There’s a new student art club at Cuesta College, and going by the group’s first exhibit, its membership is slim yet talented.
The art club’s new show features two- and three-dimensional works depicting, well, clubs—like what cave trolls carry around. Curated by the group’s advisor, David Prochaska, “The Club” is on display in the beautiful and woefully underused Cuesta College Art Gallery through Dec. 21.
One of the first pieces to catch the eye is Nicole Anderson’s large-scale, untitled oil painting, a work that’s at once intense and eerie. Pale, anemic-looking figures walk dumbly through a city of imposing, impossibly high towers, which stretch forebodingly toward a dirty-looking sky. Through the depressing, dystopian scene runs an enormous, muscled man, his skin flushed a revolutionary red. Seeming to break free of the nearly monochromatic society, he lunges toward the viewer, brandishing a hefty-looking club. Whether he’s a hero or an aggressor is up to interpretation.
One of the beautiful things about the community college is its cross-section of age and experience. Some artists represented in “The Club,” such as Emily Emanuel, whom I met at the show’s opening, have grown children of their own. Among Emanuel’s contributions is an illuminated box containing MRI images of her daughter’s brain—a brain afflicted, the artist explained, with MS. The work’s title and the image of a club on the outside of the box say it all: Beat MS.
(Emanuel’s more humorous pieces include a club made of leather, which, lying on a pedestal beside two well-placed stones, can be understood as an abstract and rather deflated representation of male genitalia. It’s called Limp.)
Father and son duo Steve and Nick Dison created the sculptures of clubs that lie poignantly on the floor, side by side. They’re ceramic pieces, but a glaze makes them appear to consist of rusted metal. The pieces interact nicely with the rusty, found-object look of Nate Holben’s sculptures, which re-contextualize and re-construct everyday tools to depict a hand gripping a club.
For its spare appearance, the exhibit offers a good deal of work to take in. For Cuesta students with an interest in art, the show is an inspiring and encouraging look at what their fellow Cougars are doing. For the rest of us, it’s just a shame that Cuesta’s art gallery is, you know, way out at Cuesta, currently open by appointment only (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org), and requiring the purchase of a parking pass. The show likely won’t get the community exposure it deserves. But as a milestone for the newly formed art club, it’s a promise of wonderful things yet to come.