“Art for Art’s Sake”: popUp Gallery @ Autobody Fine Art

“Art for Art’s Sake”: popUp Gallery @ Autobody Fine Art

Michael Singman-Aste
Photo by Michael Singman-Aste

No doubt about it, this is a tough time to be an artist. The extended recession is drastically limiting would-be patrons’ disposable income, and forcing some galleries out of business. Autobody Fine Art was one of these. In February 2011 they ceased hosting exhibits on a regular basis, and converted much of its space into artist studios.

With fewer galleries, emerging artists are having a harder time finding shows and, when they do, often hand upwards of 50 percent of their sale to the gallery as commission. Artists themselves, Gabriele Bungardt and Mi'Chelle Fredrick are all too familiar with these challenges. So they approached Jacqueline Cooper of Autobody Fine Art about renting her gallery space a month at a time when not in use. They call their venture popUp Gallery.

The artists pay no entry fee, and the gallery collects no commission. The artists are merely expected to donate 20 percent of their sale to any art-related charity. How cool is that? “It's kind of our way to pay back, to give artists an opportunity to show,” Bungardt said.

Although they may consider posting calls for art in the future, for their first show they contacted a few other Bay Area artists with whom they were already familiar. “We were very selective with this first one,” Fredrick said. “Still Life: A New Point of View” opened with a reception at the gallery on July 6, and their selectiveness paid off with a show of very high caliber.

In addition to Fredrick’s drawings and watercolors, and Bungardt’s acrylic paintings — the still lifes a dramatic departure from the latter’s usual canine subject matter — they were joined by five other artists working in various media.

Chris Tedesco’s work is some of the most enjoyable and entertaining glass art you could imagine. He fashions handbags in a variety of colors, as well as a three-foot high broom. Break out your hanky for “Come to Me My Melancollie [sic],” a tribute to his dearly departed shop dog, Sid.

Dan Granett is an engineer as well as a photographer, and his photos are as much science as art. He shoots super closeups, of a weevil perched atop a watch mechanism, or a piranha munching a dollar bill, for example. To get every millimeter in sharp focus, he uses special software to perform “focus stacking,” a technique which combines dozens of shots taken at various focus distances into a single composite image. You can get your geek on marveling at this advancement in optics, or simply enjoy the beauty of the finished product.

Sue Averell’s paintings are over the edge and over the top, and that’s how she titles them. Her botanical series is a riot of color, the layers of acrylic rising a good inch off the canvas. The artist is having far too much fun painting, and her unrestrained joy is infectious.

Because “still life painting” usually conjures images of vases and fruit baskets, Elizabeth Zanzinger’s paintings are a breath of fresh air. Her oils on linen capture a Macintosh (the computer, not the fruit) and its equally antiquated three-and-a-half inch diskettes, or a discarded cathode ray tube. These memento mori for the 21st century are nearly photorealistic, and just plain fun.

There is much variety in the show, and Ken Draizen’s steel sculptures dotting the landscape help tie it all together. They demonstrate a wild symmetry and unlikely balance and are particularly remarkable considering this is the artist’s first exhibition.

Working around Autobody’s exhibition schedule, popUp’s next show is tentatively scheduled for November. It’s a good thing they have some lead time, because with “Still Life” they’ve set the bar pretty high.

“Still Life: A New Point of View” runs through the end of July. Receptions will be held this Friday, July 13 and on Friday, July 27 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. They are also open Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment. popUp Gallery is located at Autobody Fine Art, 1517 Park Street. The facility is not wheelchair accessible.

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