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Ventura College Displays 'Drawing' Power

The works in the exhibit by Missouri art students give viewers a sense of direct connection with creativity.


Take away the technological advancements and conceptual strategies, which have changed the face of visual art over the last few decades, and the art impulse can still be traced back to the source: drawing. However strong the roles of computers and post-modern thinking in reinventing the function of art, the drawn line remains a basic building block.

"Drawing: Investigations," the current exhibition at Ventura College's two galleries, emphasizes the undying importance of drawing, while touching on new applications. In professor Michael Walling's statement for the show, which presents works by Kansas City Art Institute students, he stresses the virtues of drawing in approaching "authenticity and reaffirming that the artist's hand still counts in the expression of ideas."

A sense of direct impact, of making a hands-on connection with the creative impulse, is strongly in evidence in this show. At times, the works here gain in immediacy what they lack in finish or preconception.

In the college's Gallery 2, Jake Klotz presents a semi-abstract world of hazy forms and space, rendered in graphite. Bill Suran's nude study appears cool and rational, except for a misshapen face, which seems to have begun melting. Matt Crane's colorful piece juxtaposes danger and innocence, a childlike house and a pistol.

Over in the New Media Gallery, aptly enough, the works venture into more elaborate and experimental media, stretching the definition of what constitutes drawing. There, we find computer-generated images, contrasting with the tactility of Christina Rothe's blend of simple line drawings and needle-and-thread stitch work on paper.

In one of the more impressive and peculiar pieces, Linda Sackin shows an otherworldly landscape, full of strange conical shapes dangling in an undefined dimension--are they lampshades, masks or dream-spun insects? The surreal instinct consumes Christy Gould's fantastical, and fastidious, merger of images--animal, mineral, sexual and irrational.

Two-dimensional art becomes 3-D in Justin McInteer's droll stack of crudely hacked-at paper, defined as "27 Attempts to Make a Perfect Hole." McInteer's piece could serve as a comment on the very nature of freehand expression, celebrating its imprecision and impulsiveness.

* "Drawing: Investigations," through Sept. 26 at Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Road in Ventura. Gallery hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday; 654-6468.


Group Show Department: It's another month and another group show at the Buenaventura Gallery. Whereas last month's "Merit Awards" focused on the work of a select handful of artists, the current "Open Competition" is an often-engaging free-for-all, in which artwork is packed to the gallery's rafters and into the restrooms.

Nabbing the first-place ribbon in the two-dimensional division, "Balancing Chaos & Order" definitely has balance at its heart, as it has been with much of Sherry Loehr's recent work. Sumptuously detailed fruits are woven into a composition with abstract elements and cryptic bits of text. First place in the three-dimensional category, Marcia Cummings' "High Tech Egg SW," features a zippered egg, a nest of thorns and blue feathers.

There are big, extroverted pieces here, such as Duane Simshauser's "Landscape 3," with a cow skull thrusting out of the picture plane. Quieter pleasures include Patricia Lay's warmly rendered "Tangelos" and Elizabeth Azcarate's "Dear Ones," a tangle of cactus branches and a sun-baked terra cotta vessel.

Other notable pieces include Gerd Koch's "Icarus," which uses an intense painterly approach to deal with mythology and matter transformed by fire. The narrative strain is more overt in David James Smith's "Blues for You," an evocative roadside portrait of a blues man in the rural South.

Nicole Erd's view of Santa Cruz Island is inflamed, full of quivering, tingly impressionist brushwork. A similarly skewed approach to landscape painting graces Chloe Murdoch's "Gstaad," a scene of natural splendor and electrified textures. And, for whimsy's sake, Eve-Riser Roberts' "Self-Portrait as a Landscape" is just that.

Don't forget to visit the bathroom, where Jennie Snyder's "Ten to Six" tells of blissful domesticity, in the form of eggs and a teapot, depicted as symbols in the tender, early waking hours.

* "Open Competition," through Oct. 5 at the Buenaventura Gallery, 700 E. Santa Clara Road in Ventura. Gallery hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 648-1235.


Grouping, Part 2: In other group show news, the Thousand Oaks Community Gallery is currently hosting "Splash II '96," a cavalcade of work by student watercolorists. There are standard-issue paintings aplenty, but also pieces vying for closer attention.

Fruit and flowers are, predictably, a common theme. With "The Apricots Are In," Geri Schonberg caresses supple, sun-dappled fruit skins, while Wendy C. Noda burrows deep into a red rose for an extreme close-up, and Sheila Magnuson's "Metamorphose" tells its story by depicting plums and prunes.

Coming from more unusual perspectives, Valerie Zentil chronicles the bustle of a marketplace in "Mercado Ziluatamejo," and Sally Benton's "Do We Ever See Ourselves as Others See Us" depicts a rooster strutting in front of a painting of the same scene.

* "Splash II '96," through Sept. 29 at Thousand Oaks Community Gallery, 2331 Borchard Road in Newbury Park; 1-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; 498-4390.

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