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Feb 10th
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Balancing on the Brink at Felix Kulpa

ane_felixkulpaIn a black-on-black topography delineated only by texture, a thick viscous muck marches upward at an angle within a deep steel frame. This tarry density contrasts with the reflective, burnished darkness beyond, suggesting a dangerous precipice looming against shining sky. Carved deep within the tarry cliff, small oblong chambers are scribed with lines suggesting growing seeds. A small cluster of metal type floats above the dark horizon like seeds just released in the wind in an untitled work by Michelle Stitz.

Stitz in her most ambitious and successful works seems to seek that dangerous fulcrum between profoundly minimal and disturbingly unresolved. Just a hair more clear, linear or prescriptive and they could become prettily prosaic, but with any less information, could seem empty of content. That’s a slender hair upon which to hang a reputation and Stitz runs right up to that hairsbreadth, and balances right there, on the precipice.

With artist Jody Alexander, Stitz shares the Felix Kulpa Gallery in the exhibition “White Balance,” which closes July 31. It would be a crime to miss the show; the gallery has never been lovelier or more interesting.

In “Stillness,” Stitz uses the handsome materials for which she has become known: multilayered resin, pigment and embedded objects bounded by deep steel frames. Within an engrossing rosy pool of deep translucent resin, lines of embedded pigment angle into the depths, never really meeting on one plane, but intersecting in Escher-esque relationships, calling on the viewer to peer deeply within and let go any rigid ideas of figure and ground.

Two paintings on black roofing paper deviate from Stitz’s usual materials and imagery, painted with salt solution interacting turbulently with the tar-infused paper, scribed with rudimentary drawings, embellished with small gardens of plastic flowers and floated within steel-framed glass boxes.ane_felixexhib In “Cement Garden” a giant amorphous white salty cloud hovers ominously over the pitch-dark horizon of the naked paper while an old-fashioned metal bed floats in indeterminate space, a haunting, dreamlike image.

I am already many times on record for my admiration of Jody Alexander’s wryly witty, sensually delightful objects and installations. Her work is perfectly sited in the diffused light of Felix Kulpa, with its tenderly crumbling walls and ebullient spirit. The pale, precious volumes of “Felix’s Notebooks,” the toothsome pages of gothic type embellished with delicate, colorful stitchery, the old pedestal sink “armed” with a mound of spitwads and straws seem designed into the room. The artists share subtle palettes and sophisticated sensibilities.


“White Balance” at Felix Kulpa Gallery, 107 Elm St., Santa Cruz closes Sunday, July 31. Maureen Davidson writes about the arts as The Exhibitionist. This column and her radio spot and blog at KUSP.org are funded in part by a grant from the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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