Thursday, September 16, 1999
"It still hurts him when he sculpts," says Nyanhongo, 31, his soft, mellifluous voice not raising a decibel as he talks about his memories of the conflict that wracked his country, and led to the new nation of Zimbabwe in 1980.
His father, Claud Nyanhongo, was one of the founders of the Zimbabwe Sculpture Movement, a powerful artistic force that emerged in the late 1950s and is today arguably the most significant--and well-known--artistic movement in Africa. Gedion, who learned sculpting at his father''s knee, is now a successful sculptor in his own right, widely considered the shining light of the movement''s second generation. An exhibit of his stone sculptures opens with a reception Saturday at the Phillips Gallery in Carmel.
There is no anger in Nyanhongo''s stone figures. Carved in the gray-black of springstone, or the olive-gray of olive stone--all quarried from Zimbabwe''s earth and chosen by hand by the artist--his figures look inward and slightly upward, with closed, rounded eyes, radiating a quiet calm, a peaceful strength. They are solid figures, grounded in the earth: a woman carrying grain, a man with a lamb slung over his shoulder. They know who they are, as Nyanhongo knows who he is.
The first generation of Zimbabwean stone sculptors, he explains, produced art that seemed tighter, more constrained, because of the conditions in which they were brought up. "There was a shyness in them, feelings they couldn''t express openly, caused by the war betwen white and black in Zimbabwe at the time," he says. "Their work was more ''spiritual,'' they had a way of hiding what they wanted to say. A black person was not considered a real person. We were taught to demean ourselves.
"I missed that time of oppression," he continues. "When I went to school, we were already taught, ''You are person enough.'' There''s a spirit of freedom in me which is reflected in my pieces, compared to the older generation''s work."
This is Nyanhongo''s second visit to the United States, and his second show at Carmel''s Phillips Gallery. His connection to the Central Coast was forged in 1993, when he met Braden Coolidge, a UC Santa Cruz social work student who was doing a six-month internship in Zimbabwe. Coolidge fell in love with the artwork of the Zimbabwe Sculpture Movement, began hanging out with the artists in Harare, and soon became fast friends with Nyanhongo, whose work he greatly admired.
Coolidge returned to Santa Cruz and in 1995 opened the Mudzimu Gallery to represent the artists he''d befriended. In 1997, he moved the gallery to Carmel, and was soon after asked by the Phillips Gallery to show some of the art in their 6th Avenue space. Today, Coolidge represents close to a dozen Zimbabwean sculptors, but considers Nyanhongo''s work the best of the group.
"Gedion''s work is cerebral, passionate," Coolidge says. "He clearly has a message, and has found a way to say what he wants in stone."
Nyanhongo''s work has been quite successful in this country, in a short time. His prices have risen "300 to 800 percent" in the past few years, Coolidge notes. In part, he''s ridden the wave of rising popular interest in African art, particularly of Zimbabwe''s Shona tribe, to which Nyanhongo belongs. But that''s proved a mixed blessing, Coolidge points out--he risks being lumped in with the great mass of what Coolidge dismisses as "airport art, stuff that''s churned out for the tourists," mass-produced stone sculptures that trade on the Shona name, but lack the stamp of an individual artist.
"The beauty in Gedion''s work is that he''s documenting a time and place in Zimbabwe," Coolidge says. "The first generation of artists were deeply rooted in their traditional culture. The second generation lives in a different society, more urbanized, more ''advanced.''"
For Nyanhongo, the tension between old and new in his world is a central motif in his art, a motif he often represents through images of mothers holding their children. He focuses on figurative work, the human form, particularly people engaging in everyday activities, to express his universal message of love in a way that is easily accessible to people in other cultures. In "Showing My Child the Way," a woman "shows" her child how to grind grain into meal, much as Nyanhongo''s mother prepared food for her family when he was growing up. "Today we use electricity and gas, but technology has made our life very stressful," he notes. "The old way was a very nice way of living."
