Arts & Culture

SLO Museum of Art exhibit brings together two divergent artists

Jarred Pfeiffer teaches ceramics at Cuesta College. His piece ‘Cluster’ is part of the ‘Synergy’ show.
Jarred Pfeiffer teaches ceramics at Cuesta College. His piece ‘Cluster’ is part of the ‘Synergy’ show.

One of my friends in college, a math major, became so animated describing fractals that I never forgot the word. It was as if he were talking about Love and Rockets or another of our favorite bands.

When I heard that the current exhibit at San Luis Obispo Museum of Art had something to do with fractals I was intrigued for old times’ sake if nothing else. But the real draw was that the ceramic artist promising to “sculpt the mathematical principles of the Pythagorean theorem and fractals” is one of Cuesta College’s art faculty. In my job at Cuesta I generally deal with the administrative side of things in the liberal arts world so it’s extra fun to see the faculty involved in visual and performing arts show their stuff.

Jarred Pfeiffer teaches ceramics at the college and used a variety of techniques to create sculptures and platters for his “monuments to math.” Fractals, by the way, refer to repeating patterns. Cheerios in a bowl don’t look very fractal-ish, but the collection of stark white O’s that Pfeiffer has made and displayed on the gallery wall do.

His colorful platters are lovely on their own but together carry out the theme.

Exhibition director Ruta Saliklis suggested pairing Pfeiffer’s work with painting and sculpture by Los Angeles area artist Menthe Wells. She says her work is rooted in synesthesia, which coincidentally another friend has talked animatedly about in terms of seeing words in colors and such. I especially liked Wells’ steel sculptures.

Also on display at SLOMA is Pennsylvania artist Michele Byrne’s outdoor scenes of San Luis Obispo County from surfers in South County to Banjer Dan playing at Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant in Morro Bay. It’s no surprise that she won the People’s Choice Award at the Plein Air Painting Festival in 2011. She created the 12 new oil paintings for “The Art of Conversation” exhibit while visiting this spring.

If you’ve got children or grandkids to keep busy this summer, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art has “artrageous” summer camps for ages 5 through teen starting June 16 and going into August. Printmaking with Barbara Rosenthal sounds like a winner. So does Arts of Spain. And would you believe “fractal designs” is on the agenda? If your young family members like tie-dying T-shirts, the myriad of offerings will blow their minds.

Go to for the full scoop. Scholarships are available.

Contact freelance writer Monica Fiscalini at