On Saturday evening from 5 until 9 PM, the Expo Building’s Central Gallery is hosting receptions for two new exhibitions, created in part with support from the Arts Council for Long Beach, as part of their Long Beach Arts Month celebration.

For Transformative Visions, they tapped the internationally known artist, Slater Barron, to curate the exhibition. Best known as the ‘Lint Lady,’ Slater’s mixed media works have challenged and captured the imaginations of thousands over the span of 5 decades, through at least twenty solo shows, more than seventy group shows, and through numerous television appearances.

Slater was invited to curate the show by Kamran Assadi, past Board President and current Executive Board member for the ACLB.

“Kamran Assadi is a former student of mine, and we have stayed in touch ever since. He has been supportive of me and my work for years, and is a very special friend. I am happy he trusted me to do this.”

Assadi said, “One of the reasons why I asked Slater to curate is that most of these artists have gallery representation and would not normally consider showing here. I knew, though, if Slater asked, they wouldn’t be able to say no.”

Slater’s curatorial process was unusual, in that the artists selected works for inclusion in the show, but the selection process was collaborative, based on Slater’s vision.

“My first goal was to invite 23 other artists that I know well,” Barron explained, “and whose art and work ethic would provide quality. I began to see wonderful contrasts and connections with the artists’ work. For example, Alice Foss Thorne has always worked with recycling materials and, this year, she was using cut branches from her garden and enclosing them in a geometric frame. By incorporating seeds in different ways, she was showing the possibility of rebirth, something I feel in my life every day. I wear a scarab ring as a reminder.

“On the other hand, Sheriann Ki Sun Burham is using branches in an very free organic 3D form that has an air of mystery about them, as they are covered over and incorporated with translucent materials. Sheriann was born in Korea and raised in the United States. The work has a beautiful Asian sensibility to it. Sheriann uses a computer to design her work, and much of it is digital imagery. I think of it as visual poetry. By contrast, Alice does not even have a computer.

“Mayde Meiers Herberg uses a dream in the form of photographs of people sleeping, and then hangs a mysterious object in front, which is part of a palm tree from which mysterious sticks emerge. Ilee Kaplan’s work is also of people sleeping, but they are captured by large wood cut blocks which have been painted. Mayde’s work feel light, and the palm pod appears to float. Ilee’s is very solid and steadily secure. Very peaceful.”

Barron was committed to including work by Iran Snyder, but was concerned that the fragility of the media (charcoal on paper) might not withstand the First Fridays crowds.

“We decided on something more substantial: A huge painting of acrylic on paper of a rock in Joshia Tree. Also, it worked into the idea that the giant rock for LACMA was displayed on Atlantic Avenue, and many people saw it there. A return of imagery of sorts.”

Some artists Barron contacted were reluctant to show older works with which she was familiar.

“Good work is always still good work, and I remembered past pieces like Joan Skogsberg Sanders’ series about Morocco. One of the questions on our questionnaire for the Kid’s Challenge was, ‘What painting takes you to another country?’ We were certain the answer would be Sanders’ work, however, a very smart 5 year old boy picked my dryer lint sushi as his answer because he knew it was Japanese food.”

Three well known book artists are also included in the exhibition, whose works include a variety of media.

“Sue Ann Robinson shows three actual books and several paint cans of words that could be part of books. Terry Braunstein shows her photographs from photo montages that are very personal thoughts, and have been used in some book form. Pia Pizzo’s book is enormous at 6′ and has no words in it at all, but the torn pages set up a private, undecipherable language for the viewer.

Michiel Daniel, a well respected educator and current owner of the Stone Rose Gallery on 4th Street, is exhibiting his painting, Pink Sub.

“His paintings have always been beautiful and, after having see his new ones recently at his show at Golden West College, I asked for three from the same series.

“Sandy Abrams is one of my very best friends, and we share so much of our lives and work. I remember when she was knitting the Gestation piece (274 days, one tiny knit figure at a time) and how she was looking forward to her first grandchild. Now she has three grandchildren that she adores. I have seven, all college age now.”

Betsy Lohrer Hall’s work is often about process, but she’s also constantly searching for new ways to use the detritus of daily living, both to give it new meaning, but also because these raw materials provide unexpected opportunities.

“Betsy became a friend a shorter time ago, but she steals my heart with her smile, her innate sweetness and her work. The three pieces in the show are beautifully painted on paper with such repetition of marks, patience and control that I can only imagine the meditation during the execution of the process.

Jen Grey, when not teaching painting at CSULB, is using high tech imaging systems at Caltech to create multi-dimensional computer sculptures that are then rendered on paper.

“She was my committee chair when I was working on my MFA at CSULB. I appreciate her continued work, and her support when I was a student. I am the same age as her mother, and feel close to her and their relationship.

“John Montich, whose car photographs are a delight of imagery and memory, has often helped me and he designed the installation of the work to make it have a sense of order despite the the variety of size, media, and color. With the help of John Sanders and Mike Hamlin, it still took about four days to get it up, labeled and with the artist’s statements posted.”

The show had a ‘soft’ opening last Friday but, tomorrow, most of the artists will be in attendance. Also hosting a reception tomorrow is the group show, NOW, curated by Hilary Norcliffe, and featuring art by Carleton Christy, Jocelyn Foye, JEFF&GORDON, Cynthia Herrera, Nathan Huff, Tina Linville, Becca Shewmake, Noah Thomas, Vav Vavrek, and Carrie Yury.

The Expo Arts Center is located at 4321 Atlantic Avenue, just South of San Antonio Drive.

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