By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Nancy Sevier’s 2010 Reconfiguring Memories, at the Art Ark, combines piano parts with old slides, a funnel and electric light.

Assemblage is art in spirit of finding, reconfiguring and inventing.  In some senses it is recycling. The first sculptors who dared to gather discards, unconventional and mundane materials and assemble them into art objects and sign their names were audacious and scandalous.  Dubuffet gets credit for coining the term “assemblage”. Duchamp, with his urinal and “ready-mades” found esoteric meanings and puns in his juxtapositions. He was vilified by the academy and became a hero to subsequent generations of artists who embraced his defiance and complex yet extremely personal and secretive projects. Picasso took a couple of found objects and made handsome sculpture with an economy of means.  Joseph Cornell made his historic mark in the context of a collection of forms within a box.  California favorites, Ed Kienholtz and Wallace Berman continued the tradition with everything from large tableaus with narrative to flat collages of collected images.

An installation by Jennifer Jennings Groft, The
Punished Rebels
, features a honeycomb, and bees skewered by straight pins on a  lacy velvet uterus stuffed with human hair.

At the Art Ark in San Jose, Nancy Sevier has gathered a group of  artists who work, as she does, in 3-D assemblage. Their art is delightful and encompasses all the wonderful quirky and surprising possibilities that unrelated objects and materials can present when integrated into a single package.  In this show you will see works by Jody Alexander, Donald r. Anderson, Robert Armstrong, Dianna Cohen, Jamie Dagdigian, Adriana Gonzalez, Jen Groft, Inge Heidrick, Melody Kennedy, Joseph Kohnke, Bob Lamp, Marianne Lettieri, Presley Martin, Victoria May, Greg Mettler, Gary Quinonez, Tom Rebold, Elizabeth Russell, Tim Ryan, Nancy Sevier, Laurel Shackelford, Sherri Weeks, Malcolm Weintraub, and Steve White.  There are a lot of artists in this show, and some have more than one work exhibited, but the works range from medium sized to small.  Every artist is represented by work that does them great credit as both thinkers and craftsmen.

Britannica, by Jamie Dagdigian, 2010

Bird in Bird, by Gary Quinones, 2010

Victoria May’s Throne for the Tyranny of Habit, 2004, hobbles toward the viewer.

Presley Martin’s ABC Field Guide is a collection of chewing gum mounted on insect pins

This group of artists hails mainly from the Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz area, and many of them graduated from the MFA program at San Jose State.  Some are still in the program. The influence of respected artist and veteran Professor Tony May, a master of the art of careful construction and reconstruction of unlikely materials, is evident in many of his former students.  There is an undercurrent of wry humor and dark humor in many pieces, and the requisite pun, here and there.  Many works suggest the eccentric lives of their makers.  Still other works in this exhibition break out into the area of political causes, feminism, obsessive collecting, simple formal reconfigurations and digital tinkering.

Collector Ray Ashley found a kindred spirit in the work of Dianna Cohen whose 2003 Mariposa is constructed of thread and colorful plastic bags.  In the foregroud is Laurel Shackelford’s  2008 Working Woman, made of a bucket and steel wool mesh.

The gallery will be open Sat., Oct. 16th, from noon – 4:00 and a closing reception on Friday, Oct. 29th, 5 – 8:00p.m.  Otherwise, Modified, must be viewed by appointment. Contact Nancy Sevier at

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