‘Change Required’ — art exhibit brings change of pace to SLOMA
By AmberKiwan / Posted on 05 April 2011

Culture and politics made its way into the dark cartoonish sketches and whimsical pastel backgrounds of the new paintings on display at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (SLOMA).

Alternative artist Russ Pope’s painting exhibit “Change Required” will be featured at SLOMA until Thursday, April 21. Courtesy photo.

The double entendre of the “Change Required” exhibit encapsulates the messages that alternative artist Russ Pope, whose style strays from traditional artwork, hopes to convey.

The paintings in the exhibit address the questions: When is it time for change? Can you spare some change? Is change in the air? Do you embrace change? How do ideas change? And, is change required?

“Each piece has a small message,” Pope said. “Most of my work is based on social commentary. Every individual gets something different out of it.”

For example, Pope said one of his paintings is loosely based on social media and advertising.

“It visually tells a story of the change from print ads to being blasted on every level intellectually, by (digital) advertising,” Pope said.

The paintings, which are mostly acrylic and ink on either canvas or wood, draw inspiration from human interaction, music and life in general, Pope said.

Pope also incorporates skateboarding into his art, which makes sense since he said he is as heavily involved in the skate industry (he currently works for Vans) as he is with his art.

Five unique, hand-painted skateboards will be part of the “Change Required” exhibit. Each board is uniformly numbered on the bottom, but will feature individually exclusive characters on the top.

The exhibit is expected to attract a younger crowd.

“The art is different and definitely something younger people can appreciate, especially the skateboard aspect,” liberal studies senior Janelle Leza said. “I also like art more when it has a deeper meaning.”

SLOMA assistant director Muara Johnston said “Change Required” will be featured during this month’s Art After Art After Dark, which is a community art sharing and appreciation event similar to Art After Dark, only later and aimed at a younger, high school and college-age crowd.

This event usually displays the art of various local artists, spontaneously created and based on a chosen theme. This month, however, the only art on display will be the “Change Required” exhibit.

Johnston said Art after Art After Dark, which is from 9 to 11 p.m. on Friday night, provides musical entertainment and sets the scene for people to hang out, enjoy the art and engage in conversation with the artists and fellow peers.

“That’s the purpose of Art after Art After Dark,” Johnston said. “So how appropriate is Russ? He wants you to discuss art and politics and current environmental issues. He wants to pique your interest and get you talking about stuff.”

Although this is true, Pope said he does not want socialization to take away from the actual purpose of the show: the art.

“Hopefully they’ll leave having seen some cool art,” Pope said. “There are a lot of art shows where they want to make it a social event and people don’t pay any attention to the art.”

Pope said socialization is great, especially since his art has messages of social commentary, but all of that is secondary to the art itself.

All of his art begins as drawings in a sketchbook, inspired by people he has encountered in life, whether it be through his travels or his life experiences in the skate industry.

Pope spent about a third of his adult life living in San Luis Obispo, but has traveled all over the U.S. and the world with skate teams, as both a rider and a manager.

“Change Required” is open from April 1 to April 21 at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

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