Mountain Shadows’ The Gallery has recently opened its newest exhibition, “Liner Notes,” featuring works spanning several decades.
Liner Notes, which will be open to the public through Aug. 31, challenges the way viewers perceive the use of overall linear design via artwork of three local artists, Brooke Grucella, Vincent Chung and the late Robert F. Clark for William de Lillo.
John A. Reyes, The Gallery curator and owner of Reyes Contemporary Art, said the three artists use the line in its many forms: graphically, physically and in the abstract.
Visitors to The Gallery will spot welded material à la Clark, pop art embedded with politically driven messages, courtesy of Grucella; and Chung’s neon artwork, with subtle notions to intense feeling and emotion.
“The show is three unique surveys of individual artists’ work, spanning from illustrative to sculptural and across several decades,” he said. “That is what makes art really great and satisfying, to see how an artist of another generation deals with similar issues and complexities.”
Reyes said the underlying theme in this show is that the artwork does not have a “preciousness” in the making.
“[In] all of the artist’s works, even Grucella’s, the surfaces aren’t perfect or pristine, and that is another underlying theme of the show,” he said.
Grucella’s work in Liner Notes uses vintage cartoon and comic book imagery. While they may seem simplistic at first glance, they are actually a reflection of the current socio-political climate.
“Just like a Bugs Bunny cartoon would advertise killing Nazis or encouraging people to buy war bonds, the paintings are created to critique our contemporary world,” Grucella said.
She added: “These are my intentions. However, people may take something else from the work, nostalgia for the cartoons, or think about items from their childhood, then consider what I am. But it really is up to the viewer what, if anything, they get from seeing the work.”
One particular piece, “Thoughts & Prayers,” depicts a spinning gun shooting bullets.
This imagery left Grucella thinking about gun control “and the notion that politicians provide “thoughts and prayers” for victims of gun violence, but don’t do anything to change the laws to prevent the nonsense,” she said.
“I enjoy her interpretation of current events and political issues and how she ties in a colorful pop-art component to highlight those things,” Chung said of Grucella’s work. “Every single piece tells a story and it’s rewarding to form your own interpretation of it.”
Grucella has exhibited regionally and nationally, including a 20-foot-long painting, “Push Comes to Shove,” which exhibited at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Chung, an emerging artist who received his degree from Arizona State University just a few years ago, contributed to Liner Notes mixed media works affixed with neon tubing.
“There are some very nice moments in Vincent’s work,” Grucella said. “I like how the shadows from the neon play with some of the painted shapes on the canvases; it is really interesting to see how that neon line plays with the actual lines in the work.”
In Chung’s work, viewers will also find traces of dirt and debris for what he describes as “unpredictable mark-making.”
“There’s this ‘preciousness’ that is often associated with painting, and in my work, I confront that by working predominantly on the ground both indoors and outdoors,” he said, adding:
“I develop my work by leaving hanging threads, frays of ripped cotton or linen, exposed wires so that the nature of the materials are brought to the foreground.”
Clark was a prominent jewelry designer with William de Lillo, his lifelong partner and collaborator.
Though they called France home for a period in their lives, working for the house of Chanel, Nina Ricci, Schiaparelli and Yves Saint Laurent, the pair eventually retired in Paradise Valley.
At Liner Notes, a few of Clark’s works will be exhibited to the public for the first time, including several welded metal-created wall sculptures from Clark’s “Circus” and abstract series, which were created in Paris in 1979.
What Reyes said he enjoys about Clark’s art is the connection of ’70s minimalism of the works.
“The circle, triangle and the square are the symbolic embodiment of the universe. Plus, the works have a Brutalist feel, which also links to the architecture of the time,” he said.
In many of the wall pieces, a few of the appendages are movable, too – a nod to Clark and de Lillo’s jewelry.
“It’s easy to determine that he does process pieces, meaning he started to make decisions during the fabrication, and I like that,” Reyes added.
Grucella said she’s attracted to how delicate Clark’s artwork is, as well as the depth he creates with just thin metal lines.
Chung said she enjoys the 3-D elements of Clark’s pieces.
“Brass and wire are timeless,” he said. “It was a neat opportunity to be in a show with such an acclaimed artist that is predominantly known for his ornate jewelry pieces.”