Yolie and I went to Slo town last night for the opening of “Local Papers” at the Art Center. My mom had a monoprint in the show, a piece called “2nd International”, a fuzzy gray portrait of a guy in glasses, big startled eyes, bald head, a wonderful, funny piece. She didn’t even tell us she had entered, so that was a nice surprise.
We mainly went to see Nicholaus Kopp’s work. He’s a local guy who lives in a crazy dump by the old elementary school. We always see him on our walks up by the cemetary. He takes his big black wolf-dog for walks by driving infinitely slowly up and down Bridge street with the dog following behind. When he catches sight of us he pulls over and opens the back door and the dog climbs in, also slowly. Nick shuts the door and cruises by. We say hi and wave and he goes a hundred yards or so and lets the dog out again.
A couple of years ago I had a couple of pieces in a photography show and we bumped into Nick at the opening, and it was kind of like seeing the Queen of England at a UFC cage match. Unexpected. I just thought he was a nice, crazy, reclusive, hermit who lived holed up in our little town and never went anywhere except to walk his dog. ( I love being proved wrong, esp. when I have such stupid, stupid, stupid ideas…)
So I asked Nick what he was doing at the show, and he smiled and hung his head and said he had a piece in the show. We ran over and checked it out, and I was totally blown away. A big black and white photo of a silvery hubcap, a dead hawk, old hand tools, all hanging on a metal rack. The hawk’s body was overlapping the edge of the hubcap, and in the curved surface of the hubcap you could see old Nick leaning in with his camera, snapping the photo….it was a powerful piece, totemic. And technically strong, wonderful. He didn’t take best in show, but he should have.
Anyway, now he’s in this three person show, and that’s what we went to see. Nick’s new work was a bunch of ray-o-grams, springs and tools and objects laid out in jangly, electric patterns on big negatives and exposed so that they become white squiggles and lines on a perfect black field. Also a series of spray-painted works on cardboard, very graphic and flat and colorful. Nick was wandering around with a plastic cup of bad red wine and looking intently at each piece in the show, smiling the whole time.
We ran into Dave, who told us about his cross-country bike trip with Paolo this summer. Twenty-four years ago he walked the Continental divide from Canada to Mexico. This time he went across the other way. Two months, a big adventure. He was so moved by the experience, it was wonderful to see. He invited us to come by the house and grab some pears cause they couldn’t keep up with them.
Dave introduced us to Hope Kroll, who had about twenty-five pieces in the show. Incredible collages of images from ancient medical textbooks cut out and pasted onto old, yellowed papers, combined with pics of birds, little girls on swings, tiny dolls, machine parts, etc. She showed us a bunch of her work that wasn’t hanging, older works of altered books….just incredible. She’s doing stuff that is very similar to what Yolie’s up to now, and me, too, I guess. It was mind-blowingly good work, and she lives right in Paso Robles. She’s as good as anyone I’ve ever seen. She told us about her last show, at a local winery. She hung the show, they looked at it all, whispered and hmmmed, then asked her to take it all down.
Said they saw themselves as a ‘family’ winery….
Anyway. A wonderful night, great people, great art, a great time….
An embarassment of riches.