Several pieces ranging from sculpture, mix media and physical objects, all the collections of two artists Bergstedt and Ritter, both very well known artists in the San Francisco area came to Merced College art gallery on February 20, 2013. Both artists show there visual characteristics that define their artistic style. At first glance the room reminded me of a childlike setting where everything is just spread across the room instead of being carefully organized. The imagery of these works is cartoonish, childlike, simple and one dimensional.
As one walks into the gallery, it feels like one enters a funhouse filled with colorful and whimsical wall sculptures. “More things to do” and “Following the Tread “, were among the favorites of visual art work that I admired. Ritter’s ability to portray the dynamic relationships she has with her family relationships: parents and children, and members of her own family, drew me to her art work. She was able to show through her vintage brownie dress a turbulent yet inspirational personal life that included having to do daily household chorus that a child of her era was intended and expected to do by telling a story of her family through hand embroidery.
I viewed the long orange tie demonstrated a vigorous working young girl, whose work was never and still needs to be done like a long an endless tapestry of her life. Looking at the maternity piece hanging in the corner of the room was truly my most favorite piece, I couldn’t help but take my eyes off of the picture and felt her sense of how much she loved her son. She explained to me that the Dr. told her that back in those days it was not good for the baby to sleep with you in your bed, and how she was portraying the anguish and guilt of not having her son close to her during those times. To me this piece lets me see her pieces through her eyes and takes me to a more spiritual and memorable time in her life. All of her sculptures of pregnant women offered no clear opinions or solutions. But, in retrospect, Ritter’s Pregnancy endures as both a portrait of a person and a picture of a time. After talking with Mrs. Ritter she clarified what I was thinking, that her art work is a visual like storytelling of her life’s family stories by using hand embroidery to stitching, appliqué́, photo transfer & mixed media on vintage books & clothing, some of which she said she inherited.
Moving on I came across some of Marie Bergstedt artistry, “Summer” the piece next to the open door was very playful and whimsical, the way she used buttons to portray a women like figure as if she was covered in sea shells on a hot a muggy day ready for some sun and beach. “Telephone tales” a visual colorful artwork of buttons and crocheting was inspired by her foster mother. “Girl and Milk Can” was a delightful its fibers were Cotton threads, buttons, beads, polyester velour, leather, manufactured felt, wire, polyester stuffing, and the young girl sat on antique milk can reminded me of the days growing up on a dairy and as a young girl just trying to find a place to sit. Although I found most of the artwork to be visual stimulating and eye catching I was taken back with the one shirt that hung in the corner of the room.
I was not a big fan of it, I felt as if it was just a basic old shirt that hung in closet for years. For me this piece did not come at me or have any magical qualities as all of the other pieces did. Talking with Marie Bergstedt and Roz Ritter you can get a feel of what their lives must have been like. From there intricate pieces of a sculpture that were from torn and degenerated antique pieces along with new fibers, wire, and button you can visually see these two women sitting and sculpturing there pieces. When I first saw Marie Bergstedt and Roz Ritter artwork, I thought I was looking at collage on lace. Only closer inspection showed that what I perceived as crochet and cutwork was actually hand drawings.
Roz also fills the white space of her drawings with collage elements and sometimes pierces the paper with needlepoint pricks, a crafting tradition that goes back to the early 19th century. Mixed media artists create visual works of art using a variety of tools and substances, frequently moving well beyond the traditional. Surfaces and substances found in mixed media artwork include typical artistic implements but expand to non-traditional materials. Mixed media art comes in multiple forms, including collage, assemblage, photomontage, and sculpture. Many mixed media projects are layered, making foundation and timing two of the most important considerations for mixed media artists. Themes of vintage needlecraft and women and their societal roles are woven throughout the artist’s work. It feels as if you are connecting to the past.