Founded in 1983, Creativity Explored is a nonprofit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit, and sell their art. It continues to be a unique and thriving space, both in the Bay Area, and the country.
Currently on view in their Mission neighborhood space is The Masters, an exhibition featuring 35 artists who have created works inspired by a myriad of old and new Master Artists, ranging from Gustav Klimt to Botticelli, Wayne Theibold to Leonardo da Vinci. Organized and curated by Creativity Explored Development Director Ann Kappes, the results are as diverse as their influences. Some of the artists draw directly from their source materials, while others take great interpretive liberties. There are no formulas here, only experimentation and wonder in the process of looking and making.
The pieces are hung in a dense manner, recalling the salon style of the Louvre. As such, they play off of, and inform, one another. Selecting a few to write about is difficult, but here goes...
Artist Daniel Green reconceptualized Grant Wood's iconic 1930 painting American Gothic on what appears to be fabric or canvas, with extensive text wrapping around the image; as one example, he has written "the People's Court" over and over (he gives a similar treatment to the painting Gabrielle d'Estrees et une de ses soeurs).
Walter Kresnik, another well-established Creativity Explored artist, has several pieces in the exhibition. He has recreated Vermeer's famous Girl with the Pearl Earring (circa 1665) on paper, using only colored pencil and watercolor. Full of wild lines, his version manages to be unique and immediately recognizable. Finally, Jason Monzon has recreated a number of landscapes by Vincent van Gogh. The choice of this nineteenth century master as an inspiration is salient: Van was a self-taught artist, who was believed in his own time to be developmentally handicapped and who was never acknowledged for his genius.
Celebrating the tradition of studying great artists, this show is playful and rigorous, and succeeds in challenging its audience in who and how Master artistry is determined.
The Masters runs through April 20, 2011 at Creativity Explored. For more information visit creativityexplored.org.