Saturday, July 21, 2012

Art at the California State Fair – Yes, the State Fair

It’s worth an annual trip up to the California State Fair in Sacramento, if only to escape the foggy, July weather in San Francisco.  No one gets out of bed in Sacramento and puts the heat on during the summer.  The state fair brings to mind images of prize winning dairy cows, corndogs and chocolate-dipped cheesecake-on-a-stick – a dessert that is so wrong, but so right.  Most people don’t think of art and state fairs, but the California State Fair is also a great place to see what’s happening in California Art.

There are galleries with traditional, expected crafts like quilts – each one a work of fine art.  One of the expo buildings is always devoted to the Youth Art & Design competition winners.  The quality and promise of the work never fails to impress me.  It’s a reminder that there is a new and very talented crop of artists coming up in California.  The Fine Art juried exhibit is always a treat. 

The first thing you encounter when you walk into the Fine Art exhibit is Dave Lane’s Device for Creating Stars, Model A.  Its glowing orange center has added an element of James Turrell meets steampunk.  I was waiting for it to start vibrating and blast off through the roof.  You can’t go wrong with a giant (yes it’s made out of a lot of sugar) sugar skull, Rob Owens work Mija.  Pam Avery’s Majestic Red was a personal favorite – classic, California abstract work.  Sacramento artist Ianna Nova Frisby has included an installation piece titled Archaeoacoustics.  From the artist’s statement:

“Archaeoacoustics is the exploration of acoustic phenomena encoded in ancient artifacts. For instance, the idea that a pot or vase could be "read" like a gramophone record or phonograph cylinder for messages from the past, sounds encoded into the turning clay as the pot was thrown. Although improbable, the history of such attempts has its own intriguing history.”

Finally, it was great to see a portion of Gong Yuebin’s installation Site 2801 was shown in the gallery.  I saw it twice at the Crocker Museum.  It’s one of the best things being shown anywhere in California this year.  It was also fun watching a boy of about 12 excited about the instrallation and explaining it to his friend.  Later I noticed him in another part of the show explaining the art.  It’s easy to tell a kid who has seen a lot of art and grown up in museums.

This year’s state fair runs through July 29.  Go on up to Sacramento, have a corndog and see some great art.

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