Strange things have sprouted up in the SLO Botanical Gardens.
It’s all part of the Art Eco show, celebrating the reclaimed and the recycled.
This eighth annual event, which grew from its previous venue at the Frameworks gallery, features nearly 30 artists showing 75 works of art, ranging from humorous to serious.
Most of the artists have integrated natural and reclaimed materials to express how human imagination and the region’s natural landscape reflect each other, according to show curator Sara Egerer of Frameworks, exhibit co-sponsor.
“Art Deco Revival,” a large blue-glazed ceramic work by Renee Bewley, is braced for the outdoors.
At 4-1/2 feet tall, and in five separate pieces, the sculpture is secured with a box-like base with rebar running through to the other portions, each with a small hole to accommodate the metal rod.
Bewley figures that clay qualifies for the show’s intent. “Clay comes from the ground,” she said, and “glazes are ground-up clay and stone,” specifically silica. She is also showing a curved three-piece work titled “Paradise Rakued.” Bewley uses the studio and kilns at Alan Hancock College. Ceramics has become her passion, she said.
Lena Rushing, a painter who explores other media, got into the spirit of things with her “Predator,” the face and shoulders of an owl.
It is made from tiny bones of other animals, found in owl pellets, the pages and front and back cover of a book on serial killers, a large nut, and some watch parts. “I made him a little vest and handkerchief,” said Rushing, with fabric pieces from a scrapbooking friend.
The owl pellet bones took more time than she anticipated, because she had to boil them to remove any meat or fecal matter. Rushing, who credits her archaeologist mother with her fascination with bones, figures owls are sort of serial killers as part of their nature.
Sculptor Matt Hedlund primarily carves the female form in stone or wood. His torso “Bella Nui” from a 500-pound block of carrara marble is in the show, as is an abstract in wood, “Return.” From his steel shop, Hedlund recycled 12-gauge metal plate he had hot galvanized to rust proof his “Donatore.”
Many artists who have not previously been in the exhibit are involved this year.
In addition to the rugged pieces that can withstand the outdoors, less hardy works are displayed in the Oak Glen Pavilion.
For her unique canvases, Mary Velasquez combines paint assemblage on gourds she grows outside her studio. She often incorporates reeds, pine needles, old jewelry or rusty car parts in her designs.
Other protected works include a traditional woven basket, “Qualify,” by Elizabeth Bear. The geometric whirl includes forest bracken for color and distinction.
Some artists have multiple works in the show. Jack Biesek is showing seven pieces for his third year in the exhibit.
Carol Paulsen is a faithful contributor to the exhibit, as is her partner Stephen Plowman. Another artist who always shows is Mary Anne Statler, with her stage-like assemblages in open boxes. Glass artist George Jercich also explores other media, such as his “Crow Bar.”
A percentage of the proceeds benefit the garden.