Recycled, re-used or re-appropriated materials in fine art is nothing new. Especially with the whole Green movement and rash of sustainability enthusiasts, this practice is everywhere.
I'm cool with the whole idea, I really am. But, sometimes, I just want to come across an artist who relishes in aesthetics, not politics. After all, I want to see something that looks amazing without making me feel guilty for drinking out of plastic bottles and using harsh chemicals to clean my bathroom.
That said, it sounds like artist, Cathy Breslaw, is my chick. I have high hopes for her solo show, "Light Moves", at West Valley Art Museum because she chose her unusual art materials for their aesthetic qualities, not their political symbolism.
Breslaw searches for less-than-ordinary art materials and has stumbled upon a plastic mesh that is manufactured by extrusion molding machines. The mesh usually ends up as those plastic baggies for our vegetables, Japanese garbage bags and floral wrappings in South America. The plastic is sold and shipped in enormous room-sized containers.
What I like about Breslaw is that she makes no bones about choosing this purely for its aesthetic. She was attracted to the way light weaves its way through this translucent material.
Now, she creates "paintings" with the stuff. At least - they act like paintings because they are big, rectangular and they hang on a wall. But there isn't any canvas or surface to speak of. Breslaw layers mulitple colors of plastic in the mesh and weaves thread, yarn, painted twine, rope, string beads, buttons and dollops of paint throughout the plastic offering dimensionality and an entanglement of color. The material displays a delicate glow of pastels as it absorbs surrounding light.
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And no, the glow is not a symbol for our deteriorating ozone or the dying heartbeat of endangered baby whales...it's just pretty, that's all.
"Cathy Breslaw: Light Moves" opens today, July 24th at West Valley Art Museum in Surprise, 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts, 623-972-0635, www.wvam.org.