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CROSS CURRENTS
Exhibition Date: Nov. 22 - Dec. 17, 1999
Works On Water By:

Connie Jenkins
Robert Ketchum
Sant Khalsa
Richard Lopez
Victor Raphael
Pat Warner

      Limitless and immortal, water is the beginning
and the end of all things on earth.

      Throughout human history, water has been viewed simultaneously as the primordial fluid from which all life comes and also as the mysterious element in which creatures drown and matter dissolves. Carl Jung regarded water as a symbol for the unconscious and for intuitive wisdom. In folk tales from around the world water is the magic liquid which brings the dead to life cures all illnesses and bestows immortality. In numerous quest tales the hero is sent to retrieve the water of life from a well, spring, lake etc. at a great distance. Belief in this water of life is so strong that it led explorers like Ponce de Leon to the New World in search of its source, the Fountain of Youth.

      Water has long been a source of inspiration, pleasure and restoration whether tinkling in a fountain or lapping at the shores of the sea it refreshes our throats, eyes and ears and replenishes our souls. In religious rituals from many countries water acts as a purifying element - the holy waters of baptism are fundamental to Christianity, while in India the Ganges River itself is a sacred purifier and the Yucatan Peninsula of Southern Mexico is dotted with cenotes or underground springs, and used by the Mayan peoples as centers for worship.

      With the wildly increasing human population of the modern world, water is ever more precious from a physical standpoint. Political battles are waged over jurisdiction of water use and environmentally minded individuals seek to protect the rivers and seas from over use and pollution. The works in this exhibition address the subject of water from many angles- from depiction of its wondrous reflective beauty, to water as a political issue, to water as the element of the divine and contemplative.

CONNIE JENKINS paintings, meticulously rendered in super realist style, depict falling and running water. In her recent works, which are at once realistic and abstract the viewer is invited to look through the glassy surface of the water into the life below. Titled month by month, Jenkins' paintings of intimate details of dark stream beds reveal the passing seasons - highly reflective in one moment and magnifying in the next, her waters also serve as metaphor for the cycles of life.

ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM widely renowned for his exquisite color photographs of the natural world presents views of little-known Arctic landscape. These images, made in 1994 during the course of an extraordinary voyage to seemingly inaccessible regions, are taken from Ketchum's book "Northwest Passage". The photographs represent a continuation of his life long study of natural landscape and his impassioned advocacy for environmental conservation.

Plastic bottles of water labeled with such words as creativity, balance and harmony stand on a simple wooden shelf beneath a photograph of upturned hands submerged in bubbling water. In this Study for a Sacred Spring by SANT KHALSA, the artist calls the viewer to visually drink from a spring of spiritual values while she simultaneously raises questions about the relationship between sacred experience and consumer culture. While using art as a form of political statement, Khalsa is equally committed to acceptance of the individual ways in which viewers interpret what they see. Her intentionally mysterious black and white photographic images of vessels - both natural and man-made (Vernal Pools, Enchantment Rock, Texas; Receptacle and Santa Ana River, Seven Oaks Dam Site) reflect her interest in ambiguity of meaning.

In the vigorous Water and Rocks series, pastels of water sites in Yosemite National Park by RICHARD LOPEZ one can almost hear the water crashing over rocks as it courses down the mountain. Light leaps about the foaming rapids and all is in motion. Upper Ploydome Lake II, a sumptuous and languid close-up of light on still water transports the viewer to a contemplative revery while Bridal Veil, Yosemite III and View From Above depict cinematic vistas with water falling on a grand scale. Lopez deftly captures the changing aspects and moods of water.

VICTOR RAPHAEL's Polaroid pieces from the Getty Water Series, images from the Getty Museum's peristyle pool, are dappled with gold and metal leaf which have been dripped on the surface of the photographs. These small paintings, mesmerizing as light shimmering across a still pond, have an alchemical presence, bath golden and transforming. The Polaroids, while being fully realized works in themselves serve as studies for Raphael's larger paintings on canvas - sensual abstractions, awash with iridescence.

A small gazebo with a constantly raining roofline stands amidst a thicket (19 feet in diameter) of wooden trees. The sound of water gently falling into the pool surrounding the gazebo beckons the gallery visitor to retreat, to contemplate, to drift back to peaceful moments long forgotten. Forest Retreat by PAT WARNER conjures up the soothing and restorative power of water in an experience which lies somewhere between delicious memories of a front porch in summer rain and the serenity of a Zen garden. Either way, it is a relief to be there.

-SUSANNA MEIERS, Curator
El Camino College Art Gallery

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 Last Updated On: 1/13/06