Instructors and Pupils Display Works at El Museo
by Jack Foran
The current show at El Museo examines into the folk philosophical dictum about the apple not falling far from the tree. It consists of works by art teachers in the public schools along with works of some of their students, or in some cases their kids. The dictum seems pretty much to hold.
Jackie Hart, a teacher at McKinley High School has an expressionist watercolor mountainscape with waterfall and lake. Students Andrew Goldsmith and Abdullahi Mberura have landscapes/mountainscapes of a somewhat lesser emotionality. Kayla Alemany has a farmstead under a foreboding dark sky. And Amber Euscher a kind of semi-abstract geological landscape, the interest, it seems, not in the vista so much as the nature of the terrain, mapped as if by soil type, rock type, etc. Hart also teaches at The Academy. Two of her students there—De’Ja Hall and Stacey Jackson—made little plaster sculptural heads—one with google eyes and feathers on top, one that looks like a pirate.
Sean Witucki, a teacher at the Visual and Performing Arts school, has two representational painterly paintings—no question that they are paintings versus some other media, but no doubt either about what they are paintings of—a majestic tree in one case, a slightly depleted looking farm field in the other. His students, Annisa Glover-Briggs and Hannah Wojtulski, seem to respond especially to the straightforward aspect. Both have pencil on paper technical scientific drawings of animal skulls. Careful, capable work.
Another teacher at Visual and Performing Arts, Elizabeth Larrabee, has two handsome semi-abstract neo-Japonisme works in ink and enamel, one a kind of close-focus representation of the moment of break-up of a wave--the transformation from blue water to foam--in a visual style reminiscent of Hokusai. Works by three of her students—Monet Kifner, Kylie Spink, Brandon Poor—have some Japoniste flavor more or less—Monet Kifner’s is a collage mixed media portrait of a Geisha—but those of two other students—Caleb Sanchez and Jaykob Watson—not really. Portraits that look like mates, framed together, and both with the same title, Reciprocal Talent. Portraits of each other maybe.
Grabiarz school teacher Jan Dylewski has an oil on canvas shady streetscape. Student Julian Ross ups the ante. He has a whole cityscape—the piece is entitled City of Julian Ross—in colored pencil. A bird’s-eye-view of an urban network with various types of interconnection lines, it looks like, maybe power transmission lines, maybe phone lines, maybe streets. As much symbolic as actual interconnectors, it seems.
Cheryl St. George, a teacher at City Honors, has a triptych of multi-depth photos via digital manipulation, reminiscent of the photography of Richard Estes. Her students seem to wrestle with the problem of trying to emulate the multi-dimensionality. Htaw Pakao with a work about racial profiling, with multiple similar but different images in black and white. Clio Jabine with two noirish mysterious drawings of urban scenes at night.
Another City Honors teacher, Becky Moda-Lowinger, has an embroidery fiber art piece seemingly about being or becoming a mother. With a sense of openness to all possibility. Adjacent to a drawing in marker by Isaac Lowinger, a kindergartener at Bennett Park Montessori, seemingly about being a kid. With a similar sense of eager openness to whatever.
Sometimes evidence on the apple and tree proposition is hard to see. Visual and Performing Arts teacher Kerry Chiodo has a sculptural work called Race to the Top. Basically it is—or was—a wooden ladder about ten feet high, but burned, charred, most of the rungs missing, and with small artworks and school items attached, like straight-edge rulers, and the whole wound around with barbed wire. You couldn’t climb it even if the rungs were still there and in good condition. One more thing, stuck onto many of the barbed wire points are numerous wine bottle corks, representing so many bottles of wine, as how, perhaps, for a teacher in the system to deal with the mandates of the latest set of rules and regs. Two of Chiodo’s students—Paige Reed and Emily Baumer—have elegant little plastilina on board relief sculptures of what looks like hanging fabric. Plastilina looks a little like gray peanut butter, smooth not crunchy. Another student, Randall Page, has a pair of ink on paper drawings, Picasso-inspired, or maybe Picasso and Calder.
The teachers and students (and/or kids) show continues through the end of January.
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