Avenue 12 Gallery presents Macro | Micro: Site to Psyche, a group exhibition of three award winning San Francisco ArtSpan artists: Elizabeth Ashcroft, David Avery, and Beth Davila Waldman. Beth Davila Waldman’s “Mollendo” series is the result of six odysseys to the site of her maternal homeland Arequipa, Peru including the former capital town of Mollendo. Once a vibrant and prosperous port town, today it is mostly a ghost town of colorful ruins existing with a few present day homes. This juxtaposition of shifts in time, culture and economy was Waldman’s inspiration for the series.
Elizabeth Ashcroft refers to herself as an "altered book artist” and calls her latest series “The Dissected Library”. The duality of the book as both a visual object and a conduit for ideas is a source of constant inspiration. David Avery is a practitioner of traditional black and white copper plate etching and has long been drawn to the works and techniques of the master etchers and engravers of the past 400 years as well as their literary counterparts.
Beth Davila Waldman Artist Statement: As my art considers site, community, material and experience through paintings, collages and public art projects. Inspired landscape and the expansion of the idea of home as place, my work explores a site’s economic, political and social contexts through architecture. Using my own photography as source imagery, my paintings and collages are constructed through a subtractive process of realism, shifting perspectives with color fields and negative space to speak to the waywe experience and register life. The fractured quality of my material and line constructions attempts to pervade intersections of past and present experiences.
Beth Davila Waldman was born in Princeton, NJ in 1975 to a Peruvian mother and a New York architect father. As a child, she quickly learned to define site as home as her parents moved her from Princeton to Cincinnati, Cincinnati to Houston, Houston to Florence, then back to Houston again. Deeply influenced by childhood memories to construction sites and museums, Beth pursued a career in the arts starting at the age of 15. She earned her 1st degree in art history and studio art with a concentration in cast bronze figurative works at Wellesley College in the Boston area. From east to west, Beth established her new and current home in San Francisco Bay Area 20 years ago. She continued her education at the San Francisco Art Institute with a focus on site-specific public art and installation. During those years, her many travels to international urban sites as well as explorations of San Francisco alleys served as inspirations to her site work. She is currently working on a series of large-scale constructed mixed media paintings combining digital media with traditional paint inspired by her travels.
Beth’s paintings have been exhibited throughout the San Francisco Bay Area at a selection of venues such as The Midway Gallery, Richmond Art Center, The San Francisco Art Institute’s Diego Rivera Gallery, Arc Gallery, and Kala Institute as well as throughout the US at the Maryland Federation of Art’s Circle Gallery in Annapolis, MD, the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, LA and Galerie Protege in New York. Her work has been recognized with the Harold E. Weiner Memorial Sculpture Award in 2004 by the San Francisco Art Institute, the Sonoma Community Center Temporary Public Art Award for her site specific installation entitled “Alternate Visitors Center of Sonoma” in 2007 and the Kala Institute Parent Artist Residency for 2017-2018. Beth’s home and studio are based in Mill Valley, CA.
Elizabeth Ashcroft refers to herself as an altered book artist and is based in San Francisco. Her altered books are in the Shakespeare Collection in the Library of the University of Denver, the McCabe Library at Swarthmore College, and the Smithsonian American Art and Portrait Gallery Library.
Artists Statement: The Dissected Library is the title I have given my ongoing series of altered books. I find the literal boardpaper-thread-glue-ink-word essence of the book offers a unique platform to cut into, build onto and burst out of in both two and three dimensional forms. The process is quite intimate, not unlike the reading of a book, where pages are touched, pierced, cut and sewn; words scanned and considered. There is something deeply satisfying about bringing together found words and images from disparate sources and to orchestrate them into new creative relationships. The duality of the book as both a visual object and a conduit for ideas is a source of constant inspiration.
I use every facet of the book as a building block to create both wall and freestanding sculptural pieces. In the Open Book series, I peruse the pages and choose words and phrases to cut and fold and spill out of the permanently fanned open book leafs – my own form of editing if you will. An opportunity to create a new fluttering narrative of randomly chosen segments of someone else’s story – not a formal narrative but one where one’s eye flicks among the words, finding unique links between the strips, and thus in turn, connecting and reconnecting into subsequent narrative tiers. In addition to the essence of the word play, their physical presence creates interesting spatial relationships, patterns and shadows.
In the Word Garden series, I've culled words from within the books and brought them out of the book to hover on slender stems like flowers growing in a garden of ideas. Themes are variously inspired by the book titles, words that catch my eye again and again, a phrase that randomly forms as the culled words lay in juxtaposition to each other on the word palette….I like the tension as they float above the surface alongside small patches of color that thread their way among, beside and around the words adding visual melody while their shadows create ever changing patterns below.
The Puzzle Book series are composed of discarded library books donated to me by the Francisco Middle School librarian. Many of these out-dated books had covers of primary colors - I found myself especially drawn to the many shades of red and those with vintage patterns. I proceeded to cut them into pieces and then repurposed them as building blocks to form abstract configurations.”
A practitioner of traditional black and white etching in San Francisco for over 30 years, David Avery has long been drawn to the works and techniques of the master etchers and engravers of the past 400 years as well as their literary counterparts. He often finds in them inspiration or a point of departure for his own work- a bridge between past thought and contemporary issues.
Mark Jenkins, The Washington Post, July 21, 2017 wrote: “… the classic imagery is wittily updated. Avery interjects Renaissance-style intimations of mortality and damnation into everyday scenes: A skeleton rides a stick horse whose head is a equine skull, or a woman jogs with a stroller and a dog, accompanied by Death (riding a bicycle) and a demon. Such mash-ups would be only mildly amusing if the artist didn’t so successfully emulate centuries-old motifs and methods.”
The unique quality of line etching on copper, limited only by Avery’s skill and patience, coupled with his questioning vision of things as they supposedly are, give his work its compelling appeal, allowing for the possibility of generating a multiplicity of narratives and interpretations.
Avery’s work has been noted in the New York Times, the Washington Post (above) and the Boston Globe, and is included in many museum collections, including the New York Public Library, the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, the Library of Congress, and the Stanford University Library Special Collections among others.