CSUN Painting Guild’s ‘Painting: Friend or Faux?’

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How can a medium like painting, so easily manipulated, be called upon to represent anything? The CSUN Painting Guild’s may have the answer in their newest art exhibition, Painting: Friend or Faux?

The exhibition, located in the CSUN West Gallery in the Art ‘ Design Department, is a collection of works that represent each member’s relationship to painting today.

The artwork ranges from personal statements and memories to lighthearted and comical representations of American culture.

Derek Albeck, senior art major, submitted an untitled piece, a mixed media work that incorporated a dozen or more white ghost-like characters, floating on top of a striped background.

“It’s about the glums of society, and how people get wrapped up in depression,” Albeck said. “People don’t get the chance to go out and enjoy life, especially now, when people are so politically split and lost.”

Reminiscent of street and skateboard art, Albeck’s untitled piece stems from his interest in this growing underground culture.

Jennifer Brandon, a graduate student and president of the Painting Guild, submitted a triptych painting based on family photographs, three paintings side by side that make the viewer feel like they’re peeking into someone’s personal family photo album.

Brandon’s piece is three different perspectives on one painful memory: the climax of her parent’s relationship before she was born.

“The paintings are all stories I’ve heard about my parents since I was nine,” Brandon said.

Having only met her father once, she relied on the only photograph she had of her father to complete the painting.

“It was really intense,” said Brandon about the process of painting a picture of a father she never really knew. “I noticed things, as I was painting, about my father that I hadn’t noticed before. We have similar noses.”

The paintings are coupled with text that makes up fragmented bits and pieces of stories Brandon remembers being told, as well as memories.

The most powerful of the three paintings is of a little girl, looking out at the viewer. Underneath, the text reads: “She looked at me — eyes cold and words plain — said he’d raped her with a broom stick. Green eyes blue-then-black, nose shattered red. She was too-quiet, hair matted with salty-red sweat sticking.”

Brandon said her piece “speaks to how our family photo albums make up who we are.”

In May, Brandon is planning a thesis show that will comprise filmstrip paintings, in the same vein of her family photo album paintings.

Kiet Mai and Edward Lightner, of L2 Kontemporary art gallery in Chinatown, were asked to jury the CSUN Painting Guild’s exhibition. The process of jurying meant that Mai and Lightener had to select the ten best paintings out of a pool of more than 50 submissions by the Painting Guild.

“You can’t have a thin skin and be an artist,” said Lightner, a former CSUN graduate, about the process of submitting your work and getting rejected. “I’d like to put more people in (the exhibit), but if they wanted everything in, they wouldn’t need us (jurying).”

Both trained artists as well as gallery owners, Kiet and Lightner said they were looking for artwork that looked “complete,” but also something that caught their eye.

Painting: Friend or Faux? will continue through March 17, 2005.