Jenny Bloomfield, Johnna Arnold, and JoAnn Ugolini Disclose Their Creative Process

JoAnn Ugolini at Barbara Anderson Gallery, Berkeley 

The creative process is an elusive thing that most write off as either you get it or you don’t. Yet scratch the surface and even the most mysterious artistic decisions are revealed as cogent solutions to deep aesthetic inquiry. Such is the case with these three artists, all of whom currently have art up now in Berkeley.

1. Obi: In this show you juxtopose your collage work with your paintings – how do you reconcile the two modes of working? What are the commonalities, in your mind, between the two?

JoAnn Ugolini: My work is always focused on composition – no matter what medium I’m working in. I was educated in a classical modern painting tradition. To me that means using color or line or shape to move the eye everywhere, in and out, from corner to corner, until it reaches a kind of harmony. When I paint, movement also comes through brush strokes, and the abstract shapes gather and then are interrupted. When I work with collage, the tearing away of paper takes the place of the brush stroke. The tearing is intention and movement. There is also the interference of the expected in collage that occurs by putting together two shapes that seemingly have no relation to one another. It’s the same in painting. Positive and negative space take turns changing places. The composition is allowed to create itself. The movement coalesces on its own.

In Piazza, at Barbara Anderson Gallery (2243 Fifth St., 510-848-3822, BarbaraAndersonGallery.com), runs through April 14.

2. Obi: Do you consider yourself a maker of images at all? Is there an imagined, internal conversation with your viewers      about the nature of the evocation within the picture plane?

Jenny Bloomfield: I may consider myself a maker of images within a series called Destination Road. I would like to refer to them specifically. One desire within this series is to connect my fascination with time, experience and memory with other people’s experiences of memory and time. The paintings bring to mind old photographs, and within this emotional common ground, with the artist’s “hand” being somewhat hidden, the viewer is more free to make their own association. The question of the ‘imagined internal conversation with the viewer’ is interesting, because when I think about making          these works, I recognize something that is there that I have not until now defined: the ‘conversation’, which is somewhat akin to the experience of meeting someone in your dreams who is a complete stranger, unlike anyone you have ever met before, who surprises you with their ideas…yet presumably you made them up!

Terrain, along with the work of Christel Dillbohner and Danae Mattes, runs through April 1 at the Berkeley Art Center (1275 Walnut St., 510-644-6893, BerkeleyArtCenter.org).

3. Obi: As far as I can tell, you employ three distinct processes to create your photographs, How did you decide which process to use for what image?

Johnna Arnold: The exhibit is in commemoration of Traywick’s fifteen-year anniversary. All of my work in this mini-retrospective is photo-based in process and freeway-oriented in subject matter. The earliest photos are mural-sized triptychs in which I enlarged details that I captured along the freeway. The second group, Freeway Conglomerations, are also photos taken from the freeway,but these are merged together in an attempt to unite the visual fragments we glimpse as we drive.  In my newest work I’m out of the car, taking photos with a large-format camera and putting myself in the frame to show my relationship with these inhospitable, man-made landscapes. In all of these works, I’m drawn to studying these amazing structures that were built to help us get to places we want to go; to me, freeways are an in-between time and place that symbolize the importance we continually place on reaching our destination.

Beyond the Lens, along with the works of Marco Breuer and Lothar Osterburg, runs through March 31 at Traywick Contemporary (895 Colusa Ave., 510-527-1214, Traywick.com).

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