As a follow-up to 2006’s Flatlanders exhibition, which presented the work of 46 artists residing in the Davis, Woodland and Sacramento areas, the Nelson Gallery is presenting its second biennial installment, Flatlanders 2.
The exhibition will include the work of around 20 local artists, with works generally made in the last two years by residents of the region.
Renny Pritikin, curator of the exhibit and director of the Nelson Gallery, said they choose the term “flatlanders” to refer to the residents of the relatively flat terrain of the Davis, Woodland and Sacramento areas.
Pritikin decided not to include any of the same artists used in 2006’s exhibition, giving newer artists and those he missed the last time a chance to shine.
“We made a decision that it would be good to not repeat myself,” Pritikin said. “I used half as many artists this time, and maybe in two years or so I’ll start using some of the same people again.”
Despite the challenge of having to find a whole new set of artists for this year’s exhibit, he said that he was pleasantly surprised by the level of talent and diversity he found in the regional artists he chose.
“Its amazing how much good work there is in the area,” Pritikin said. “It’s really a healthy artistic community.”
Senior art history major and Nelson Gallery intern Kelly Schantz agreed – before she started helping with this year’s exhibition she said she had no idea how much diversity and talent there was in the area.
“People think the hot spots are all in New York and Los Angeles, but that’s not the case necessarily,” Schantz said. “It’s amazing. I feel like what we have is a lot more diverse than what you see in a lot of galleries in Davis and Sacramento.”
Schantz attributes this diversity to the fact that many private galleries have somewhat different goals than a university gallery like the Nelson.
“While a lot of galleries tend to choose art that is highly marketable, I think that the Nelson Gallery has the freedom to be a bit more edgy,” Schantz said.
Furthermore, this year’s smaller assembly fostered a greater continuity between the artist’s works, Pritikin said.
“This show is a little more focused, it seems to me,” he said. “It’s hard to put into words, but there seems to be an organic integrity to it, in that all the work seems to fit together well, versus last year’s much larger exhibit.”
Pritikin said that he hopes this exhibition and others like it will help bring more community members into the Nelson Gallery.
“It’s a university gallery and some people are hesitant to come because they are not part of the university,” he said. “By showcasing local work we hope to make people in the region feel more inclusive, more connected to the Nelson – it’s important to celebrate what is here.”
Gioia Fonda, an art instructor at Sacramento City College and one of the local artists to be featured in the exhibition, said that she was excited to have her work on display because of Pritikin’s reputable background. She described her set of airbrushed ink and acrylic portraits as “abstract and highly patterned.”
“One of my portraits is about my dental hygienist and the impressions I’ve gotten from her, based on what she’s wearing, talking about, what she says she’s watching on TV,” Fonda said. “My impressions might be false, but it all filters through me and I create a story with it.”
“Another one is showcasing my favorite breakfast cereals growing up and how they have changed over the years, like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms today,” Fonda said. “They are not the same as the ones of my childhood.”
There will be a reception for the artists at 6 p.m. at the Nelson Gallery today. A color catalogue with short essays corresponding to each artist’s work will be available for purchase. For more information, go to nelsongallery.ucdavis.edu.
SONIA PARECADAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.