HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW: That’s the nature of life, and one of the best reasons to make the most of what we’ve got. Husband-and-wife team Harold and Dorrie Powell, co-owners of Telios Environmental Design and Development, have crafted their lives around the carpe diem mentality. They’ve fused their passions for art and the environment in the business of designing green buildings and greening existing spaces, and their latest project, Telios Design House (131 E. Anapamu St.), is a showcase both for their projects and for the work of other artists whose ethos echoes theirs.
Currently on view at the gallery are works by GONE, a recent S.B. transplant who uses recycled and salvaged materials to create bold, mixed-media works influenced by the pop/street art of Keith Haring and the raw poetry of Charles Bukowski. GONE’s moniker reflects his stance that life’s too short to waste, and many of his works feature recurring figures who seem to have missed the memo: bald men in business suits, their shoulders slumped, their eyes reduced to slits by work that does not bring them to life. There’s a defiance here, borne out in a code of symbols. His canvasses bear a network of dollar signs, martini glasses, question marks, and inverted hearts—a superscript in bright, latex house paint—a screen through which a darker world dimly emerges.
Some pieces are clearly made from salvaged material. A wooden palette bearing the terse poem “creative peaks are often rock bottom” was one of 10 such pieces the artist chained together and left on Hollywood Boulevard; only one was recovered. Another work is a chunk of concrete and mortar salvaged from a dumpster at Pierpont in Ventura; the downtrodden businessmen appear on one of its smoother faces. This piece became a point of contention when GONE left it outside a Montecito Gallery as a kind of business card; the owner saw it more as a brick-through-the-window threat.
On a high wall hangs a dark, apocalyptic scene of an industrial wasteland where red drips rain down on the heads of two tiny figures: a man holding an umbrella over his own head, while his son stands uncovered, gaping at the awful legacy his generation will inherit. Through the gallery window, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, seat of government and gold standard for architectural beauty, provides the perfect foil.
Alongside GONE’s counter-cultural tendencies are works on canvas, wood panel, and rusty metal plates, featuring idealized female forms, many of them naked, and all painted with a certain admiration, even reverence. “A lot of problems and solutions in the world are about simple sexual frustration,” GONE claimed when asked about these pieces. You’re Here, I’m GONE runs through January 9, 2011. Call 966-4005 for gallery hours.
ALSO ON SHOW: If GONE’s worldview challenges the status quo, the current show on view at Just Folk (2346 Lillie Ave., Summerland) fairly steamrolls it. These works in various media are the creations of artists from Santa Barbara’s Alpha Resource Center and L.A. Goal, two organizations that support people with developmental disabilities. Though the artists involved receive support with materials and tools, they are creatively self-directed, and every work in the show is a unique artistic expression. Images like Michelle Oliner’s colored pencil drawing “Outer Space” are reminders of the great joy and mystery of the universe, and the importance of challenging ourselves to look again—and again—at what we think we know. The show runs through January 12, 2011.
Over at Wall Space Gallery (113 W. Ortega St.), through the end of this month you’ll find Into the Light, a themed photography group show that includes Patricia Houghton Clarke’s silent, ominous image “Twi-Light,” shot in Berlin earlier this year, as well as a number of surreal and haunting images by Jennifer Hudson.