January Gallery: F-15 Photography, Mathematical Origami and Ceramics

(Contributed Photo)
Much of Alex Meckes’ origami artwork has a mathematical basis, as seen in his piece Truncated Octahedron, shown here with the artist.

    The Lamorinda Arts Council presents the work of the F-15 Photography Group, Alex Meckes’ mathematical origami and ceramics from Ian Clark and friends at the Art Gallery at the Orinda Library to kick off the New Year.
    Few would disagree that the new year brings a new freedom of thought. Toni Morrison has an interesting idea about this freedom, “The function of freedom is to free someone else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”
    All the artists showing work in January have tasted that freedom and created work that speaks to pursuing their love of art. They invite you to join them at their artist reception 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Jan. 5 to see what they have created; and hope their work might free you to try something creative.
    Yoni Mayeri of Orinda curated the photography show for eight members of the F-15 Photography Group. They are a diverse group with a variety of professional backgrounds and experience in photography who share their knowledge and talents in pursuit of fine art photography.
    They explore new locations and take regular field trips to places of interest.
    F-15 holds a monthly lunchtime meeting where they check in and have critiques, provide advice, discuss projects and help each other find solutions to the business, practical and artistic concerns inherent in being a photographer.
    All F-15 members are showing a total of 40 works in this exhibit: Emmy Randol of Oakland; Kirsten Berg, Steve Haimovitz, Celie Placzek, Ron Rothbart and Elizabeth Saucier of Berkeley; Harley Jensen of Emeryville and Yoni Mayeri of Orinda. Photographic genres on exhibit include: travel/people, birds, architectural abstracts, botanicals, abstract nature, landscapes and florals. Mayeri’s Dangerous Beauty, a 16” x 20” photograph on canvas elevates the beauty of Brugmansia or Angel’s Trumpet, as it is commonly known, while her title reminds us that it is highly toxic.
    Alex Meckes of Orinda is a junior at Miramonte High School and has been creating origami since second grade. While the average person thinks of origami as clever foldings of paper, Meckes has a different understanding. He is guided by MIT professor Erik Demaine as to what folding is all about.
    “It’s kind of annoying because nature does it so well! We have such a hard time doing folding, and nature’s doing it all the time, so it’s our challenge to reproduce that in an engineered sort of way. But we have that shining example that it can be done,” the professor says. Meckes can recite this quote by heart; he finds it to be such a helpful guide in creating origami.
    Meckes’ trust in Demaine is well placed; Demaine received his Ph.D in Mathematics at the age of 20 and a MacArthur Fellowship award at the age of 22. The award cited him as a “computational geometer tackling and solving difficult problems related to folding and bending – moving readily between the theoretical and the playful, with a keen eye to revealing the former in the latter.”
    Meckes espouses the natural connections to mathematics origami has in terms of folding. He says folding, in the mathematical sense, is used to explore space, to treat heart disease and to explore the properties of DNA and proteins.
    Each shelf of Meckes’ origami exhibit has a theme identified by his artist statement explaining the origami artwork. In total he is showing 20 pieces including Truncated Octahedron, a 14” x 12” x 12” origami made of paper folded into intertwining triangles and squares rich in color.

(Contributed Photo)
Ian Clark’s stoneware pot Fantasy is completed with the artist’s signature glaze, “Ian’s Grey.”

    Ian Clark is from England and now lives in Walnut Creek and is a member of the Roosmoor Ceramic Arts Club. He learned about ceramics as a youngster in his early school years but only pursued it once he retired from the world of IT. Recalling his school days, he says the only time a teacher ever visited his parents was his art teacher.
    “I centered my working life around intellectual things and pottery is not intellectual. It is a wonder to work with clay; like a meditation or spiritual exercise. I am constantly improving and learning new things but it’s something you can’t rush,” says Clark.
    When he travels, mostly to England and France, he visits museums and places where pottery is king. “I visited the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge to see works by Lucie Rie, who I admire tremendously.” Other potters he admires include Hans Copa and Jennifer Lee, who does hand-built bowls.
    When he visited Old Lee in England he learned an important lesson. “The best pottery reflects its environment,” he says. In Old Lee, a fishing village, the potters collect shells and sea glass which they use in their pottery – they emboss with the shells and use thin sea glass to make interesting patterns.
    Clark’s quest now is coming up with glazes that reflect his environment here in Northern California – the gold of the hills in summer and the blue of the sky unfettered by clouds. He will display some of his glaze materials in the exhibit along with his eponymous glaze, “Ian’s Grey,” which he shares with his fellow potters in Rossmoor. Diva Fontinelli and Angela Lusk from Rossmoor are also showing ceramics in the exhibit. Clark’s 11” stoneware vessel titled Fantasy is glazed with Ian’s Grey, toned with Bermuda mason stain and pitted with silicon graphite, nutmeg, and sky blue. The glazing seems to allow the form of the vessel to glow.
    To learn more about the Lamorinda Arts Council, go to www.lamorindaarts.org. Visit the Art Gallery at the Orinda Library, 26 Orinda Way, during normal library hours – Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The library is closed on January 1 and 20. Call 925-254-2184 for more information or visit http://ccclib.org/.

(Contributed Photo)
Often inspired by animals and their habitats, Marlene Metropolis creates a whimsical home for a seahorse in her 30” x 40” painting Wayfarer’s Bouquet.

Art Gallery at Wilder: Home is Where Wildlife Flourishes
    The Lamorinda Arts Council presents the oil paintings of Marlene Metropolis from Jan. 2 to 31. Meet her at an artist reception in her honor 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 11. Light refreshments will be served, including “Eureka,” a craft cocktail by Lamorinda Arts Council participating mixologist Barbara Poole.
    Marlene Metropolis of Danville picked up her first box camera and started dark room work at the age of 4 thanks to her father. Her love of photography led to a degree in film and animation so that depicting the world around her became second nature. She switched careers to become a chiropractor for some time, eventually retiring because of a disability. After she retired a friend introduced her to an oil painting class; she hasn’t stopped painting and drawing since.
    Metropolis explains her theme, “Home is Where Wildlife Flourishes” thus: “It’s so fun to make a flat surface look like an animal habitat I want to protect. Maybe through my paintings others will want to protect it too.” While painting wildlife and other creatures is her focus, she says allowing the viewer to discover the areas surrounding the animal, meaning their home, is paramount.
    When she views a wild animal in its proper environment, “I can’t stand to put it on a piece of white paper, or pose it all by itself,” she says. “Every nook and cranny of the earth is somebody’s home and that is why the habitat and the protection of the habitat is home, with all the comforts of home as well.”
    The Art Gallery at Wilder, 20 Orinda Fields Lane, is open for scheduled events such as artist receptions on the first Saturday of every month from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m., on Tues. and Thur. from 6 – 8 p.m. and by appointment.  Please contact Lamorinda Arts Council Curator Denise Nomura, at wildergallery@lamorindaarts.org or visit https://lamorindaarts.org for more information. 
    Moving forward, more regular hours will be scheduled. The Orinda Parks and Recreation Dept. is seeking bookings of classes and meetings. Contact them at OrindaParksandRec@cityoforinda.org, visit them at 28 Orinda Way or call 925-254-2445.

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