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It's a 'Cultural Fusion' at California Center for the Arts


Last updated 9/7/2007 at Noon

Andy Warhol stated, “Everybody’s sense of beauty is different from everybody else’s,” and that’s just what makes an eclectic exhibit such as “Cultural Fusion” at the California Center for the Arts Museum so popular. Modern art, Native American baskets and photographs of actors have united in a show that will leave the visitor in awe of the creative powers of the human mind.

A unique photographic exhibit called “In Character: Actors Acting” was written, directed and photographed by Howard Schatz. The actors were given a one-line description of a situation and then photographed at close range. For expression, the actors were only able to use their heads and hands. Be prepared to spend a great deal of time with this exhibit – it exudes emotion.

Michael Douglas was told to portray “a kid at a carnival watching a performer munch live cockroaches.” The resulting expression was one of such repulsion that you could almost touch the emotion.

“Hearing your adolescent daughter proudly announce that she’s had ‘something’ pierced,” was the directive for Chevy Chase. The photograph of his face showed a subtle mingling of anger, fear, disgust, confusion and even a mimic of betrayal.

Master actor Henry Winkler was directed to interpret “taking a late-night shortcut through a back alley in a bad neighborhood, hearing the echo of your own footsteps.” The fear was evident in the set of Winkler’s jaw and mouth, but the dread in his wide eyes was strongly transferred to the viewer.

Modern art makes up much of the show and an artist named Christie Beniston has created a stunning ceramic work entitled “Steeples” which almost defies description. This brilliant piece is bright, and made more so with strategically placed floodlights. Eight pillars of ceramic sandwiches are about forty pieces high. This work deserves careful observation, as each piece of this “sandwich” is unique.

Whimsical and a bit “Dr. Seuss-ish,” the pillars look like they could topple at any minute. The top pieces are similar in design but of varying colors – deep orange, bright yellow and black-and-white-striped like the Cheshire Cat’s tail. Coffee cups, stars, donuts, flower petals, starfish and other designs all gleam in the floodlights in a hodgepodge of color that blends to create a visually and mentally stimulating work of art. It might represent a fusion of cultures in the world, but it might represent something else entirely. Come see for yourself!

Artist Shauna Peck has several pieces that are worth contemplation. She uses the “encaustic technique,” a wax method of painting with an “otherworldly” effect dating to as early as AD 100.

Her “Ladder” piece stands free in a bed of salt crystals. The nine-runged wax ladder is wrapped with yellow- and red-tinged barbed wire. Does it symbolize the climb through life? Does the red symbolize the shed blood from the “barbs” we encounter in our life’s climb? The presence of the red to the very top rung may mean that the barbs in life will hurt, and draw blood, but not enough blood to prevent us from reaching the top rung. Whatever your take is on this clever artist’s piece, it will be unique – your own – and leave you somewhat changed.


California Center for the Arts

340 N. Escondido Blvd.


(760) 839-4120

Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sun.-12 p.m.-4 p.m.

Nominal admission fee

First Wednesday of every month free


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