Archives at the Art Ark

By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

The current exhibition at the Art Ark Gallery, entitled Archives, is simply another way of saying works from the studios of selected artists. But this is just what the Art Ark Gallery does so well. It gives a forum for artists from the Martha Gardens art community that includes the artists of the Art Ark Residence itself, Citadel Cannery studios and others that live in the community around the SJSU School of Art foundry. It is rewarding to see that Martha Gardens has a rich core of artists that always have new work to show and to see new artists getting involved all the time. Here are some highlights:


Can You Live in a Cube?, 2008, by Ema Harris Sintamarian

Ema Sintamarian’s, Can You Live in a Cube?, an enormous ink on paper drawing of floating parallelograms through which are seen textures and myriad small images is an overwhelming viewing experience. It is possible to spend hours getting lost in the details of her colorful and unending lines.


Michael Buscemi’s Day, Oil on canvas, 2000

Equally massive yet profoundly different in its effects on the viewer is Michael Buscemi’s Day. This painting is meditative and almost completely abstract, yet I somehow assume I am drawn into a landscape obscured by clouds. The soft-focus greens and blues, accompanied by flickering warm spots of light are elegant and to some, perhaps, spiritual.


Love in the Dark, Monotype, 2010, by Jason Adkins

Jason Adkin’s monotype, Love in the Dark, contains a lot of his characteristic mark making, but the forms seems to describe a single moment in an aquarium or deep sea mating ritual. I am accustomed to his pastel, gestural paintings that incorporate seemingly more complex layers of organic forms piled one on top of the other, and frequently intertwined with some comical objects. This black and white image with touches of blue is elegant in its simplicity.


Untitled, ink on durlex, 2009 drawing by Erik Friedman

The intricate drawings of Erik Friedman, done with ink on duralex, are a fascinating maze of delicate spider-web-like lines that come together to depict taught industrial structures. In the three cropped views of a ferris wheel featured in this Untitled work, Friedman uses a little black, grays and blues. The drawing is relatively large and seems to address the scale of a giant ferris wheel along with the excitement of a cluster of carnival rides. I can feel the adrenaline and a desire to ascend to the sky.


Ryan Carrington’s performance, The Value of Labor, 2010, at the Art Ark

Ryan Carrington performed The Value of Labor with concrete cones during the opening. Looking every bit the project manager, corporate and unsympathetic, he periodically moved the cones from one site and configuration to the next. In between, he entered data into his graphs. He left me wondering if those who don’t really perform labor are blind to its importance and role in the larger scheme of things. Or is the mechanization of every job just inevitable in a capitalistic system?


Fanny Retsek’s Less than 100 Toads, 2010 (Detail)

Fanny Retsek also presented a politically charged statement in her Less Than 100 Toads. Knowing that toads are weather vanes of a deteriorating environment, Retsek’s vacant cut-outs of the profiles of toads in various postures are quite powerful. She continues to make counting marks — hashmarks like a prisoner makes on the cell wall — on her paper, noting perhaps the number a given species left, or the number lost on any given day.

There are many other good works by promising younger and emerging artists in this show, making it worth a visit. As the Art Ark Gallery is an all volunteer operation, there are no regular hours. Contact Gallery Coordinator Valerie Raps for a viewing appointment.


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