First Friday: Simple shapes, exotic jewelry and 'illegal art' on display

Posted: Thursday, August 04, 2005

Juneau artist David Riccio has been exploring stream images for the last six years. Some works start as doodles. Others begin as zinc-plate etchings. A few have evolved out of simple acrylic paintings.

All of them are made from intentionally simple shapes and marks, with riffs and variations on those original forms.

"They all center around this kind of feeling of what you see when you look down on a stream or think about streams," Riccio said.

His latest stream mini-retrospective, "Stream Dreams 2005," opens at KTOO from 4:30-7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 5, as part of the First Friday art walk. The show will be up through the month.

"I've gotten to where the rocks and streams are very stylized and abstracted," Riccio said. "If you've seen some of the Aboriginal paintings from Australia with the dots and line, some are very much like that. They're basically hard lines and dots, and lots of bright color use."

One of the paintings in the series, "Salmon Stream Dreams No. 2," started out as a blue and white etching of dead salmon lying on rocks in a creek in late summer.

"The dead salmon on the rocks in varying states of decay, it's so Southeast, it struck me that I should be doing something like that," Riccio said. "Off and on, I've been making pieces that are like that on the same theme."

Riccio, co-owner of Atelier Inc. and a member of Juneau Artists Gallery, will have 35 to 40 pieces in the show. The exhibition includes etchings, paintings, silk paintings, mixed media and digital prints, most of which measure between 8 and 10 inches, but a few that stretch between 20 and 30 inches.

• HERITAGE COFFEE, 216 Second St.: Juneau artist Elise Tomlinson intended her new show, "Alaskan Blue Grasses," to open in April, days before the Alaska Folk Festival.

"A lot of folk instruments have shapes that are similar to other shapes I use in my landscapes and figurative work, plus I'm a huge folk music fan and closet musician myself so it seemed like a perfect fit," she said.

Her plans changed when her venue, The Friendly Planet, closed because of downtown construction. Tomlinson decided, in turn, to take a year from exhibiting. But her plans changed again when she saw Sue Kraft's June exhibit at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council.

"She just had a bunch of paintings of different things that she thought were interesting but didn't seem to fall into any particular theme ... and I loved it," Tomlinson said. "I wanted to free myself of the pressure of the theme show and paint anything I happened to feel like painting at any given moment."

Tomlinson went back to work. One painting, a woman playing a harmonica, turned into a woman napping with her cat. Another, three women playing dobro, bass and accordion, morphed into a woman flying a kite with her dogs. The collection also includes shots of the pump house at Sandy Beach, the Mendenhall Wetlands, a diptych of downtown Juneau, a view toward Mayflower Island.

This will be the arts council's first show at the Heritage Coffee space.

• JUNEAU ARTISTS GALLERY, 175 S. Franklin St.: Self-taught artist and lifelong Juneau resident Ella Johnson-Bentley has had her beading creations appear in books, magazines and shows across the country, but this weekend marks her first appearance at a First Friday.

Johnson-Bentley, a member of the Juneau Artists Gallery for the last 10 years, has prepared nine pieces in the last two weeks based on the theme "of all things earth and earthly." Most look like they would take weeks to complete. But the first in the series, a combination of brown and black dagger beads called "The Everglades," was done in 12 to 14 hours.

"The dagger beads gave me the idea; they look like something that might have been crawling out of the Everglades," Johnson-Bentley said. "I did that one first and then I thought this might work into a nice theme."

She followed with "Basaltic Beauty," a more subtle combination of layered blue and brown beads. Most of the pieces in the show have some combination of brown, black or earth tones.

Johnson-Bentley has won acclaim for her series of boots and shoes made out of beads. All of them measure no more than 4 inches in any dimension. She won first place in the Anchorage show "Arti Gras" for "Hot Shot," a 4-inch-high sculpture of red peppers in a shot glass. "3 Dog Knight," a beaded knight in armor with his dogs, won judges' choice and toured the country for two years in a show called "Embellishments."

Johnson-Bentley also will show new samples of her purse jewelry, created from torch work beads.

• JUNEAU ARTS AND HUMANITIES COUNCIL, 206 N. Franklin St.: In conjunction with this weekend's appearance by Kembrew McLeod (see page 3), the arts council has solicited artists to submit works that question the boundaries of legality for its "Illegal Art" show. Other cities across the country have had similar shows, starting with the 2003 "Illegal Art" show in San Francisco, curated by Stay Free! magazine publisher Carrie McLaren.

As of press time Tuesday, the JAHC was still awaiting the bulk of its submissions.

One piece, Lou Logan's "Let Us Upward Thrust 'Til 2019," explores the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which extended copyright protection to the year 2019. Between 1790 and 1978, most works passed into public domain after 32 years. Logan's piece centers on a portly man wearing a shirt with the copyright symbol. He is choking. From behind, an omniscient figure, the public domain, applies the Heimlich maneuver.

Jeff Brown's piece takes a historical image of prospectors hiking up the Chilkoot Trail and places the familiar McDonald's golden arches just over the mountaintop.

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