Old City Hall exhibit unites an eclectic mix
By Jim Dyar, D.A.T.E. Editor
Seeing detailed genitalia on classical sculptures might cause a blush or two, but offend someone? Is it still possible?
It at least merited a warning on the door at the Old City Hall Art Gallery in Redding.
If some are angered by his work, Redding artist Palul (Paul Rideout) says that's good.
"The human form is probably the most special (art study) because we're human," he said. "From an artist's perspective, it's the one people can relate to. It's the universal symbol, if you want to call it a symbol, universal tool, everybody's got one."
The work of the 63-year-old retired medical technician is part of the three-person show entitled "Sensual Surfaces" at Old City Hall (1313 Market St.).
The exhibit, which also features oil paintings by Usana Weaver and encaustics and collages by Marilyn Peer, opened Wednesday and runs through Aug. 27.
In addition to Palul's male and female nude forms, a piece that will probably raise at least a few eyebrows is "Changing," a hermaphrodite.
The sculpture is not a hermaphrodite "in the technical, biological, follow-the-rules sense," says Palul, "but, to me, this transition where there's male and female in everybody."
A T-shirt placed at the top of the shoulders makes it appear as if the figure is disrobing.
In an artist's statement, Palul said the work represents a change in society where more and more people are able to tap into their less dominant gender.
"It's a good thing, to be both strong and sensitive," he says.
Palul, who has taught ceramics at the Shasta College Extension in Red Bluff since 1985, said the biggest challenge in sculpting the human form is maintaining accurate proportions.
A series of his smaller "studies" can be seen in a display case adjacent to the main exhibit. The quickly formed pieces are what he uses as guides to the vision of the larger works.
A zoology major in college, Palul broke out anatomy textbooks, studied Greek sculpture and used his wife, Alison, and his own body as models for his most recent works.
In a combination that enhances a classic Greek feel to the exhibit, Weaver's oil paintings of fruit line two interior walls of the show.
The Redding artist is a big fan of the taste, color and shape of fruit.
"I wanted to paint the fruit like an old master would, with great respect and prominence and mystery," she said.
Weaver, who has painted for more than 30 years, splits her time between studio and plein-air work, painting landscapes outside. An additional exhibit of her paintings can be seen Aug. 7-31 at the Snyder Highland Art Center in Weaverville.
Eight of 10 paintings in her recent fruit series are on display at Old City Hall. When asked what she's learned from the series, Weaver was whimsical.
"I learned that it's possible to do a humongous painting of blueberries," she said, laughing. "It's my favorite fruit, but who in their right mind would like to paint a million blueberries?"
Peer's encaustic pieces contain translucency and depth. The pieces utilize as many as 50 layers of wax over interiors of such items as Chinese good-luck papers and ginger candy wrappings.
Peer buys her wax from New York and it contains damar crystals, which give the wax a permanency because of the high melting point.
She sometimes uses a heat gun to "chase" oil sticks around and create various patterns on the wax. Occasionally, she even uses a black marker on the outer surface.
When she first witnessed the encaustic style of making art, she was entranced.
"When I first saw it I thought it was the most glorious surface I'd ever seen," said Peer. "You want to touch it, which is not a good thing because it leaves finger marks all over it."
D.A.T.E. editor Jim Dyar can be reached at 225-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.