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Gothic gallery glory

Austin Dalley, a fourth semester student, observing "After the Storm"
Austin Dalley, a fourth semester student, observing "After the Storm"
Austin Dalley, a fourth semester student, observing “After the Storm”

By Andrew Conti
News Editor

The person sitting beside you in class may grow be an internationally recognized athlete, musician, actor, or in the case of Holly Lane’s former peers, a painter and sculptor.

Yes, Holly Lane, a former Cuesta College student and now deservedly well known artist, will be gracing the gallery with her exhibit’s signature take on Earth’s everyday occurrences, personal hurdles, and the contrast falling between them.

Lane has done numerous solo art exhibitions and almost seventy group exhibitions, making her a veteran of the craft. This fact was noted the moment I stepped into the exhibit’s set up process. Towering golden statues of fantastical buildings filled the floor, while the Miossi Art Gallery’s walls were lined with Lane’s framed paintings.

Lane’s pieces redefine the term “framed painting”. Transforming the typical wooden lining into an art of its own, each painting of Lane’s is enclosed by the beautifully hand carved and melancholic structures of gothic architecture.

Each aspect of her framing’s detail, from wooden apothecary jars to the functional little doors on her piece “After the Storm” is symbolic.

“I use doors on the work to indicate cause and effect, or time, so you know if the door [opens or closes] it goes from day to night,” said Lane as we stood before “After the Storm”, a piece based on the beauty and pain of change.

"After the Storm" by Holly Lane 2012
“After the Storm” by Holly Lane 2012

Guiding me through the piece, she explained, “It goes from dawn across those paintings, to night. So there’s time, there’s time involved. This is a scene from near where I lived.” She points to a painting of a house embedded in golden hills, “I was evicted from the place that I lived and had to find a new place, and what was a distressing experience turned out to be a wonderful experience. Because after I moved I was glad that I had made that change. So, it’s about change over time, and perception.”

The perception of both humans and animals are challenged by Lane’s pieces. However her imagery of dogs, cats and other creatures is often a means of exploiting materialistic values only found in humanity.

Lane guides our attention elsewhere on the piece to a painting of two dogs fighting over a pair of underpants, a small wooden door attached, threatening to hide them away.

“I think of animals like they see things differently than human beings, so they’ll take human things and put them to different purposes.” She brings us to another window containing the image of a bird sitting on a book. Lane elaborates, “the bird is using the books as a nest, so that’s my idea of changing perspectives.”

And while Lane’s ability to shift perspectives is rife throughout her work, she manages to leave a trace of literalism within the imagery of “After the Storm”, a dark, wooden mass of gothic architecture, staring right back at the two of us.

As she gently guided me to another painting within, Lane said “the configuration of the stars is exactly the same as the day I finished the painting.”

Every question of mine was answered with a humble elaboration regarding the symbolism of Lane’s work.

And while the walls are lined with paintings enshrouded in woodwork, the floor is filled with golden statues, each one handcrafted by Lane.

“Why the gold? Well it’s radiant and it’s metal, so it’s different from what you’d expect from wood, and it’s like a skin.” said Lane, “So, I think of it as like a radiant, pure skin on the top of the sculpture, rather than the raw form. It’s also what they used on the back of icons and for the heavens, so the gold is really just a reference to purity and the heavens.”

“The Well-Traveled Mind Prepared for Sea Level Rise” by Holly Lane 2012

One piece of her glowing sculpture, titled “The Well Travelled Mind Prepared for Sea Level Rise”, features what looks like a treasured Roman city atop four pegs, leaving the piece as present in the room as a gilded coffee table.

“In earlier work I had ‘The Well Travelled Mind’ and it hung on the wall. And it was also a clustering of architectural forms, some of them surreal and stuff, so that’s what I imagine the topography of a well travelled mind might look like.” said Lane.

But once she became aware of things like global warming, Lane decided that the mind had some adjustments to make.

“I decided the well travelled mind was going to have to be prepared for sea level rise. So I did another one with all these architectural forms, but instead of putting it on the wall where it can’t get up and walk away, I just kinda put on these little feet, so now it can get up and walk away if it needs to.”

Lane’s imaginative art and its reflection of our Earth’s past, present and future, is finally going to be available for viewing experience at Cuesta College’s Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery.

Holly Lane’s work will be in the gallery from March 2 – 27, and there will be an opening reception with Holly Lane herself on March 6. For the reception, a free shuttle service will be provided by Art Obispo’s Art After Dark, taking viewers from San Luis Obispo’s Art Museum to Cuesta’s Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery.

By Andrew Conti
News Editor