene, it is the portrait of the ocean that is most alluring. Viewed from above and partially obscured by floating tufts of clouds or sea mist, the Pacific ranges in these paintings from its darkest, stormiest blues to the deep green of calm waters. To any Californian viewer, these portraits of the shoreline resonate with familiarity.
In Our Nature
Tucked in the corner of the fourth floor of the County Administration Building, a small hallway exhibition brings big surprises with an exhibition featuring the work of significant regional photographers, including Jean-Pierre Hebert, William B. Dewey, Wayne Schoenfeld, Barbara Parmet, and Ines E. Roberts. Curated by Elaine LeVasseur, this austere collection of photographs-many of them nature-themed-is full of highlights. Among them are small-scale works by Hebert, better known for his large, computer-generated, abstract drawings. Here, we witness Hebert’s first foray into the photographic medium as he examines his interest in Eastern philosophical principles by photographing “digital Zen gardens,” kinetic sculptures driven by a computer that traces patterns into the sand. The resulting shots are punctuated by high-contrast light that emphasizes the exactness of the geometric patterns. In contrast, across the hallway, Roberts’s photos of palm bark and other detritus resting on sandy dunes capture the artful chaos of nature.