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May 10, 2007

The Artful Life - by Louisa Hufstader

The Artful Life
Oxbow students show end of semester creations

Oxbow art student Kalea Santos-Heiman, 17, of Cincinnati, Ohio displays her final art project, a self-portrait of her relationship with her dad and “being able to pull myself together to get over the fear of trust,” at Oxbow School’s open house exhibit of student projects. Santos-Haeiman is in the blue flip-flops. Lianne Milton/Register

By LOUISA HUFSTADER, Napa Valley Register Correspondent
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Last weekend’s two-day final show at the Oxbow School in Napa provided a tantalizing sample of what gifted teenagers are capable of creating at the end of their Oxbow semester.

The residential school attracts fine arts students from the Bay Area and around the country with a 16-week curriculum that blends traditional high school courses like math and history with plenty of hands-on studio art training. The final show takes the place of graduation exercises.

In their projects, the 16th Oxbow class explored a dizzying variety of media.

Kinetic sculpture, African-style mask-making and intricate cut-paper works joined videos, photography and hand-printed books in the Oxbow studios, thrown open to the public for two short afternoons.
Each piece represented weeks of work by the student artist, who also prepared a research paper on a related topic.

Several artists, including 17-year-old Laura Brentrup of Hanover, N.H., installed their works on the grassy bank of the Napa River.

“A lot of things spark your imagination, being outside,” she said.

Brentrup’s research paper explored the relationship between physical exercise and emotional well-being; her interactive “Emotion in Motion” invited passersby to enjoy the experience of pedaling a bicycle harnessed by pulleys to a series of colorful turning wheels.

Napan Bryn Owens, 18, achieved an epic tone in a massive painting inspired by the history of his maternal grandfather, an Italian who immigrated to the U.S. only to return to his native country as an American soldier in World War II.

Based formally on a German Renaissance altarpiece, Owens’ four-part oil on board has an almost cinematic effect, moving from a close-up of his grandfather as a civilian to a longer shot of a soldier in a muddy trench. No one who sees it will be surprised to learn that Owens plans to study art and cinema in college; he joins his older sister Rose at UC Santa Cruz this fall.

Other Oxbow students suspended paintings and sculptures from overhead, trained video cameras on each other and photographed themselves.

Peter Linden, a 17-year-old from Oakland, painted 50 small “portraits” of everyday objects — a pen, a book, a detergent bottle and the like — each peering back at the viewer with a small but recognizable face.

Linden said it took a week to suspend his creations overhead: “Wherever I walked, I could see fishing line,” he said.

Kevan Barsky of Nevada City faced a direr challenge as he worked on his interactive sound sculpture, “Circuit Bending.”

“My roommates were seriously considering killing me,” said Barsky, who wore a paint-stained laboratory coat and a mad professor grin as he demonstrated his work. Electronic bleats and blips from the circuits in a keyboard translated into rhythmic dots on a large TV screen, changing pattern when Barsky or a visitor moved plugs around a patch bay.

Barsky’s piece, like Brentrup’s and Linden’s, was packed up after the show closed Sunday; many of the student works were site-specific installations and won’t be shown again.

For fans of the truly new in art, it’s worth noting now that the next Oxbow Final Show will be in December. The school’s fundraiser, “Celebrating an Artful Life,” is June 2; for more information, www.oxbowschool.org.

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or Pamela@studio-707.com
[Posted: 5/23/2007]



Posted by Pamela at May 10, 2007 3:42 PM| Share on Facebook | Art Education, Non-wine activities in Napa Valley, Oxbow School

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