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Sculpture with a vibe

From clay to toy darts, just about any material goes at Huntington Beach Art Center's new exhibit.

October 28, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani

"I don't want the audience spending their time wondering, 'What is that?'" he said. "I'd rather they spend their time thinking about how I've used the material. Thinking of the sign pieces, I could've just had road signs made, but that's a material that's readily ignored and looked too much like some form of official dogma. The pieces would be dead. By using paper and messy screen printing, it made the work expressive, so the final pieces kind of exist in a place between art and road signs."

At a time when people are inundated with information and images, Duffy mulled over artists' responsibilities.

"If creating illusions is the norm, then what's the role of an artist?" he asked. "In the past, artists took people to illusions, so, now, is it the role of the artist to take people to reality?"

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'Precious things'

Kate Hoffman, the art center's executive director, believes that "Reverberation" challenges the expected norms of sculpture. Walking through the gallery last Tuesday, she pointed out her favorite piece in the project room: Meeson Pae Yang's resin, glass and acrylic work that spins in light emanating from a projector, which reminded her of winter in New England with moonlight trickling through bare, ice-laden trees, she said.

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Nearby, the sound of "Mele Kalikimaka," a Hawaiian-themed Christmas song, floated out from a Polynesian dance class while a teacher discussed horns and capes with her cartoon drawing students. Enthusiastic sounds suddenly filled the exhibition space as a group of tots made a beeline toward white pails filled with darts, pausing to peer at Kristen Morgin's "Smokey Loves You," one of two horses built of unfired clay and decorated with skeletons, Charlie Chaplin, the Lucky Strike symbol and flowers, where they ooh'ed and aah'ed appropriately.

A fan of old magazines and popular culture as well as folk and contemporary art, Morgin, 45, from Gardena, created a highly detailed Monopoly set — cars, money and all — playing cards and comic books from the same material.

"We are conditioned to believe that something that will last a very long time is valuable, but we also make precious things that don't last a very long time," she said. "Many things in the world don't last forever, people included. But people are important to the world. So, when I make paintings on dirt, I'm making a commentary on what is considered precious and that maybe these things have more value because they might not be able to stand the test of time."

If You Go

What: "Reverberation"

Where: Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St.

When: Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 6 p.m. Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday till Dec. 14

Cost: Admission is by donation

Information: http://www.huntingtonbeachartcenter.org or (714) 374-1650

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