Drawing Expanse, San Diego Space 4 Art’s first open-call exhibition, showcases a very broad and loose definition of drawing within contemporary art practice today, despite how limiting and restrictive that just might be. There have been some odd and curious selections made by the show’s two jurors, David White (founder of Agitprop in North Park) and Karen McGuire (Director of William D. Cannon Art Gallery in Carlsbad) who themselves make for an equally odd pairing of expertise in view their politics and ambitions.
For the most part, Drawing Expanse is a solid exhibition with a wide range of good work and a few surprises. Those surprises are the “must-see” pieces but not so much for “the myriad ways in which drawing continues to influence and affect us” as the jurors state, but for the artists' unabashed frankness and pride in tackling their individual subject matter with such gusto, refinement, and a certain delicacy, delightfulness, and joy.
Lea Anderson - "Dewdropic"
First, here’s a brief overview of what was not working in Drawing Expanse. For example, Sandra Doore’s Fragments, a large wall sculpture covered in eggplant-colored vinyl stitched and pieced together, seems hand-sewn together as if to try to keep what’s inside from breaking through its exoskeleton. Doore is known for these types of works and has in the past exhibited much more compelling pieces than what she has on display here. Is it a sculpture or a drawing, of is it really of no importance? The work’s incongruity in the context of the show and lack of presence already puts it at odds with the viewer.
Signature works were also on display by Michele Guieu and May-ling Martinez. Martinez exhibited a previously seen work from a few years back and Guieu demonstrated her indefatigable (nondescript) production of reductive high-contrast silhouettes and figures – again.
K.V. Tomney also made the selection, exhibiting more “pool” drawings, but manages to change it up with one work that details the types of recreational pools that are available to the consumer – in or above ground. It’s hard to tell if Tomney is feeling the need to expand her pool repertoire, but it might be necessary in the not too distant future I believe. Hollis Swan, Chelsea Ramirez and Kirsten Rae Simonsen’s works highlight some of the more academic and contemporary trends in drawing, which are either stylistically overworked or conceptually bland.
However, the most disappointing work on view might be Richard Keely’s and Anna O’Cain’s Snowflake Mandala. A mandala, most of you may know, is Sanskrit for the word circle. “In the Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form. The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the shape of a T.” Furthermore, “in common use, mandala has become a generic term for any plan, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically, a microcosm of the Universe from the human perspective.” (Wikipedia) Carl Jung apparently believed the mandala was “a representation of the unconscious self.” Snowflake Mandala might be closer to a Yantra however, “thought to be the abode of the deity. Each yantra is unique and calls the deity into the presence of the practitioner through the elaborate symbolic geometric designs.” (Wikipedia) This would make sense given each snowflake’s geometric shape (hexagonal) and elaborate design.