Walking on Thin Ice

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Walking on Thin Ice
Curated by: Bruno Mauro

1001 Tennessee St.
(at 20th St.)
San Francisco, CA 94107
January 21st, 2011 - February 18th, 2011
Opening: January 21st, 2011 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Potrero District
Thurs & Fri noon - 5:00 and by appointment
photography, installation, video-art, sculpture


The premise of Walking on Thin Ice is the acknowledgement and celebration, in the face of crisis or great vulnerability, of the transformative and redemptive powers of art making as well as art viewing.

Walking on Thin Ice (WoTI) is a collection of recent drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures, video work and work on paper, by Miguel Arzabe, Leo Bersamina, Kristina Bell DiTullo, Lori Gordon, Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman, Carrie Leeb, Kristina Lewis, Kirk Maxson, Abner Nolan, Sarah Smith, Jennifer Starkweather, and Marie Van Elder; all emerging and established San Francisco Bay Area artists.

Whether through their art processes or sources of inspiration, these artists embrace life in all its fragility, precariousness and transience and all find success through the hope, humor and intimate healing rituals alive in their practices. Their work honors quixotic quests, absurd gestures and quiet contemplation, all aiming at negotiating fragility and revisiting the ordinary through the miraculous moments that their creativity alerts us to.

The symbiotic energy of the busy salon style presentation of WoTI intends to trigger and reveal meanings, symbology, and vitality from one discreet piece to the other. Reverberating and echoing, from one to the other, and on to the viewer. The work of all these artists stand as memento for the way art helps us revive and thrive one step at a time, moving forward.

Interdisciplinary artist Miguel Arzabe, with his new video piece as well as with his landscape night paintings, is involved in a dance between the vulnerable and the beautiful, the absurd and the idealized, fear and strength. The darkness and sardonic power inherent to his work always slowly reveals itself to be benevolent.

With his new series of works on paper, Leo Bersamina keenly observes and captures fleeting moments, evoked here through exquiste drawings of dry seaweed, driftwood, empty shells, all found on local California beaches. He embraces these simple objects' perfection and pays homage to their fragility, giving them life, yet again. They are honored.

With her Bandages series, Kristina Bell DiTullo creates collages about chaotic psychological states with a veil of beauty and order. Using (these culturally ubiquitous) materials that are most associated with accidents in a very controlled manner, she reflects on our shared human experience, transformation and isolation, healing and torment, joy and pain.

Lori Gordon's work investigates the structure and power of belief, creating works that attempt to decipher both humanity's and her own connection with the universe. The piece in this exhibition - a simple instruction she is passing along - invites the viewer to self-heal. Much of Gordon's work takes place outside of galleries where she delights in hijacking moments in a normal day by making the ineffable visible and the journey more important than the destination.

The Photos of the "I-140" are empowering mementos of the collaborating artists, Nomi Talisman and Dee Hibbert-Jones, a committed couple's fight to keep Talisman legally in the US. These subversive and poetic photos, from their video piece "I-140", show the two women on the side of Californian highways, holding hand-made signs describing each step in their long struggle with the US immigration services.

Painter, sculptor and photographer, Carrie Leeb draws her inspiration from the rhythms and patterns found in nature and science. Through her work she offers how to find calmness beyond movement and above all, when faced with chaos or uncertainty, she open doors to the peaceful relief of contemplation.

Kristina Lewis' work brings grace and power to fragility; she uncovers for us the beauty in broken down and abandoned utilitarian objects; here black umbrellas. By doing so Lewis offers through elegant and disturbing sculptures, a more open pattern to the over structured human experience, guiding us to a more attentive thinking process.

The installation by Kirk Maxson is created of butterfly shaped cutouts from US magazines of photos depicting past and recent American wars. This fluttery, seemingly soft, appeal stands as a soothing and maybe even amourous embrace to the hardship of the soldiers, as well as a reminder of the hypocritical and coded messages that the media offer us in regard to love and war.

Abner Nolan
’s photographs are produced from found negatives made throughout the United States during the middle part of the 20th century. Nolan explores the hidden or

forgotten narratives and how the photograph itself serves to archive and incite memory.

Sarah Smith's drawings and cut wood assemblages are hazy portals to moments of instant nostalgia. Her mythical landscapes and her sick, dying or dead animals allude to our era of loss and and the toll that humans have put on the natural world. A natural world that within her work becomes indeed as it should be, our most treasured of treasures.

With her detailed atmospheric work on paper Jennifer Starkweather crosses the tenuous boundaries between the real and the imagined. Her mark-making follows an internal shift from the external and concrete to a more intuitive realm, where she is able to act out peacefully her own diversions, dreams and memories.

Marie Van Elder applies a romantic and painterly touch to her delicate series of works on canvas of ominous, potentially catastrophic moments. Initially captured and disseminated by the media Van Elder recaptures these images so as to be tamed and offered as peaceful instances of contemplation and rêverie.