Behind rows of stacks, tables of DVDs and counters lined with computers, Napa County’s flagship library is in the midst of its multi-year, $2.7 million renovation.
Thankfully, “Art in the Library,” a juried competition of visual art exhibits, is not affected and continues to provide patrons with year-round opportunities to experience the work of local and regional artists.
I did just that last week, and found a quiet place to chat with Angela Gonzalez, this month’s featured mixed media artist. On Friday, March 10, the library’s foundation board hosts a free, meet-and-greet reception from 6–7:30 pm. Gonzalez will dig deeper into her creative process and share the inspiration for 13 large, round and brightly-painted mosaics perched on the walls!
The evolution of Gonzalez’s art began in her native Colombia, South America where she earned a degree in design but switched to painting after marriage and a move to Los Angeles.
“I spoke no English, and my husband was working for a company where we moved a lot. When I started painting, I started with replicating the old masters. The work was very challenging but I tried to push myself. I took some courses and then went from using only oils to acrylics and then mosaics. Why not combine both? I had some computer pieces at home and decided to make a painting for my husband’s birthday, incorporating the pieces.”
“In 2010, we moved to Marin, and this is when everything started making sense to me. When I got here, it was a very avant garde community, the center of technology. My kids had to move from personal computers to Mac’s, and as the kids learned, I learned. Everything melded.”
After seeing Gonzalez’s artistry on the library walls, I picked out two favorites: “Holy Cow” and “Cry-O-Sphere.”
In the first, a playful, contented cow stands on recognizable computer parts against the background of a blue sky. But the seemingly lighthearted image belies the artist’s deeper intent — a “wake-up call” to more serious environmental problems in the livestock industry related to greenhouse gas emissions.
In the second, small wooden dolls (used by artists as mannequin models), cling precariously to a tire-shaped, blue whirlpool of moving energy! Laden with her signature computer parts, this piece, as Gonzalez explained, addresses the phenomenon of melting glaciers and rising sea levels, resulting from global warming and the potential of catastrophic problems.
Why use a round, 40-pound block of wood as a canvas? “For many reasons,” Gonzalez said. “For me, circles have no beginning or end. I love the continuation, like mandalas. It’s powerful. The earth is circular, and it’s not a shape people work with, and I knew it would be different. Because most computer pieces are rectangular, I am challenging myself with the medium. I create works from recycled materials and convert them into pieces that help viewers make the connection between art, technology and sustainability.”
Nearby, a library patron wearing ear buds stopped to look at one of the pieces named “BleachBit.” He walked closer to the work and then backed away spending a few minutes in contemplation. “That makes me very happy,” said Gonzalez.