Boxed In

Box Art Benefit Auction at Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, CA.
Box Art Benefit Auction at Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, CA.

If someone gave you a 6 inch squared wood cube and asked you to create “art”, what would you do?  Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland asked 100 artists that question resulting in an exciting and visually stimulating exhibition.  This was all part of the gallery’s annual Box Art Benefit Auction.

Artist Lea Virsik made a large-scale installation piece out of her wood cube.  The piece titled Beginning Exploration also included a branch, buttons, linen, thread, wire, beads, fiber, shells, and glass.  Virsik: “As I create, I explore my inner landscape.  I’m attempting to uncover a stifled sound.  It’s my challenge to express this internal voice through my art and ultimately, boldly, out loud.”

Samantha Lautman craved out the wood cube and made three custom prints with the words: “WE ARE THE 99%.”  According to Lautman the piece is “…meant to mimic a Blackberry smart phone when folded up.  That way, a protester could blend in with the crowd in the financial district on her way, then flip open the ‘phone’ and make signs for everyone.”

Richard K. Bacon’s piece titled Occupy LOVE: All for one and one for all, became a floating orb-like installation.  He created the art “…to support the ProArts organization and is a political statement reflecting current affairs.”  The wood cube has 100 bamboo rods protruding from each side.  Each rod is painted white with a red tip to resemble a match.

JBBA.11.11.166 close-up, artwork by Jenny E. Balisle
JBBA.11.11.166 close-up, artwork by Jenny E. Balisle

My piece titled JBBA.11.11.166, is a custom-made fabricated acrylic box.  I used the wood as template and because it was an “imperfect” cube, the box was difficult to replicate.  Apparently, because I didn’t use the wood in the final presentation it caused some controversy and made a few people angry!  However, the box couldn’t have been created without it.

Anyways, I scratched the clear acrylic creating a pattern on each side then buffed it multiple times to create a hazy look.  The bottom base was made out of black acrylic.  As a result, I was trying to create a translucent impression of nature’s patterns that could be easily manipulated by light.

On November 4th, Pro Arts Gallery had its silent and live auction of the wide range of boxes.  Tom Vacar, KTVU reporter, did a great job as the auctioneer.  Sponsors included: Fox 2 News, SOMAR bar and lounge, The ReUse People, and plum.  It was great to see the outpour of support for the Oakland arts organization especially since some patrons were reluctant to attend the event due to the Occupy Wall Street protests.

According to Pro Arts Gallery website: “Auction proceeds benefit the Youth Fellows Initiative, an artist-in-the-schools program that nurtures artistic development by integrating arts education, exhibition opportunities, professional arts training, and the introduction of artistic practices to youth in Oakland public high schools, and Pro Arts‘ visual arts programming.”

Art is free speech and always worth the fight and support.  Without it, there would be a void in American culture that could never be filled.  Organizations like Pro Arts Gallery need our continuous support through good and bad economic times.  Bottom line, artists are most likely part of the 99% and need consistent support from the entire 100%.

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