Phil Dynan, a co-owner of the Red Bluff Art Gallery, was travelling through Guatemala a year ago. A friend of his from long-ago Army days took him through a region of lakes and volcanoes to a small village where he met a family of painters. The family of four – parents Antonio and Juana, daughter Yennifer and son Francisco – painted scenes and symbols from Guatemalan life and culture, scenes that came to life by their use of vivid color.
“As you get closer to the equator, color becomes increasingly important,” notes Dynan.
He was soon showing their work in the gallery he co-owns with his wife Anastasia Nelson. The Guatemalan artwork will also be featured in a new show, “Cross Cultures,” curated by the Red Bluff couple and opening at the Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir this Saturday, Nov. 10. The show will also feature works by Russian, North African, and American artists.
Dynan’s personal history of wanderlust and globe-trotting makes him an appropriate curator for this wide-ranging show.
When he was barely out of high school Dynan took a job with the CIA, which placed him in the royal palace in Ethiopia to report on the comings and goings of diplomats from Egypt, Israel and other countries. Since then he has traveled a good part of the world and now spends part of the year in London, where he has a studio. He’s been making his living as an artist for the past half century.
In the upcoming SAM show viewers will see Antonio Vasquez’s paintings of iconic Guatemalan scenes, a midwife delivering a baby, a traditional healer, or curandero, practicing her art.
And there will be Stephen Bennett’s portraits of indigenous peoples from all over the world, including Cuba, Tanzania, Thailand, and Australia, portraits that have been used on United Nations postage stamps.
And you’ll have a chance to view Russian-born Jane Sharvina’s whimsical drawings, drawings based on animal forms, but like no animals you’ve ever seen before.
“Her drawings are like a Rorschach Test. They’re open to every viewer’s interpretation,” says Dynan.
The “Cross Cultures” show will also feature the abstract art of North African artist Yosief Indrias. His works weave in religious symbols and other cultural touchstones from his native Eritrea in what he calls “an expression of cultural heritage.”
“This show will take viewers into new and different zones,” says Dynan, “into a wider world of different cultures and unexpected insights.”
“Cross Cultures” runs from Nov. 10 to Dec. 29 at the Siskiyou Arts Museum, 5824 Dunsmuir Ave. Opening reception is from 5 to 7 p.m. November 10. The gallery is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. For more information call (530) 235-4711 or go to www.siskiyouartsmuseum.org.