Teach His Own

Class will tell in Mesa art educator exhibition

I was even less impressed with Cecilie Arcari-Glas' work, which harks back to the bad old days of snoozy conceptual and minimalist art. There was nothing even remotely intriguing about Blooming, an installation consisting of withered roots stuck in a jar of honey and capped with wax, then placed on a plywood table layered with wax -- or On Being Level, a compacted wedge of soil and soap perched on another wedge of multilayered wax atop a plywood platform. And what is the point of the kitschy platitudes painted on the bare chests of two young children in Prayer Book, a large color photo by the ASU visiting associate professor?

Dean Terasaki, director of photography at Glendale Community College, wins my undying gratitude for creating some digital photomontages that actually attain the status of fine art. The recent arming of America with gigabytten computers, locked and loaded with sophisticated photo editing software, has done very little to sharpen the aesthetic aim of artists who have embraced this new medium.

Terasaki, however, hits the target in both Fortune, Grace and Angel Island and Paper Umbrella/Peace Dance, showing that computer-generated imagery can be conceptually provocative and not just eye candy. The artist thoughtfully uses digitally created imagery to deal with themes of Japanese-American culture, war and atomic destruction.

Fortune, by Glendale Community College's Dean Terasaki.
Fortune, by Glendale Community College's Dean Terasaki.

Details

Continues through Saturday, July 8, at Galeria Mesa, located at Mesa Arts Center, 155 North Center in Mesa.

The compositional focus of Fortune is a slightly solarized, black-and-white photo of an old Japanese man holding a young child. In the colored background, neatly made army cots and hanging laundry tell us unmistakably that this is a Japanese-American internment camp from World War II. Terasaki overlays cabalistic drawings with Japanese kangi (characters) that appear to be hand diagrams with life lines that palm readers consult to predict the future, as well as facial diagrams with red lips used as some sort of mysterious template. In Paper Umbrella, the ghostly image of an umbrella-hoisting folk dancer in red is balanced, like a tightrope walker, on a background filled with a bombed out, dome-topped building.

In general, "Way Finders" is a decent cross section of solid work by artists who also happen to be art educators. And it gives us some insight into the quality of instruction that is molding budding artists both here in the Valley and throughout the state. Too bad a big bunch of those Arizona art educators have passed up a great chance to exhibit their work in a respected community gallery, one that will be even more of a cultural contender when Mesa's new Arts and Entertainment Center is finished in the next few years. Galeria Mesa's group show is well worth the schlep to the East Valley.

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