Arts & Culture

Art with a message at exhibits around SLO County

Photographer Skip Moss explored people living in the Himalayas.
Photographer Skip Moss explored people living in the Himalayas.

Visual artists are taking their brushes, cameras and sculpting hands to create messages for their audiences that go beyond aesthetics.

Consider the show at the Atascadero Library, which features nine artists’ interpretations of the controversial topic of climate change.

Atascadero Library’s librarian Joe Laurenzi, who envisions the library as a place for the community to gather and discuss issues, is putting that philosophy into practice with a thematic art display on climate change. It’s part of the library’s exploration of climate change during October and November; discussions and movies are also scheduled.

Cheryl Strahl shows several of her glacier photographs, including one dramatic image of glacial calving — where chunks of ice break apart from the main glacier, producing icebergs.

“The blue glacial ice is beautiful to see and to capture in a photograph,” Strahl said. “But, at the same time, we have to realize that these magnificent objects of beauty come from glaciers that are melting at an alarming rate. I hope my images help people stop and think.”

The Atascadero exhibit includes artists George Asdel, Pat Cairns, Helen Davie, Janice Pluma, Kabe Russell, Claudia Sargent, Susan Schafer, John Shankle and Strahl.

Another show, at Linnaea’s Cafe in San Luis Obispo, challenges viewers to ask themselves: Can life be full and meaningful with the reduction of material chaos?

Photographer Skip Moss answers that question with a quiet, “Yes,” in his show, ‘Time in Nepal Simply Passes.’ His images explore the mountains, culture, and landscape of the high Himalayas.

“I went there for the mountains and came back with the people,” Moss said. “What I discovered is that they appear to have nothing — they’re living off the land but were still really generous with what they had. I could feel their connection to their way of life 100 percent. Through these images, I want to convey the gentleness and peacefulness of their society and how open they are to people. The idea I’d like to have for all these people who see the photos is that, you can have a really wonderful, comfortable life without all the trimmings.”

A third show, Abstract Realities, is simply evocative.

“I go out of my way not to be social, political or sexual,” said sculptor and photographer Bruce Miller. “When you think about art, the art that usually has the greatest impact to the viewer is the art that has opened up an alternative reality. The artist is showing the viewer something they haven’t seen presented in that way. It ex pands the consciousness.”

In one of his pieces at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, the viewer will see a collage of color that, upon closer inspection, consists of brightly colored children’s cereals. That’s what Miller is talking about — taking the everyday and reconstructing it into something surprising.