Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Sep 02nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Naked Pilgrim

ae2LETTING GO: Companions have reached land’s limit in Down the River. Robynn Smith at MichaelAngelo’s
On wood and on paper, the recent works of Robynn Smith at MichaelAngelo Gallery express with eloquence and passion the sturm und drang shared this moment throughout the world. While the earth cracks and waters heave and the oppressed rise up and monsters aim guns at children and freaks clamber over each other for an antidote to radioactive clouds an ocean away, Smith finds eddies in the grain of wood and draws a tree root pushing into the air, stretching out as if to find a clean spot for life.  This body of work is neither sudden nor impulsive, but, just like the inequities and abominations it alludes to, it has been years in development, and getting darker.

On the banks of a river a woman and a dog become indistinguishable from each other, the hunch of a back becomes a fall of dark hair; an arm blends with a sleek paw in a knot of intention, leaning over a tangle of pipes spewing into rippling waters. In the foreground of Down the River, under the water’s surface a bed of shellfish and rocks glimmers. Beyond the figures, four large rusty-looking balls seem suspended among ripples of current. The composition fixes the eyes on the central figures from which every curved line and pipe and ripple emanate.

Painting on a large plywood panel, Smith deploys the naked concentric whorls of the wood to indicate ripples, and, within painted areas, incises the surface of the wood to use its honey-color as highlights and lines, and the very act of cutting to carry powerful psychological intensity.  A screened photograph acts as the first layer of the shadowed underwater life, over-painted and scarred to create ripples and reflections. The dog, the woman, the confluence of industry and nature, the artifacts of some forgotten disaster, the insistence of life under the waters are all themes to which Smith has returned for many years.  The expressionistic brush and breathless gesture of her lines scream purpose from within the layers of obscurity. What is happening here?

The seven works on wood in this exhibition each carry such intensity and utilize similar tools of over-painted photographic images, incised lines, and a sense of the natural world continuing in the dark place that humans have made.  Smith has long been a pilgrim to sites of disasters: battlefields, bunkers, memorials—as if to feel with her own fingers the evidence. Yet in all these works on wood and also the series of fine art prints exhibited here, she finds within nature that which, within all the darkness, prevails.

“Robynn Smith: Works on Wood and Paper” continues at MichaelAngelo Gallery through March 27.  Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. or by appointment at 426-5500.


Maureen Davidson writes about the arts as “The Exhibitionist.” This column and her radio spot and blog at KUSP.org/exhibitionist are funded in part by a grant from the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Girl Gone Wild

’70s SF recalled in raw, poignant ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sushi Garden

Local sushi empire expands to Scotts Valley

 

Do you overshare online?

I don’t think so. I just post things about my life, like successful things. Sometimes I just like sharing different news that I find interesting, or favorite artists, clothes, music. I like to post photos. Natalia Delgado, Santa Cruz, Server

 

McIntyre Vineyards

I recently met up with three friends for dinner at Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort. We chose to eat outside so we could watch the sun set over the ocean, but the Aptos fog rolled in and swallowed it up.

 

Sustainable Supper

The Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper series supports its award-winning programs