Polly Frizzell: Transit and Transcendence by Dewitt Cheng

    The dichotomy between body and soul in traditional philosophy and religion continues, even in the rational age of scientific materialism. Magic and mystery and hunger for transcendence persist in the human psyche, not to be denied. Analogous to this split between mortal body and immortal soul is contemporary art's schism between style and content, arising from modernist experimentation and the rejection of the traditional beliefs of earlier art, religious and mythological claptrap serving the social order. (Does this sound familiar in 2016?) The exaltation of style and the alienation of modern artists from society have however, a downside. Too much art today seems made of, by, and for an elite art world, and is thus irrelevant to most people. Leo Tolstoy complained about this abandonment of the psychological moorings of traditional religion in the late nineteenth century, in What is Art? Today, after a century-plus of modernism and postmodernism, the art world indulges in its own brand of magical thinking, assuming that anything can be transmuted into art, and will be recognized as such, someday, so we automatically give the benefit of the doubt—who are we to judge?— to a lot of truly doubtful work. To reverse the old cliche, we know about art, but we don't know what we like—until tastemakers anoint it, that is. Artists, historically, have not been so complacent or diffident: Ben Shahn said, in the 1930s. that style is the form of content, i.e., its optimal realization; art's form, by this thinking, is not animated or justified by verbal meanings or interpretations, but a poetic living thing born of the imagination...continue reading essay

Polly Frizzell: Me and My Shadow by Maria Porges

    Polly Frizzell's fabricated images and objects are a series of gestures, both considered and heartfelt, that point towards the transcendence of nothing. Put another way, they take us on a journey to nothing from something. Freestanding sculptures combine found elements with fabricated parts into elegant contraptions that refer to the act of looking, but in reverse: the gaze, as a means for exploring the mysteries of Inner Space. In Watertower, a mysterious shadow dances erratically inside a tiny illuminated chamber. It grows larger and smaller and larger again, the way grief or love might, or the absence of any feeling at all. A doll, set into motion by a computer fan, is the source of this disquieting ballet, but her shadow-self is what we watch...continue reading essay


    Polly Frizzell lives and works in Berkeley, California. Her mixed-media pieces have been included in exhibitions at galleries throughout California, including Rena Bransten Gallery and Upper Market Street Gallery in San Francisco, Elizabeth Fortner Gallery in Santa Barbara, the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

    When Frizzell is not engaged in art making, she's busy playing fiddle in the Bay Are bluegrass band, "Redwing."


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