Sonoma State University presents an exhibition of abstract art, "Black White Color Life: Recent Works on Paper by Laurie Fendrich and Peter Plagens," in the University Art Gallery, Feb. 15-Mar. 12, with a special joint lecture taking place at noon on Wed., Feb. 15 in Art 136. Admission to the gallery, reception and lecture is free, parking on campus is $5-$8.
The exhibition includes 26 works on paper by each artist. Both Fendrich and Plagens have spent a significant portion of their careers as professors of art in a variety of colleges and universities across the country, but have rarely showed their work in a joint exhibition. They have dedicated themselves to teaching, writing, and speaking about art while continuing their work as active and successful artists.
Fendrich is a professor emerita of fine arts at Hofstra University in New York. Her conté crayon drawings are inspired, in the artist's words, "by the clarity and seeming simplicity of American abstraction during the 1930s -- the decade before Abstract Expressionism took over." She also finds inspiration in the conté crayon drawings of the 19th century French artist Georges Seurat. She is a 2016 recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Fine Arts, as well as a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Plagens is perhaps equally known for his art criticism as he is for his art. He is the author of "Sunshine Muse: Art on the West Coast, 1945-70" and was also art critic for Newsweek from 1989 to 2003. His work combines painted abstract passages with elements of collage, including words and photo fragments. "What counts first is how my art looks," he says. "That's supposed to draw you into the content, rather than the reverse." Plagens describes his art as "the orchestration of paint, paper, color, and surface." He was a visiting artist at the San Francisco Art Institute in fall 2015 and currently writes about museum exhibitions for the Wall Street Journal.
The University Art Gallery is open Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and weekends, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. An opening reception for this exhibition is Wednesday, Feb. 15, 4-6 p.m. in the University Art Gallery. For more information, call 664.2295.
Photo: Left, Peter Plegans, Capitale (3), 2015, mixed media on rag paper; right, Laurie Fendrich, #17, 2016, conte' crayon on Arches paper.