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Art from endless parts

'Faux Real,' one of three new exhibits at Laguna Art Museum, features sculptures made with unconventional materials.

May 30, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Stephanie Syjuco's "vases" on display for upcoming new exhibition "Faux Real" at Laguna Art Museum.
Stephanie Syjuco's "vases" on display… (Don Leach )

When Gifford Myers was 10 years old, he built a functioning car out of plywood, canvas, fiberglass, wheels and an engine.

The following year, he pieced together an engineless single-seater, which was then entered in the National Soapbox Derby.

"I came third out of three," he said. "But it didn't bother me that I didn't win — the joy was in making it."

Once bitten by the sculpting bug, no project seemed too big to tackle. In the years since, Myers moved on to photography, architecture and painting. Sculpture remained his favorite, though, allowing him to dig through a extensive list of materials, including plastic, cement, metal, wood and others.

Now, at 64, the Altadena resident is among 19 artists featured in "Faux Real," a new exhibit at Laguna Art Museum that features unorthodox sculptures — a porcelain cigar box, clay doughnuts and pastries, a pile of National Geographic magazines whipped out of fabric and a beat-up car bumper, which on closer inspection reveals canvas and paint, to name a few elements.

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"Sea Change: Tanya Aguiñiga's Bluebelt Forest" and "ex•pose: beatriz da costa" are also slated to open simultaneously. An opening night reception will celebrate the arrival of new work from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Contemporary art curator Grace Kook-Anderson, who studied at UC Berkeley and is familiar with artists from that neck of the woods, drew on her connections throughout the state for the shows' lineup.

With its pop culture-type references, "Faux Real" is an extension of the funk movement of the 1960s and '70s and highlights great craftsmanship, she said. The show brings together older creators, who pioneered traditions, and younger ones, who ran with what was passed down to them.

"These artists have created playful things from clay, not pristine vessels," Kook-Anderson said.

Fairfax resident Richard Shaw spent 24 years leading classrooms in Berkeley, where he met Kook-Anderson, and 20 years before that at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Joking that he "started drawing because he couldn't read or write," Shaw contributed "Past Habits" — a cigar box containing an open packet of Camel cigarettes and some burned matches — as well as "Still Life with Skull and Glass" — glazed porcelain depicting two books, a deer skull and blown glass that appears to contain alcohol or a murky-colored liquid.

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