I took the overtimers at the Mendocino Avenue office pizza for lunch on Saturday. Right across the street, at the corner of Mendocino and 7th, a vacant storefront hosts one of Santa Rosa’s phantom galleries. Phantom galleries, what a cool idea! The city allows the Art Council to mount shows or installations in vacant commercial space. This gets someone into the (many) vacant storefronts and gives new artists some exposure.
The artist on display is David Glendening, a UC Davis grad with a degree in Art Studio (should I know what that is?) and Creative Writing. The name of the show is “Ghosts; Loss, Memory and Regrowth,” and Saturday was its last day, so I got lucky since I went in totally on impulse. You can find Glendening on Facebook at Facebook.com/Daniel-J-Glendening/47813568364.
His main installation sat in the center of the room. I don’t know which piece it was, by title. (I could guess. . . The Hermit’s Cabin?) It looked like a burned out house; papier mache walls painted to look scorched; real bits of wooden fence, pennants of torn fabric suspended, beams stacked to look as if a structure had fallen in on itself. When I walked closer and looked down into the piece I could see the layers, scraps of tinsel, Christmas lights, cloth, etc. Around the edges were rock-like lumps made of paper wrapped with masking tape in Day-Glo colors; yellow, hot pink, green. I’m a fan of narrative art so this piece, with its story, touched me. He also had a trio of beautiful panels that looked like topo maps or the plot of a seismograph. The docent who greeted me shortly after I came in said she liked the panels the best—she said the radiating lines, with broader and broader gaps between them as the design flowed out from the center, reminded her of “her own memory gaps.” I agreed. She’s in her thirties. The woman doesn’t know from memory gaps.
Glendening also had a large tactile piece made of wooden pallets topped by a “head”—I’m stretching here—with what looked like handmade paper mask and long thick strands of hemp twine as hair. It cried out to be touched; both the docent and I resisted, but she said she thought she could wear the headpiece, it was that appealing.
This particular phantom gallery will be moving to a store-front two buildings behind it; next to the 7th Street parking structure. There is good news; the storefront they are currently in has been rented to the comic book store across the street. One tiny benefit of a down-turning economy.
After I left I walked back towards the parking structure. There had been several businesses in the trio of shopfronts back there. All three of them are currently vacant.
Anyway, I hope the new phantom gallery gets lots of foot traffic from the parking structure, and I hope we see more of Glendening’s work around the county.