Long Beach Creative Group June 20- July 18, 2020
By Nancy Berkoff
Visions of Shape and Form, currently on view at the LBCG gallery, showcases the work of seven Long Beach-area sculptors including Dave Clark, Donna Fritsche, Susan Hawkins, Connie Lane, Karena Massengil, Bob Rosenfield and Michael Sterns. For insight into each artist’s unique style and vision, please visit the LBCGweb site for live interviews by art writer Sander Wolf: http://longbeachcreativegroup.com/new-exhibits/
After walking through the Ron Briggs lobby gallery, which is always a treat, we see the emotion-provoking wall sculptures of southern California native Donna Fritsche. In a past life, for twenty five years, Fritsche was the Long Beach Playhouse’s resident costume designer. Per Fritsche, about her mixed media pieces, “I have no religious affiliation or background however, I am drawn to the pathos and raw emotion of icons, retablos and Santos figures. I also have a fascination for the human face. I hope the viewer takes away a sense of spirituality and peace.”
Dave Clark’s eclectic and unexpected works push the viewer to wonder about their origins as “sculptural things that might tell a story, or serve some practical purpose. “Clark is driven by his interest in discovering and using materials in interesting ways. His early inspiration came from common shapes, materials, and patterns found in everyday objects. Today his inspiration comes from lying awake at night and not being able to sleep… and then thinking; “Oh, yeah, that would be cool to try.” Clarkleaves the viewer with open-ended questions about the sculptures context and potential meanings or not. He leaves the viewer wondering and intrigued.
Bob Rosenfield’s excellent wood pieces reflect his passion, using his medium as a creative canvas. Rosenfield explains, “Working with wood is both a passion and a creative canvas. It offers me the joy of taking a piece of wood and exposing the inner beauty that is later reflected outside by surface texture and form. Wood is a living medium of natural wonder and timeless beauty, invoking more feeling of warmth than any other materials I have worked with.”
Susan Hawkins, who lives and works in Long Beach, has selected several of her polychrome plaster, bronze, terracotta and steel figurative pieces for the show. Hawkins’ forms evoke both classic and modern forms, movement, emotion and tension. Hawkins provided some background, “My work finds its roots in the ancient Greek philosophy that truth equals beauty. Each piece draws its inspiration from direct observation of life- human figures or natural elements. The search for the essential nature, both of form and gesture, is a constant motivator. The tactile experience of shaping forms with my hands, the feel of the materials- clay, wax, plaster, metal- is seductive.”
Karen Massengill’s diptych painting/sculptures are an exciting contrast to Hawkins’ works. The artist suggested that viewers might use her pieces to reflect upon life’s processes and challenges. The artist reflected, “It is important to me that viewers of my art have their own private experience engaging with the work. After traveling in Kenya and Tanzania for 3 weeks and spending time with the Maasai, Kikuyu, and Samburu tribes, I created some of these works. Witnessing the wild animals in their natural habitat was an experience beyond words and has inspired much of this current work.These works have been created out of the imperative to acknowledge and respect their unique and very special relationship with nature and the lessons for survival they afford all of us.
Michael Stearns’ selected pieces contain intense colors intertwined with quiet with quiet textures. As Stearns noted, “my paintings and sculpture often share many layers that are scrubbed, scratched, textured, wiped and washed. I frequently incorporate charcoal, pastels and natural materials. The structural wall hanging pieces move between painting and sculpture. During the creation process the sculptures are painted and symbols as well as designs are added to express my thought process.
Connie Lane’s work focuses on emotion and feelings involving a persistent recollection of congested living quarters in Hong Kong where laundry hanging out of windows is commonplace.
“My childhood apartment, housed my parents, seven brothers, three sisters and me; it was compact and often I felt trapped. Inspired by this living condition, Lane states, Jammed is made using pillows as a metaphor of the human bodies stuffed tightly in a wooden structure, to express the notion of confinement. Lane’s work is intriguing on its own but knowing the context and the meaning of her work make the experience even more gratifying and insightful. The various forms, A Surreal Mix, are a result of my subconscious approach. They are coated with layers of liquid latex and paint. Through this process of making, I have experienced a sensual satisfaction in the feel of its delicacy. Like skin, protective yet vulnerable.”
As always, the Long Beach Creative Group has brought together local artists making an impact on today’s events. The works speak to global issues, assisting viewers to engage in a personal dialogue about appreciating and healing the world.