Upstairs in the Pence Gallery, tranquility kisses the walls but as you move downstairs, the mood drifts like leaves. One floor down, loud colors and a beautiful woman dressed in haute couture fill the lower showroom.
Calm and boisterous fine art debut Tuesday at the Pence Gallery, located at 212 D St. Cultural Dimensions: Art by African American Artists is a rich collection of fine arts from 10 of the most prominent local African American artists in the Sacramento area.
“Upstairs is very tranquil,“ said Eileen Hendren, assistant director of the Pence Gallery. “It feels like a dream sequence and it‘s very calm. Downstairs, there are big bright statements. They are giant images.“
Along with gallery assistant Christopher Beer, Hendren worked to match the many works for the exhibit. According to Hendren, the gallery wanted to find a balance between the different works: The top floor conveys a sense of serenity with its abundance of landscape pieces while the larger works reside downstairs.
“We wanted to give each piece their own breathing area,“ Hendren said.
The Pence Gallery was lured by the depth of local talent and wanted to showcase them in one exhibit. The artists showcased in Cultural Dimensions are John Nesbitt, John King, Corrine Singleton, Gerry Simpson, Milton Bowens, Michael Stevenson, Norma Lamb, Terry Turner, Daniel Frye and Sharaine Bell.
“Normally, you don‘t see all these artists,“ Hendren said. “You might have to go to 10 different galleries but now they are all in one place here.“
Bell graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute, and now makes her home in the heart of the San Francisco art scene in the Mission District. However, the Davis-born artist was excited to have her first showcase in her hometown. Drawing inspiration from her passion for the environment and nature, Bell gets her ideas from the many walks in the city.
“I am inspired by the imbalance of civilization,“ Bell said. “We create an environment that is not always in line with the natural world. We seem to think we can manipulate nature. It doesn‘t work that way. We are doomed to fail unless we adhere to what nature needs.“
Downstairs, Bell will have her painting “Bryant,“ which is composed of four panels to create one large piece. Showcased upstairs is “Twentieth,“ a painting of willow leaves on a white canvas doused with coffee.
Other works include three bronze sculptures from Davis resident Singleton, who has been an art teacher for over 20 years in Citrus Heights. Mixing her love of art with her passion for fashion, she got an early taste for fashion from her childhood and modeled one of her bronze figures after French entertainer Josephine Baker.
The figure of Josephine Baker is conspicuously without facial features –a feature that was a deliberate move on the artist‘s part. Singleton said she hopes to challenge people’s imaginations as they look at her sculptures.
“I don‘t know how she looks,“ Singleton said. “But just use your imagination. You can put someone in the dress. I like anyone with an imagination.“
The exhibit of fine arts will be at the Pence Gallery until Aug. 22. The Pence Gallery is located at 212 D St. A reception will be held Friday at 7 p.m. with a live jazz performance by the local band Lambazz. For more information, go to pencegallery.org.
JACKSON YAN can be reached at email@example.com.