by Amie Rangel
COS Art Gallery Presents In Ink featuring works by John Chang and Gregg Stone
January 29 – February 21
There are trends in the art world just like there are trends in fashion, music, and politics. The first exhibition of the spring semester in the COS Art Gallery will be supporting one the latest trends in the art world – exposing the subtlety and beauty of street art, graffiti, tattoos, and words as symbols. In the right context this new trend of art can be presented in ways that are meaningful, powerful, and thought provoking. In Ink will run from January 29th – February 21. The opening reception is on Thursday, January 31st from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and as always it is free and open to the public.
There has been a cultural shift of tattoos becoming more popular and widely accepted. It is not just for the rough characters on the “wrong side of the tracks” as often stereotyped a decade or so ago. Tattoos are now often displayed on people from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, ages, and gender. Historically such as with Ancient Egyptians, Native Americans, and the traditional etch like Ta moko tattoos of the Maori people in New Zealand, forms of inking where used in many early societies as a way to show others their family history, tribal affiliations, and social structure. Today a person may get a tattoo for a variety of reasons, but regardless, that image and/or text symbolizes something… and when depictions are carefully and delicately painted using watercolors in a photorealistic approach the markings become even more meaningful.Artist Gregg Stone integrates watercolor, gouache, and ink on paper in a way that adds reverence and significance to the tattoos on a person and graffiti on a wall or overpass in a way that allows the viewer to gain a humanistic entry point into a world that many of us may not be willing to enter. After living on the streets himself for many years, Stone states “it is hard to say where an artistic inspiration might come… I would realize a life of self-imposed misery and poverty; a life wrought with alcohol and drug addiction… but out of this was born an artistic obsession.” The portrait subjects in his highly detailed paintings are captured with such fidelity that the complexity and variety of symbols within the tattoos become secondary and the connection to the person being depicted is formed.
Our other featured artist, John Chang, creates bold calligraphic shapes on a multi-layered surface with acrylic paint, newspaper, and mixed media on canvas. Immigrating to Boston from China to further his studies in art, Chang states “the great chasm between communist China and capitalist America… belonging to both worlds and to neither, I recognized the social construction of cultural codes and their impact on identity.” Chang’s work recalls his experiences of his native country and that the traditional teachings and practice of calligraphy was an essential part of a student’s education. He states, “Chinese students must devote many years to memorizing several thousand characters. In the public squares and walls, big calligraphic characters are constant reminders of the collective voice and so people discount the empty rhetoric of the official media… By invoking calligraphic forms, I am commenting on the distortion of language, but I am also reclaiming the energy of the written word. Calligraphy expresses the shared space of the personal and the political.”
Gregg Stone is currently the Art Director of Designs Alive in Santa Ana and is a freelance illustrator for Brentwood Publishing Co. in Los Angeles, California. He is tenth generation Californian and his Mexican heritage reflects in his extensive exhibition record throughout California and Mexico. Stone holds a Bachelor of Arts degree for illustration and design from the Art Center of Design in Los Angeles and an Associate of Arts degree from Orange Coast College in Orange County, California.
Born and raised in Shanghai, China, John Chang moved to the United States to attend graduate school where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Art Institute of Boston. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Decorative Arts and Design from Shanghai Light Industry College. Chang’s work has been widely exhibited including the Alexander Brest Museum in Jacksonville, FL; Santa Fe, NM; Lawrence, KS; as well as a commissioned art project for the San Diego International Airport.
The COS Art Gallery is located on the ground floor, room 214 of the Kaweah Building. Free parking is available on the night of the reception in lots 3 and 7. If coming to the gallery during the day, 20 minute parking is available in lot 3 at the corner of Meadow Lane and Mooney Blvd or in the half circle off Mooney Blvd.
Our hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, & Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For further information call the COS Art Gallery at 737-4861 or visit the COS website at www.cos.edu. Don’t forget to ‘like’ us on Facebook to receive news on upcoming events.