Just how many landscapes can exist in one space at one time? What is our responsibility to the inhabitants of one space when they are overshadowed or made invisible by another? How can communities that ignore each other begin to rebuild, reintegrate, and recognize? Artist Weston Teruya often plays with these questions in his drawings, but this month we get to see them in three-dimensions.
For his newest work, on display as part of the 2 x 2 Solos series at Pro Arts in Oakland (which also features newcomer Chris Fraser), Teruya shifts into sculpture, but maintains all of the same quirks and quibbles that make his drawings compelling. Created entirely of paper, The gracious city at its neighbor's edge (2011) recreates portions of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall and its surroundings, the Los Amigos public golf course. True to the real-life situation it references, The gracious city provides an experience in which things are engtangled, out of proportion, and even sideways.
A vertical wall remnant dominates The gracious city, providing a sense of place by opposing exterior and interior. The name plate is cut in half; only the letters "RINOS," "ENILE," and "L" are left, in the font California Bureaucracy. Behind the wall is a bright yellow, life-sized parking lot curb, next to a disturbingly small set of folding chairs. A piece of rebar passes through a square hole, connecting "interior" and "exterior" spaces. A chair, a sawhorse, and a group of cinder blocks stand on the other side of the wall, connected to each other with more construction remnants. Small houses in varying stages of distress appear caught in the remnants; a hand-copied drawing of a golf-course brochure is clamped to some of the cinder blocks.
The gracious city is a scape within a scape within a scape. It is also an aggregation; a new whole created out of many parts. The fact the entire sculpture is made out of paper disturbs the perception; you're never fooled into thinking that you're looking at the actual object, but you're made more aware than usual of the fact that the very things we use to "construct" are themselves constructed -- in Teruya's case, this includes rebar, clamps, and a package of pencils.
Fractured and tenuous, Teruya's landscapes are barely landscapes at all. In Teruya's world, paper cut-outs of chain link fences, chairs, and 2x4s recombine to become something between place and object, asking viewers how it is we put together an understanding of a place.
Pro Arts 2 x 2 Solos with work by Weston Teruya and Chris Fraser runs through February 25, 2011, at Pro Arts in Oakland.