Nyanhongo has preserved at least one part of his father''s generation''s way of sculpting, which is to look for the "spirit" residing in each piece of stone before commencing work. "I look for stones without cracks, solid pieces," he says. "These are pieces that are open enough so you can easily see what it wants to be. There is life in each piece that deserves respect before I ''command'' it to be what I want it to be. There is a spirit in every material. If you treat it with respect, it will give back to you by being very strong, and making people happy. Then people look at it, sit back and smile."
Feeling the Rhythm: An Exhibition in Stone opens with a reception Saturday from 5-8pm at the Phillips Gallery in Carmel. Later today, Nyanhongo is teaching the second day of a two-day workshop at Carmel High School.Art Events
Ansel Adams Gallery Rhythm of Light. Opening Reception. Platinum-palladium and silver photographs by Ryuijie. Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17 Mile Dr., Pebble Beach. 375-7215. Reception: 9/18, 5-7pm. Through: 9/15.
Center for Photographic Art 9th Annual Center Awards. Call for Entries. The Center is now accepting submissions for its international photographic juried exhibition. This is a non-thematic competition, open to all photographic media including digital and mixed media. Over 40 artists will be selected for the December exhibit; cash awards will be made. Deadline is Oct. 12. Call the Center at 625-5181, or visit www.photography.org.
City of Pacific Grove Call for Entries. Applications are being sought for Phase II of the Pacific Grove Historical Mural Project. Mural will be painted at the Pacific Grove Cleaners, 222 Grand Ave.; the subject must be Jim-Jim''s turn-of-the-century Chinese laundry. Pick up applications at City Hall, 300 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. Deadline is 9/20. 648-3100.
Family Sketch and Hike Local artist Jane Flury leads a family sketch and hike in Garland Park. No experience needed, but reservations essential. Sun. 9/19, 10am-2pm, meet at Garland Park Visitor''s Center. $16/Monterey Museum of Art members, $20/members, half-price children under 12. 373-2061.
Jones & Terwiller Galleries Opening Reception. One-man show by Mark Geller. San Carlos Street between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 626-9200. Reception: 9/18, 6-9pm. Through: 9/26.
Martin LaBorde Gallery Opening Reception. Jazz paintings and prints by Don Ransom, and additional works by Elizabeth Palmer. Reception: 9/18, 4-8pm. 6th Avenue between Dolores and Lincoln streets, Carmel. 620-1150. Through: 10/16.
Matrix Arts Call for Entries. Matrix Arts, a nonprofit arts organization in Sacramento, invites artists to submit slides of their work for its exhibition screening for monthly exhibits beginning in the year 2001. Please send your slides to: Attn.Exhibitions Screening, MATRIX ARTS, 1518 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815 or email: www.martrixarts.org. For more information, call (916) 923-9118.
Monterey Conference Center Exhibitions Call for Entries. The Colton Hall Museum and Cultural Arts Commission of the city of Monterey invite artists to submit proposals for art exhibitions in the Alvarado Gallery at the Monterey Conference Center beginning Jan. 2000. Pick up applications at Colton Hall Museum daily, 10am-noon, or 1-5pm. Applications must be received by Oct. 15. Civic Center, Pacific Street, Monterey. 646-5640.
Morgan''s Coffee & Tea Opening Reception. Mis Raices: Celebrating Chicano Cultural Heritage through the Arts. Paintings and drawings by Mexican-American artist Noe J. Hinojosa. Reception: 9/16, 5-8pm. 498 Washington St., Monterey. 373-5601. Through: 9/30.
Phillips Gallery of Fine Art Feeling the Rhythm: An Exhibition in Stone. Opening Reception. Stone sculptures by Zimbabwe artist Gedion Nyanhongo (see article above). 6th Avenue between Dolores and Lincoln streets, Carmel. 626-4285. Reception: 9/18, 5-8pm. Through: 10/8.
