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Davis, California

Friday, March 1, 2024

Pence Gallery opens new exhibits

As a part of the ARTober festival, a month-long celebration of the arts and humanities in October, Pence Gallery opened three new exhibits. The exhibits’ opening reception will take place this weekend and will include a curator talk with a San Francisco guest curator.

Since 1975, the Pence Gallery’s mission has been to educate and inspire the community by offering high caliber art exhibits by local and regional artists and providing education programs for all ages. Every year, they offer 14,000 visitors free admission to encounter quality exhibits that cater to all ages.

The nonprofit gallery organizes several different exhibitions and events for the community throughout the year. The Pence has planned for three different exhibitions to be on display for the public for this month: “Reality ,” “Magic Lands” and “The Tiny Show.”

“Reality²” will be the largest exhibit this season, presenting an exhibition of Bay Area figurative painters, selected by San Francisco artist and art critic DeWitt Cheng, on view from Oct. 1 through Nov. 10.

On Oct. 11 from 5 to 6 p.m., the gallery will host a curator talk, where guest curator Cheng will give an overview of the “Reality²” exhibit. The free admission includes free wine and food provided by Holly’s Hill Winery. The talk will also be accompanied by a performance of “Dracula,” by the Acme theater company.

This particular exhibit will show the works of six Bay Area figurative painters, Arthur Bell, Mark Bryan, William Harsh, Chris Leib, Pierre Merkl and Michael Kerbow. Their works all display a modern take on pictorial realism, illustrated with imagination and humor in different naturalistic styles.

Natalie Nelson, curator and director of the Pence Gallery, usually chooses the artists for the exhibitions. This time, she invited Cheng to do so, since he is known for his expertise relating to California artists.

“I believe the Pence Gallery’s mission is to highlight local California art. We try to represent really good art that may not have had a lot of exposure. We like what is a little off the mainstream and what shows a different side of the art world. I think ARTober is the perfect time to display Cheng’s picks for ‘Reality²,’ as all the pieces are very different, quirky and thought-provoking,” Nelson said.

DeWitt Cheng is a well-known sedulous art critic and artist from San Francisco, known as a kind of “ombudsman” for Bay Area visual art. He acts somewhat as a catalyst for curators, suggesting names of artists, or helping to put artists’ work in perspective for the art audience.

“I had run across the work of these artists in various places over the years, from Open Studio to the internet, and believed that their work deserved more exposure. ‘Reality²’ focuses on surreally imaginative figurative painting as a vehicle for social and political satire, but there are others, of course, whose work would be perfect for other themes,” Cheng said.

For example, artist Michael Kerbow chooses to depict modern landscapes, like in his painting “Means to an End,” which shows an everyday landscape view, of a freeway running through a busy city, but with an ominous tone.

“These artists are doing something totally different with reality. When you think of realism, one normally thinks of the 19th century. But these guys incorporate a naturalistic style that embodies realism in a completely different way,” Nelson said.

Another show on display at the Pence Gallery for ARTober is “Magic Lands,” which displays the art of Cynthia Martin Kroener, on view from Sept. 28 through Nov. 3.

Some of Kroeners works include depictions of the alpines around Lake Tahoe and the Sahara desert. Kroeners said her travels serve as inspiration in her art.

“I love color. I love travel. And I try to convey both these loves of mine in the art I create. I’m having fun. That’s all that matters,” Kroener said .

On Oct. 11, from 6 to 9 p.m., the opening reception will allow guests to meet the artist and view the exhibit. All the exhibits on display for ARTober will only be displayed throughout the month of October. For more information, visit pencegallery.org.


LARISSA MURRAY can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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