Just because it’s between winter and summer and the Cuesta College Gallery show is a student exhibit doesn’t mean the artists are spring chickens.
At least that’s what Cuesta’s marketing coordinator Jay Thompson observed as he guided a visitor through the juried works recently. Best of Show winner Steven Dison, of Los Osos, is 63.
Dison took the top honor in ceramics for his “Beep Beep,” a roadrunner atop five boxes, each with a circle and arrow containing a diagonal line to indicate “no” for such activities as turning, walking, running.
“I saw the humor in it,” Dison said. “You can’t stop, you can’t go forward. What can you do?”
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The entire construction stands about 7 feet high and comes apart, so the boxes can be arranged in various ways, even used as containers, as each has its own lid, Dison said.
Dison tried ceramics after he left the military in the early 1970s, but didn’t return to the medium until a couple of years ago, at his wife’s suggestion. She was taking a class and thought he’d enjoy it.
He’s been a commercial diver, a crane operator, a “jack of all trades,” said Dison. The class serves as therapy for him, he said, with his classmates’ encouragement. “We all teach each other new things.”
It’s also therapy for Tom Martini, aceramicist for 10 years, who holds an associate of arts degree in criminal justice. His Best of Sculpture, “George,” is the head of a character with a deer antler protruding from its scalp, a mouthful of craggy teeth formed of soft sculpture clay. The 45-year-old bachelor spent his life on a Turri Road ranch until he moved to San Luis Obispo last year.
Martini praises the Cuesta instructors. “They push you over the edge to get your imagination going,” he said.
Now 41, Wayne Velte, who took Best of 2D for his ink and brush “The Art of Keeping a Secret,” gave up his secure job with an auto dealership in Thousand Oaks last year, and moved with his wife and kids to Morro Bay.
“I just wanted to kind of pursue my talents a little more,” he said. He immersed himself in Cuesta art classes, and wasted no time in exhibiting. “This is the second student show I’ve entered,” he said.
His winning piece was a class assignment to use the death mask of The Unknown Woman of the Seine. A cast of a teenage girl’s face was made and reproduced after her body was pulled from the Seine River in France in the 1880s. She captured the heart of all who observed her beauty and beatific smile.
By painting her with her lips sewn together, Velte indicated that the reason for her smile, and the motivation of her probable suicide, will remain unknown.
Juror Sky Bergman, chair of Art and Design at Cal Poly, selected the entries and winners.
The winners include Sarah Jorgensen in painting, Raymond Norte in photography, Dane Svenningsen for digital/graphic design and Nathan Tomei for sculpture.
Reach freelance writer Lee Sutter at email@example.com.