Salinas Courthouse Opening Reception. A new program that places works by local artists in government buildings continues, with new exhibitions opening 9/20 in the Salinas and Monterey courthouses. On Tuesday, 9/21 at noon, a reception will be held in the Salinas Courthouse courtyard. Bring lunch, listen to music, learn how the program was created, and tour the exhibit, Art and Agriculture. Alisal and Church streets, Salinas. Call 622-9060 for information.
Sculpture House and Gardens Opening Reception. Life-size bronze sculptures of women by Lorraine Capparell, acrylics by Francine Markoe. Hwy. 1, Carmel Highlands. 624-2476. Reception: 9/18, 4-6pm. Through: 10/15.
Venture Gallery Opening Reception. Stone and bronze sculptures and ceramic vessels by Kristine Safford. 260 Alvarado Mall, DoubleTree Hotel, Monterey. 372-6279. Reception: 9/18, 6-8pm. Through: 9/30.
Back Porch Fabrics and Quilt Gallery Scissors. Exhibit. Quilts by Jeanne Pryor. 157 Grand Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-4453. Through: 10/14.
Carl Cherry Center for the Arts New Assemblages and Paintings. Exhibit. Book-related art and other works by Hope Kroll. 4th Avenue and Guadalupe Street, Carmel. 624-7491. Through: 10/15.
Carmel Art Association Exhibit. Watercolors by W.F. Stone; plein air watercolors of California scenes by Rollin Pickford; and works by five CAA artists in the September Gallery Showcase. Dolores Street between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 624-6176. Through: 10/6.
Carmel Valley Manor Exhibit. Watercolors and pencil and ink sketches by William L. Stanley. 8545 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. 626-4806. Through: 9/30.
Center for Photographic Art Sojourn. Exhibit. Still-life photographs and giclee prints by Maggie Taylor. Sunset Center, San Carlos Street at 9th Avenue, Carmel. 625-5181. Through: 10/29.
Dyansen Gallery M.L. Snowden and the Legacy of Rodin. Exhibit. Bronze sculptures by M.L. Snowden, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement sculpture award by the National Sculture Society. Carmel Plaza, Mission Street at Ocean Avenue, Carmel. 625-6903. Through: 9/30.
Galeria Tonantzin Ancient Myths and Modern Urban Legends. Exhibit. Artworks portraying myths of heritage and modern definitions of past and present legends, presented by the South Bay Women''s Caucus for the Arts. 115 3rd St., San Juan Bautista. 623-2783. Through: 10/10.
Galerie Plein Aire Springtime in Tuscany. Exhibit. Works by Informalist Barry John Raybould, from his recent trip to Tuscany. Dolores Street between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 625-5686. Through: 9/30.
Grove Homescapes Annual Calendar Show. Exhibit. Twelve artists depict the seasons of the calendar. 472 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 656-0864. Through: 10/31.
Highlands Inn Light the Flame. Exhibit. Photographs by William Giles. Hwy. 1 south of Carmel, Carmel Highlands. 624-3801. Through: 12/3.
KAZU''s Up To Date Oklahoma Pastels. Exhibit. English artist Sylvia Bancroft-Hunt presents her vision of Oklahoma in the first of three exhibitions devoted to European artists'' views of that Midwest state. 167 Central Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-7275. Through: 9/30.
Monterey Conference Center, Alvarado
Gallery Shades of Monterey. Exhibit. More than 80 old family photographs from Monterey''s past, focusing on the early and middle years of the century, donated by city residents to the Monterey Public Library''s photo archives. Co-presented by Colton Hall Museum. #1 Portola Plaza, Monterey. 646-3858. Through: 11/15.
Monterey Museum of Art--Civic Center Exhibit. Jazz paintings by Carmel artist Frank Ashley. Through: 11/28. Also, Duke Ellington: Photographs by Leigh Wiener. A small selection of photos of the jazz great by the late photojournalist, in conjunction with the 1999 Monterey Jazz Festival''s tribute to Ellington. Through: 11/14. 559 Pacific St., Monterey. 372-5477.
