Porch Gallery Ojai’s California Space & Light exhibit is the 2017 entry in a series of shows known as the “Ojai Invitational.” The idea is to devote a regular slot in the gallery’s exhibition calendar to artists who reflect a common understanding of the role of art in a region defined as extending from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Kelly Berg, Andy Moses, Jennifer Wolf, and Brad Howe share a devotion to the way that the landscape and light of coastal Southern California can be transmitted through a blend of abstract forms and representational elements. For Kelly Berg, this means building heavily layered and deeply encrusted paintings that play on the visual cues we employ to render geological and natural phenomena. It may sound dry, but in practice Berg’s explorations of such topics as “Electroluminescence” dazzle with a witty and evocative command of various representational techniques. Brad Howe fashions extraordinary sculpture in stainless steel. In soaring curved slabs of mirror like “Glimpse” (2016), Howe captures both the timeless impulse of geometric abstraction and the flickering reality of an object that’s visually full of whatever surrounds it.
Andy Moses paints with his body, eschewing the conventional brush in favor of a technique that involves the manipulation of the picture surface as washes of acrylic paint spread across it in waves. Paradoxically, the resulting work is the show’s most similar to traditional landscape art, particularly coastal scenes. Finally, Jennifer Wolf’s extraordinary achievements in abstraction emerge from a personal pigment laboratory. Her shimmering surfaces vibrate at a frequency that agrees with the famous Ojai light.