Contemporary art challenges the classics

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Sarah Jane O’Keefe -- Whitney Jarboe explores the “Eretai” and “In Print” exhibits at the Riverside Art Museum.

The Riverside Art Museum opened its doors to curious viewers with “Eretai” and “In Print” on Thurs., Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. Youthful splashes of colors of the rainbow seamlessly meld alongside massive metal construction tools in the exhibition’s structured layout.

Art goers walked through the “Eretai” displays, pausing in pods of three or four to chat and sip drinks. “Eretai” features the works of New York-based contemporary artists David Babinowitch, John Beech, Lael Marshall and Michael Voss.

The puzzle paintings, splattered wood scraps, soap and quilt collages surprise and point to structure and form.

Eretai’s artistic intent proposes “a resolve to forge new paths within the ever-evolving contexts of contemporary abstract painting and sculptures,” Kathryn Poindexter, curator, said.

Though the artists use different materials to convey their artistry, they all show “tangible relationships to minimalism, abstract expressionism and post modernism,” Poindexter said.

Artist Michael Voss said, “A mark of art arises not from a platform of technical dexterity but from a space where the unknown is extolled. It is here that works of art create themselves … the goal is to bring together the simultaneous existence of outer world and inner life.”

Amy Van Egmond, graphic design major, attended and believes art can be born out of free expression and having fun. She said one does not have to like a piece to appreciate it.

“By knowing about different art movements you can have a better appreciation of art,” Van Egmond said.

Attending the exhibits reaffirmed Van Egmond’s love of art and her decision to pursue her artistic talents through graphic design.

Van Egmond desires her passion for drawing and other interests to be relevant and useful in her career. Being a graphic design major allows her to embrace her creative expression in a modern context.

Like the Eretai exhibition itself, Van Egmond seeks to reintroduce the beauty of art into a rapidly-evolving medium of expression – graphic design.

In particular, the “In Print” exhibit inspires Van Egmond. “In Print” highlights RAM’s various pieces from the permanent collection depicted in print form. Variety ranges from 16th century engravings to contemporary sculptural pieces.

The unique aspect of the exhibit centered around an internship project in which six local creative writing and English major students were asked to respond to a piece of art through a short story or poem. The interns entertained a packed room of onlookers by reading their original responses to the artwork. Van Egmond was moved by the exhibition.

“The poetry and narratives really brought the pictures to life! This exhibit is an excellent example of how images are still affecting people by provoking feelings and thoughts,” Van Egmond said.

According to Justyne Marin, creative writing intern from La Sierra University, it took a while to determine what she would write in response to the art. After brainstorming, she imagined a complete story in response to the piece featuring a young boy running away from home.

Marin said this project confirmed how much she loves art and sees her interest in graphic design as a perfect marriage between artistry and creative vision. Being a graphic artist “enhances [her] ability to expand in the industry,” Marin said.

Following the poetry and short-story reading, Margaret Mathews-Berenson, curator and intern director, invited those in attendance to study art in the same way the interns had. She said one should try to see the words and drama caught in the print pictures.

To close the evening, “Eretai” artists convened for a formal introduction as well as a question and answer period hosted by Poindexter.

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