The definition of art has become so elastic since the early 20th century as to allow for alternatives within the traditional genres of painting, literature and sculpture, expressions which reflect contemporary environment and culture. The current exhibition in the Glendale Community College Art Gallery stretches classical techniques — drawing, intaglio printmaking, lost wax cast jewelry, encaustic painting, installation sculpture and artist books — to represent these 21st-century sensibilities.

The artists are all teaching professionals at Glendale Community College who wish to extend their examples and serve as a bridge between the college and the community. The gallery exhibits working and emerging local artists, with an emphasis on contemporary art.

The terms art and science have traditionally been used alongside one another in academic environments to distinguish between creative and empirical endeavors. The installation sculpture by Mark Gens, currently the Instructional Lab Tech in the Studio Arts Department at Glendale College, blurs the lines between those terms.

Gens assembles a structure made of white Ikea furniture remnants, textured clear glass and orange latex paint. A flat white table top is hung like a canvas on a support system structured with two additional components. A large orange clip device (approximately 10 square inches) is sandwiched between the back of the table top and the whitewashed wall. The clip bites the vertical edge of a sheet of glass, suspending it about an inch off of the wall, as it rises to a height of 67 inches. The clip device floats the table top 6 inches off the wall, and disappears behind it, creating layers of space between the wall, glass and table top. The backside of the table top is painted orange, which reflects, along with the unseen orange clip, off of the white wall and through the glass.

The effect is a subtle orange glow from behind, which at first glance looks suspiciously electronic. Depth perception is challenged. The artist cleverly designs into the installation, a large empty space on the wall between the information placard and the sculpture, which begs the viewer to peek behind the table top and investigate the illusion. It is playful and very nearly a science experiment that toys with light, vision, perspective and curiosity of the psyche.

Mark Wessel borrows a page from antiquity with his versions of illuminated manuscripts: those early hand-calligraphed prayer books with illustrated borders and enlarged and elaborated first capital letters. Wessel mocks up two ancient books open to old English script, but instead of hourly chants in Latin or French, the content depicts obtusely moralizing tales, surrounding fictional events and characters.

“Saga of Drew Marks “and “Asymmetrical Life” depict timeless human behavior in present day, told in a writing style that is appropriately verbose for the context. The author and artist creates wonderful tension and collapses centuries between the narratives and the ancient literary mode in which they are delivered. The opposing pages to the text are Wessel’s renderings of nude models, put to better use than just exercises in drawing, as the fictional subjects in his prose. The media is mixed and the writing is rhythmic, nearly mellifluous. The storytelling is engaging and the images meet the imagination, making this one of the most interesting, well rounded displays of talent I have seen in a long time.

The exhibition by the Glendale College teachers is small but diverse. It is always like “stripping” to show one’s work, but particularly so if claiming to be the educators. Nothing to be ashamed of here.

Infobox

What: “Artists and Educators”
Where: The Glendale College Art Gallery, 1500 N. Verdugo Rd., Glendale, CA. 91208. The gallery is located inside of the library.
When: July 5- August 11, 2011. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Thursday 12-4 pm.
Contact: www.glendale.edu/artgallery