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SLO Museum of Art presents fine craftsmanship in new exhibit, Dimensions 

The word “crafts” tends to bring to mind the sort of activities that parents or schools threw at children to keep them busy. Like making a log cabin out of Popsicle sticks, or a snowman out of naught but socks and a bucket of sand. It’s messy, it’s frustrating, and it makes for some very strange looking displays in the living room. Personally, I’ve always hated crafts: The glue stuck to my fingers, and my log cabin looked like it’d been struck by a hurricane. But I digress.

click to enlarge MACARONI AND TEAS: - IMAGE BY RANDY STROMSOE
  • IMAGE BY RANDY STROMSOE
  • MACARONI AND TEAS:

Redefining the term “craft,” the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is holding Dimensions, a juried exhibition of fine craft through Oct. 12. The exhibit is devoted entirely to showcasing an eclectic mix of craftwork from various California artists. And folks, these are definitely not your child’s glue-encrusted pipe cleaners, or sad-sack snowmen.

For the first time, the application process for Dimensions was expanded statewide, with 219 pieces submitted for approval. Juried by Carol Sauvion, the owner of the Freehand Gallery in Los Angeles and the creator of the Peabody award-winning series Craft in America, the entries were narrowed down to just 81 pieces. In addition, Dimensions is also showcasing four works from four members of the Central Coast Craftmakers who died recently: Barbara Flynn, Ken Ray, Ina Mae Overman, and Janine Kirkpatrick will have one piece from each of their works on display to honor their memory.

Randy Stromsoe, a silversmith based in Templeton, received first place for his entry in the Dimensions exhibit. His designs are all in the same vein: sleek lines, with a cool, minimalistic quality. His entry, Macaroni and Teas, two pieces of gleaming, curved silver, evokes this style, leaving functionality behind for an appealing stylistic flair. You’re not quite sure what exactly it is that the silver has been manipulated into, but at the same time, you don’t really care, because it just looks so darn interesting.

“I love to work with sterling silver mainly, and obviously gold is fantastic,” Stromsoe said. “But pewter has been my friend for years. I can work out designs, shapes, forms, and ideas in a way that doesn’t break the bank. It’s also a very sanitary, sturdy metal. After working out ‘the bugs’ in a design, I can go on to craft it in sterling silver, if there is a calling for it.”

click to enlarge STUDY OF A DOG: - IMAGE BY EVANY ZIRUL
  • IMAGE BY EVANY ZIRUL
  • STUDY OF A DOG:

Fresno sculptor Evany Zirul, a fellow entrant in Dimensions, has a completely different approach to her work. Using mostly wire hangers that have been welded into different shapes, Zirul experiments with movement and body shapes. In addition to one of her sculptures being shown, Zirul also has a book of her drawings on display as well, which serves to illustrate—no pun intended—her creative beginnings.

“As a teenager I would draw all over the margins of my books and my notes,” Zirul said. “And so my parents got me a special pen and a separate book so that I wouldn’t draw over my homework anymore, and then I just carried the book around with me everywhere, and I would draw while I was listening in class. The book has all of the drawings I’ve made over my lifetime.” 

A recently retired surgeon, Zirul began pursuing her art as more than just a hobby when a fellow retiree taught her how to weld coat hangers together to make sculptures.

“It looked so much like all the drawings that I did,” Zirul said. “I liked how they were so linear, so I just worked them like I would my drawings.”

Zirul said she likes experimenting with the coat hangers, bending and twisting them in ways that suggest motion, creating sculptures that seem to teeter on the edge of imbalance. Her entry, Study of a Dog, illustrates this experimentation with balance. Made from steel hangers welded together, the pooch sits slightly askew, like a wobbly chair. The sculpture has a dream-like quality about it, with the intricate patterns and swirls that make up the body of the subject.

- HAND-CRAFTED:  Dimensions is on display at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art through Oct. 12. Admission is free. For more information, visit sloma.org, or call 543-8562. -
  • HAND-CRAFTED: Dimensions is on display at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art through Oct. 12. Admission is free. For more information, visit sloma.org, or call 543-8562.

“For me it’s about trying to make something hard and unforgiving like steel into something soft.”

 

Intern Adriana Catanzarite is crafty, just not with crafts. Get in contact with her via Jessica Peña at jpena@newtimesslo.com.

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