“Cautionary Tales Reconsidered,” sculptor Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor and painter Livia C. Stein
Sanchez Art Center is proud to present the sculptures of Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor and the paintings of Livia C. Stein in “Cautionary Tales Reconsidered,” opening Friday, January 10 with a reception from 7 to 9 pm. It is a “reconsideration” of their joint exhibit at The Transmission Gallery that was titled “Cautionary Tales,” December 7, 2012–January 19, 2013. Cameron Brian and Ruth Santee, owners/directors of The Transmission Gallery in Oakland, are curating the Sanchez Art Center exhibition as well. Their “reconsideration” of the same theme promises to be thought-provoking, inspiring, and possibly unsettling—in a good way. The curators will join artist Livia Stein to give a talk about the exhibit at 4 pm on Sunday, February 9.
Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor uses discarded materials, including bed sheets and blankets from thrift stores, old boxes, and all kinds of connecting substances and hardware, including, for instance, glue, paint, and drywall screws, to create large figures that manage to be both endearing and troubling. The artist says she is fascinated with “the undernoticed yet overwhelming, the marginal yet monumental.” Her larger-than-life-sized figures reach into your heart with their kind of pitiful, ragged appearance, while at the same time making you feel slightly threatened by their size and unpredictability.
O’Connor earned her MFA from University of California at Davis and currently teaches at Sierra College in Rocklin, California. She has exhibited at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art, the Torrance Art Museum, the de Saisset Museum in Santa Clara, and the Kohler Company Space in Kohler, Wisconsin. Her work has been reviewed in numerous publications including Artforum, LA Weekly, ArtWeek, Artillery, and Beautiful Decay.
Painter Livia C. Stein’s artworks are a perfect complement to O’Connor’s mixed-media sculptures. Stein works with oils as well as painting with ink, does pastel and charcoal drawing, printmaking (monotypes), and uses mixed media, and clay. In “Cautionary Tales Reconsidered,” brilliant colors predominate in her paintings and drawings, yet there is also a delicacy of line that adds nuance and texture. Stein’s oil painting “Orange Crocodile Interacts with Man’s Nose” brings in the animal element often found in cautionary tales, and a sense of confrontation and not knowing what will happen next. Stein says of her process that it’s “like jumping off a cliff but gradually knowing one has the skills to land softly and surely. The experience of jumping and doing the work is what matters.”
Stein received her MA from San Francisco State in an innovative experimental art program, founded by Jock Reynolds, now director of the Yale University Art Gallery. She currently is a faculty member at Dominican University, San Rafael, California. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in many public and private collections, such as the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Oakland Museum of California, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the University of Iowa Art Museum.
Together, the works of O’Connor and Stein tug gently at any habitual presumptions of righteous innocence we may have, and show us that there is always more going on under the surface of life, whether we like it or not.
Running concurrently, in the West Gallery, the Art Guild of Pacifica presents a group show entitled “Wishes Are Dreams.” Members (and non-members) may enter any works that connect, however loosely, to the theme of wishes and dreams. This theme includes anything from simple daydreaming to the archetypal images that occur in “big dreams.”
The East Gallery honors the award winners from the 2013 Fog Fest Photography Contest, which was run again this year by the Sanchez Art Center and judged by previous award winners Alan Grinberg and Edwin Hacking. This year there was no specific theme, but of course you will see some gorgeous ocean and sky, surfing, and all the people and animals that are drawn to the ocean, as well as other subjects. One of my favorites is the amazing shot taken by Marianne Hale of a long-tailed weasel standing straight up in the high grasses near Rockaway Beach, looking like he was as curious about her as she was about him.
All three exhibits open Friday, January 10, with a reception for the artists from 7 to 9 pm. Thereafter the galleries are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 to 5 pm, through the exhibits’ closing day, February 9. Sanchez Art Center is located at 1220 Linda Mar Blvd., Pacifica, California, about 1.5 miles east of Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean. For more information, call 650-355-1894 or visit www.sanchezartcenter.org.