GEORGE RIVERA GALLERY REVIEW
“Floor To Ceiling” A Salon-Style Extravaganza is the third exhibition that been featured at the Branner Spangenberg Gallery in Redwood City. Located at 275A Linden Street this space is a welcome oasis of creativity and vibrant energy combining artist studio spaces of many of the Bay Area’s well known artists and the Branner Spangenberg Gallery in the same building.
Gallery owner and artist Martha Branner has once again successfully found the right formula and vision in developing this space, and the good news is that this is only the beginning for this gallery’s future plans. Branner has enlisted the assistance of experienced creative individuals like Michael Pauker who is the curator of this current exhibition “Floor To Ceiling”. Pauker’s intent with this exhibition as expressed in his curator’s statement has in my opinion successfully achieved the intended goal. This is a large group exhibition with a lot of works from many artists, most of them well known throughout the Greater Bay Area art scene including some major recognized names. As stated we are witness to a “Salon-Style” presentation, design and arrangement of all of the artworks which are on the average small works in scale, not quite floor to ceiling or “skied” but a lot to look at and experience. Presented on soft gray painted walls and evenly lit, Pauker has done a fine job of creating the right quality of exhibition space for all of these works to be experienced, and there are a lot of works. This is the challenging part for the viewer, there is so much to see, yet there is also a cohesiveness and connection that flows through the entire exhibition and presentation.
I highly recommend that the viewer make the time to experience all of the visual and poetic treasures that is present throughout this exhibition. Allowing you to fully enjoy this exhibition will be a challenge because there are so many strong works and there isn’t much room or space to isolate each piece. You will find keeping your peripheral vision in check a challenge but it is certainly worth the effort. Branner and Pauker have presented a very engaging exhibition that left this viewer exhausted and off balance as so many pieces triggered ideas, questions and causing my thoughts to just wander.
I have generally recognized that my exhaustion is due to the fact that the art has engaged me deeply and caused a connection with me to the work(s) whenever I experience a strong exhibition. “Floor To Ceiling” is a strong exhibition and presentation, whether you are looking for a visual, poetic, ethereal, thought provoking, lyrical or a combination of these experiences, you will find it in this exhibition.
I found many works of note that engaged me in many ways, here are some particular works that reflect the richness and depth that is represented throughout this exhibition. “Man and Dog/Two Figures” by Jan Karlton features two delicate expressive figures which are standing and facing the viewer, but not making eye contact with the viewer. The title of the work does state man and dog and two figures but is this what we are really seeing and witnessing? Are these figures symbolic or a metaphor for a human figure and a spiritual animal totem, a Shaman, a spirit, or just as the title states a man and a dog? The work represented in this exhibition is a digital print of the original work, yet the wonderful handling of gray values, tone, exquisite linear technique on the figures are harmoniously brought together with confidence, freshness and consistency.
“Sin” a collage by Peter Foley is a visually engaging work which is very intriguing and mysterious and he is able to weave all of these elements together in rhythmic harmony. The viewer is left to find their own meanings and journey in this piece, a journey that is extremely worthwhile.
“Paris VII” by Michael Pauker is a combination of both visual and emotionally layered and richly textured depth in this etching and collage. The wonderful handling and execution of merging non-objective forms, shapes, color and layers of ethereal imagery with intricate objective linear forms creates a surreal place of existence, time and place, a dreamscape of reality or not. Maybe we are witness to the essence of the artist’s memories, experiences and reflections; this is left for the viewer to experience. Composed beautifully and effectively Pauker brings all of the key elements together in harmony allowing the viewer to experience the full impact of this memorable work.
“Untitled” #28 an acrylic painting by Camille Ball is a very confident, engaging and strong abstract expressionistic painting. Fresh and richly textured this beautifully composed painting’s strength packs a visual and emotional punch of a much larger painting, yet even in its small scale it succeeds effortlessly and easily conveys the artist’s intent. Every element in this painting flows together seamlessly and effectively.
“Crazing Cow” by Yasmin Lambie-Simpson is a small subtle and ethereal monotype that captivates and takes the viewer inward within you to experience and feel the intent of this work. Subtle yet fresh and confident, the artist utilizes harmonious handling of understated colors of consistent temperature and tone and orchestrates shapes and forms to flow together in a quiet rhythm. This piece can serve as a “springboard” to allow yourself to escape deep within your own quiet places if you allow it to.
“Picasso, Heart Maker Heart Breaker” by Roberta Loach. This color etching by one of the Bay Area’s leading artists has presented a very visually engaging and thought provoking work depicting one of the great masters in 20th century painting, Pablo Picasso. Beautifully composed and etched/drawn this work exemplifies the lasting qualities of the mastering of the techniques used by the artist and the harmonious presence of the artist’s idea and intent that has been associated and recognized by curators, galleries and collectors for many decades in this artist painting, prints and drawings. This work exemplifies the deeply layered and textured handling and use of ideas, symbology and metaphor which is associated with all of her work. Resulting in a work that completely engages and captivates the viewer on many levels, never predictable, sometimes uncomfortable, and always thought provoking and time well spent.
Senior Curator Emeritus
Santa Clara, CA