Stanford Art Spaces
Two Artists Fix the Passing Scene
Stanford Art Spaces is pleased to announce its July-August 2014 art exhibit, featuring Artifacts: Urban Images on Habothai Silk, Charles Anselmo’s photos of the slowly crumbling architecture of Havana, New Orleans, and other cities, printed on unstretched, unframed fabric, and Specific Gravity Martin, Webb’s semi-abstract assemblage paintings of America and west Africa. Both are established Bay Area artists. Anselmo, from Redwood City, recently returned from the latest of many photo-tourism trips that he has led to Cuba in the past decade; in addition, he is represented by PHOTO Gallery in Oakland. Webb, of Albany, has shown extensively in the Bay Area, including at The Compound in Oakland, and has just installed a public sculpture in Palo Alto and is currently working on a mural at the Baylands Nature Preserve. Although Anselmo’s photographically printed silks and Webb’s paintings on wood panel are very different in feeling—ethereal versus material, and light versus heavy—both artists reveal the human presence pervading the built environment and explore the mystery of time.
Anselmo’s is know for his large-scale color photographs on paper of “architectural ghosts” which convey with stunning beauty “the “rich and compelling archaeology of loss [in this] … hidden world of remnants.” Anselmo’s new works, printed on lustrous Habotai silk—the word means, in Japanese, ‘downy and soft’—, similarly evoke, in the warm palette of decay,” philosophical thoughts of transience. The romance of ruins is nothing new, of course. The eighteenth-century Italian artist Piranesi documented Roman ruins, prefiguring the empire’s-end Romantic visions of J.M.W Turner and Hubert Robert, among others, in the nineteenth. For Anselmo, such “depictions of culture[s ...] “disconnected from the ideals of their own past” have contemporary relevance, as human demands on the natural world grow ever more excessive. “Missing Building,” “Stairwell” and “Perseverencia,” with their dappled, organic textures overlaying geometric forms, gently wafting a few inches out from the wall, serve as living, breathing reminders that, in the eternal flux, nothing is forever.
Webb’s work is as aesthetically solid as its hardware-store materials: found objects affixed to wooden panels. These metal fasteners are trowleled over with cement, which is then partially removed with an angle grinder, rinsed, and painted; incorporated into paintings, they are fixed in time, like memorabilia preserved in albums, shadow boxes, or bell jars. Webb: “My work comes from thoughts about people, places, and home; about age, time, and timelessness, permanence and impermanence; about movement, migration, and belonging. People and places are depicted in images and objects (keys, nails, hinges) that combine simple representations, layered abstractions, and plain-spoken materials.” Webb’s direct, unfussy approach to materials, his low-key palette, and restrained lyricism link him, for me, with Jasper Johns, who occasionally depicted himself as a shadow or silhouette. Webb’s “Super 8,” “Jacob Lawrence’s Shovel, ” and his “Day Labor” series are powerful yet understated sociopolitical paintings about daily existence that render contemporary life, especially the unsung global 99%, quietly heroic, asking of the viewer only imagination and empathy.
There will be a reception for the artists on Thursday, July 24, from 4:30 to 7:00pm. The artists will discuss the work and answer questions at 6:00. Parking at all university lots and structures is free after 4:00.
Stanford Art Spaces is an exhibition program serving the Paul G. Allen Building, housing the Center for Integrated Systems, the program’s longtime sponsor, and the David W. Packard Electrical Engineering Building, with smaller venues located throughout campus. All are open during normal weekday business hours. For further information, or to arrange a tour, please contact Curator DeWitt Cheng at 650-725-3622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.