Monterey Museum of Art--La Mirada Exhibit. Digital Frontiers: Photography''s Future at Nash Editions. Exhibit. Experimental color and black-and-white digital ink-jet prints by various artists and photographers. 720 Via Mirada, Monterey. 372-5477.
Monterey Peninsula Airport Main Streets of Monterey County and Footprints of History. Exhibit. Antique photographs, personal recollections and memorabilia chronicling the history and transformation of local main streets; also, murals of Monterey County''s history by 4th-graders at Tularcitos School in Carmel Valley. 200 Fred Kane Dr., Monterey. 624-7910. Through: 9/30.
Mudzimu Gallery Exhibit. New paintings by Santa Cruz artist James Aschbacher; sculptures from Zimbabwe. San Carlos Mall between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 626-2946. Through: 11/29.
National Steinbeck Center Bombs Away: Training for War. Exhibit. World War II Air Force training photographs by John Swope, from his 1942 assignment with John Steinbeck. 1 Main St., Salinas. 796-3833. Through: 10/17.
Pacific Grove Art Center Monterey County Artists Studio Tour ''99. Exhibit. Annual showcase of works by artists participating in the 1999 studio tour Sept. 25-26; Also, Desert Landscapes, colored pencil works by Katherin McKay; and Incantations, paintings by Diane Romaine. 568 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-2208. Through: 9/24.
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History Ed Ricketts: Out of the Tidepools. Exhibit. The life and work of the real Ed Ricketts, the man behind Steinbeck''s fictionalized "Doc" Ricketts, including previously unknown photographs and letters, through 9/19; Also, Madagascar''s Biodiversity and Conservation, through 10/17. 165 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. 648-3116.
Pajaro Valley Arts Council Political Art and Propaganda. Exhibit. Propaganda posters from China and the world wars, and contemporary art with a satiric edge. 37 Sudden St., Watsonville. 722-3062. Through: 10/16.
Pebble Beach Post Office Exhibit. Watercolors by Harry Wareham. The Lodge at Pebble Beach, 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach. Through: 9/30.
Pitzer''s of Carmel Exhibit. Showcase of new works by Peninsula landscape painters Molly Martin and Maurice Harvey. Dolores Street between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 625-2288. Through: 9/12.
Sally Griffin Senior Center Exhibit. Oil paintings by Larry Bell. 700 Jewell Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-4454. Through: 9/30.
Santa Catalina School Gallery Viewpoints. Exhibit. A multimedia exhibition features works of art by the faculty and staff of Santa Catalina School. 1500 Mark Thomas Dr., Monterey. 655-9300. Through: 10/11.
Seaside City Hall Jazz Art Show. Exhibit. Entries from Seaside''s jazz art show are on display in the City Hall gallery. 440 Harcourt Ave., Seaside. 899-6336. Through: 10/2.
Sunset Center Exhibit. Central Coast Art Association''s member juried show. Marjorie Evans Gallery, San Carlos Avenue at 8th Street, Carmel. 372-2841. Through: 9/30.
Valley Art Gallery Florabunda. Exhibit. Watercolors by Susan Dunklau. 218 Main St., Salinas. 422-4162. Through: 9/26.
Vest Pocket Gallery The Kids. Exhibit. Juanita Anderson''s summer school children''s work from Robert Down school. Forest Hill Manor, 551 Gibson St., Pacific Grove. 657-5200. Through: 9/30.
Weston Gallery Exhibit. Photographs by Ansel Adams and Brett Weston. 6th Avenue, between Dolores and Lincoln streets, Carmel. 624-4453. Through: 11/16.
Zantman Art Galleries Exhibit. Duane Alt, Contemporary American Impressionist. 6th Avenue at Mission Street, Carmel. 624-8314. Through: 10/8.