GLAMFA 2011 – The Kids Are Not Alright
Now in its seventh year, GLAMFA and the attached Open Studios, has been a yearly event organized by CSULB graduate students to showcase new work by both CSULB students as well as a chosen few from other local graduate MFA programs including California Institute of the Arts, Claremont Graduate University and UCI. If the 2011 GLAMFA exhibition is supposed to act as an indicator of what our local bright young things are up to, the kids are not alright.
This year’s event featured nearly 30 artists spread out through CSULB’s art department galleries; with that many artists I was hopeful that there might be a surprise to be found or an emerging theme to be uncovered. Well no surprises were to be found in the main galleries and if there was any theme developing it might have been, ‘painting is dead…so is video, sculpture and installation.” The painting in this show, what little was presented, was mediocre at best. Travis Novak’s Coyote piece is eye catching at first, but is too reminiscent of a brightly colored, low budget, Eric Swenson piece. Alexis Jimenez’s resin Twinkies, meant to be a statement on excessive consumption, is a one liner and only adds to the consumption. The strongest piece in the main galleries comes from photographer Daney Saylor who’s image Telegraph features a series of construction gravel piles in the foreground with a snow capped mountain range in the background, a meditation on impermanence perhaps.
It wasn’t until I left the main galleries and began to explore the open studios that the surprises began to come. The strongest work on campus was found in the MFA Photography studios and was produced by Lisa Talbot. Talbot’s created landscapes sculpted from debris, then shot against orchestrated backgrounds, are scary beautiful. Next up was the printmaking studios were I discovered Nicole Spranger and her series of circus characters whom would be right at home in a Tom Waits song. The final surprise came from the metals department where Patricia Rangel’s work was tucked away in a far off corner. Rangel constructs Victorian hair mourning jewelry that held narratives on bereavement and reconciliation. Rangel’s hand held mirrors that consisted of miniature maps of her home town cemetery, dirt, and exploding layers of fabric, were her strongest pieces.
Maybe finding the strongest work of the show hidden in the art department studios, away from the bright lights, could be a useful metaphor for the artist’s who were featured in the main galleries; it’s time to get back to work.