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In this section:

The New Bay Bridge

— September 2013

Associated media

New works by Christy Kovacs and John Ruszel

September 6–28

Vessel Gallery celebrates the opening of 'The NEW Bay Bridge' with artworks by Christy Kovacs and John Ruszel.  The exciting new structure, essential to the daily lives of those in the Bay Area, will open almost 25 years after a portion collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.  Christy Kovacs and John Ruszel have revealed through their artworks the importance of such a structure, highlighting the social cultural impact, the thoughts behind the engineering of such a feat, and the spiritual strength inherent in undertaking an effort to overcome nature.  Kovacs has taken her photographic weavings of freeways to include an array of media, including photo assemblage, combine painting, and sculpture.  Ruszel continues his explorations of tension, suspension, and fulcrum, architecting sculpture with precision and finely honed engineering.

The exhibition opens on 6 September, 6–9p.m., musical performance presented by Classical Revolution: Musical Art Quintet and Telegraph Trio

Artist Talk Series Saturday, 14 September, 2–3,30p.m., refreshments following, and 3.30–5.30p.m. Music presented by Classical Revolution.

Christy Kovacs said:

My work in this show is a celebration of the Bay Area's central transportation structures, the lifeblood between our communities.  I explore a variety of visual and conceptual perspectives, envisioning our local bridges and freeways as abstract art, sculptural pieces, and as large-scale musical instruments.  Yet, at the same time, I reflect on the social and environmental issues that lie beneath these structures.  

Freeways are powerful tools for connecting people, but they also build up walls between them and alienate individuals from the very landscapes they travel.  It is this darker underbelly of transportation structures that I also address in this show. For example, thick black paint runs parallel to the roads suggesting that the curving ramps are brushstrokes in their own right, works of art created by an artist engineer.  But the landscape has been obliterated, ‘painted over; by brushstrokes suggestive of thick black oil--the resource that keeps these structures in heavy use.

Artist Yutaka Sone claims the Los Angeles freeways are our version of the domes and towers of Europe.  Architectural critic Reyner Banham was in agreement, regarding the bougainvillea-veiled intersection of the 10 and the 405 as one of the ‘greater works of man’.  Similarly, my work holds freeways as works of art and evidence of great civic achievement, but also recognizes that works of man are flawed, have social repercussions, and are subject to the destructive forces of nature and time.

My hope is that viewers' previous notions of freeways will be challenged and expanded.  As they travel the Escher-esque web of elevated roads while approaching SFO, I hope they can appreciate, with a child's sense of wonder, how the chaotic maze from within dissolves into a graceful elegance from above, and marvel at these structures that connect, yet divide, but are ultimately weakened by the one true master – time.

John Ruszel said:

At this point in my life, I cross the bay six or so times a week but I don't think about the bridge that much. Or at least not of the bridge that is meant to be a new grand symbol for the Bay Area. Maybe that all feels a bit too abstract.

Instead, I think of the bridge as its constituent parts. I try to tease those parts away from the whole. I try to pull out the individual elements and see them not as parts of this bridge, or of bridges in general, but as parts of our physical language. I try to read that language developed through generations of trial and error and bursts of inspiration. Those ideas are what I find inspiring. Those objects are my start point.  

Vessel Gallery
471  25th Street
CA 94612,
510 893 8800  

Gallery Hours:  Tuesday through Saturday, 11a.m.–6p.m.

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