Los Osos glass artist George Jercich is very much aware of the notion of thinking outside the box. And if the box is a symbol for what is known and accepted, then how does the human brain reach beyond its boundaries and urge others to follow?
“Any time a pioneer takes a risk (or) goes past the known into the unknown that’s a step outside (of) where everyone’s comfort level exists,” Jercich said. “As an artist, you want to bring your viewers along with you. You either do that, or you crash. That’s the risk.”
Jercich tested his audience in a recent show at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, a multiple-acre dry garden site with succulents, cacti and other low-water plants. His pieces on display included glass cacti, which he called “Drought-Tolerant Cacti.”
“They’re drought-tolerant cacti because, of course, they’re made out of glass so they don’t ever need water, and some people got it, and other people didn’t,” he said. “But art, I think, should challenge us. It should go beyond the limit of what we accept or what we think we know.
“There are some people who actually get engaged by those kinds of questions, ‘These are interesting objects. What does it mean that they’re made in this way? Why are they here?’ “
Jercich challenged his audience further in March with his joint show with Los Osos sculptor Ron Roundy at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, “Overhead, Underfoot and In your Face.” The exhibition featured a collection of 14 glass noses by Jercich, all cast from models living on the Central Coast.
Jercich’s inspiration for the noses came from a Yoko Ono quote: “Can you imagine a body having passed through a wall where only its hair was left?”
“As I thought about that — the dematerialization, the remnants of the body had passed through a barrier into another space — I thought, ‘Wow. That’s fascinating. How would I be able to do that?’ “ Jercich said.
He decided on casting noses because noses and chins are the first parts of the body to enter a room. He created 57 glass noses in total, hoping that viewers would imagine the rest of their bodies following behind them.
Now he’s evolving that project into “Nose Cones,” which features those same noses embedded into a large traffic-like cone inverted with the wide part of the cone at the top.
Jercich described his concept as “a hazard to the road — a head.”
Jercich spends much of his time on the water kayaking and fishing, and the sea inspires much of his art. A number of his pieces involve aquatic animals and plants.
In fact, Jercich is planning a piece that will replicate a rockfish in blown glass.
“People don’t think the rockfish is beautiful, but it’s beautiful to me,” he said with a laugh.
Another of Jercich’s pieces was created in memory of his so-called “weed whipper,” which ceased to function after many years on the job.
“All this stuff is kind of tongue in cheek,” he said, adding that he hopes to engage observers’ imaginations. “That’s what I’m trying to do, to learn from the process what it’s starting to reveal. That’s how you grow. You seek something that no one else is after.”