Eight local artists pull inspiration from each other to create a call and response exhibit
Call and response: a play between two people or instruments who feed creatively off of each other, in music or in dance. But what about in art?
For a couple of years now, eight local artists — Anita Cook, AliceAnn Eberman, Jeff Gun, Sally Ishikawa, Mariana Mace, Kerry McFall, James Schupp and Karen Tornow — have presented their own interpretation of a visual call and response, the latest of which is now on display at the Giustina Gallery in the LaSells Stewart Center.
For an exhibit, the artists bring in one piece of their own art that serves as the call — covered in brown wrapping so no one gets an early peek — and passes it on to another artist. Everyone takes home the new call and creates a response piece to it. After 30 days, the original calls are passed along again, and so on until everyone has created a response to each call, resulting in 64 works of art (8 calls and 56 responses). After all of the responses have been created, the pieces are revealed.
Because each artist uses his or her own preferred medium, the pieces vary widely in materials, including glass, textiles, linocuts, paintings, ceramics, digital art, photography, mosaic and mixed that includes glass to fibers to metals.
After their first session, “We had so much fun that we did it again,” Mace said.
This is the group’s fourth year — they started after Gallery Nouveau folded. Previous call and responses have centered on color names or shapes.
This year’s exhibit, “Call It Home,” focuses a little closer to home: Each artist drew the inspiration for their call from a specific section of Corvallis.
“We took a map of Corvallis, and we started at the river and we cut pie-shaped wedges,” Mace said. “We folded those up, put them in a hat and everybody pulled a wedge.”
The pie pieces include sections containing the Willamette and Marys rivers, Dixon Creek, HP and OSU campuses.
According to Kerry McFall, there were a few surprises. For example, she noted that most of the artists weren’t aware that there was actually a lake (Stewart Lake) inside the HP campus — except for James Schupp.
“It was amazing when people totally nailed it,” she said.
“It’s really made us look at Corvallis,” Mace said. “A lot of people said they saw things they’ve never seen before or things that they had thought about going to look at but just never got around to, or looked at things totally different.”
Although none of the artists sees any of the responses until the very end, and each piece is created in a different medium, there is a certain cohesiveness thread that runs through each call.
“One of the things that’s just been so fascinating to us as a group is that very often some little detail of the call will be the thing that sparks three or four people’s response,” Mace said. “Then you get this beautiful playing off of each other because we all kind of zoned in on the same thing.”
The Momiji-en, or Garden of Japansese Maples, call — started by photographer James Schupp — is a prime example. Schupp’s call piece, a three-image photograph depicting maple trees, lily pads and a zen garden, is translated neatly in Sally Ishikawa’s glass lily pads, Karen Tornow’s lily pad-green coat and Mace’s zen garden woven basket.
According to Mace, the inspiration process differs from artist to artist, but her particular response tends to be more reflective.
“I put it (the call) up either in my studio or in my living room and I look at it for a while,” she said. “Sometimes as soon as I look at it I know precisely what I want to do. ... Others times I — and other people — will just start writing random words.”
For their color name calls, Mace pulled purple, which threw her for a bit of a loop.
“I had not been involved with the color purple since the 1970s,” she said.
So she just started writing every thought that came into her head, eventually leading to “Mozart” and “Purple Mountains Majesty,” sparking a connection to the opera, “Queen of the Night,” and purple as a royal color.
The creation process differs from artist to artist as well. Mace noted that some can afford the time to create several responses in a month before settling on one. Others, such as Mace, can only focus on one within the time constraints.
“We’re all different,” she said. “Some of us, like Jeff Gun, who’s a potter, can create maybe six or eight different responses — but he might lose seven of them in the kiln.”
According to Mace, there is a lot of artistic branching out — no one artist sticks solely to their medium of choice.
“All of us have said it pushes us past our blinkers and our boundaries,” she said. “I don’t do all baskets, I don’t do all textile stuff. I have not yet done a painting, but that could happen. ... It really has pushed us all to try something that we would not try if we didn’t have this process and the support of the group saying, ‘Well, why not?’”
“Call It Home” is on display through Oct. 1 at the Giustina Gallery in the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis. The artists host a gallery talk and opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5. For more information, see http://oregonstate.edu/lasells/gallery. •