By Monica Fiscalini
Nobody puts Lena Rushing in a box. A shadow box, maybe. But that’s about it.
I first saw Rushing’s art this spring at the Art Eco show at San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden. Her sculptural piece called “Predator” featured bones recovered from owl pellets, a book and various reclaimed metal mechanical parts.
The next stop was a few weeks later to see the South County artist’s paintings in the window at Coalition on Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo and then around the corner at Heaven and Earth Gallery. A young woman in a pink dress sits on the floor having a heart-to-heart with a crocodile in a party hat. Lyrics to The Smiths’ “Unhappy Birthday” appear in the background. In another, a woman sits in a chair while a walrus waits patiently in case she needs a friend to talk to.
My reaction? Must see more. A roomful. And the time has come. Her solo show, “Strong Women in Strange Company,” opened Saturday night at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles. The exhibit features 10 new pieces and 10 previously seen works. While getting ready for the show, she has continued to exhibit in group shows such as Art Eco.
“To the artists involved, group shows offer networking, camaraderie and support,” she said. “These shows also afford me the opportunity to expose my work to a broader cross-section of the public. When I answer a public call for artists, my hope is that the resulting show impedes gender, social and generation gaps.”
Rushing confirmed my feeling that she is one of the fortunate artists who finds time to work on her art every day. “Art is truly a cathartic experience for me. I look forward to it and spend every day reconciling time for it. When I’m taking care of daily obligations, I’m thinking, ‘How much time is this going to leave me for art?’ I require that time.”
Rushing definitely impresses with her paintings and has recently begun using painting and mixed media to build what she says are best described as dioramas, or shadow boxes. “I would like to continue that work, but on a grander scale, at least 4-feet-by-5-feet. I would also love to get into sculpture. I think that creating the three-dimensional shadow boxes is my way of dabbling in that.”
In the meantime, enjoy “Strong Women in Strange Company,” which press materials describe as “distinctive portrayals of strong, striking women shrouded in unnerving subtext.”
Coming up at Studios on the Park is the Paso Robles Art Association fund-raising event Small Treasures. The preview party will be an evening of art, music, food and wine from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, for $30 per person; reservations for the preview party close on Monday. Purchase tickets online at pasoroblesart.org or at the PRAA Showroom Gallery inside Studios on the Park.
The show will continue through Dec. 9 and feature up to 200 8-by-8 pieces priced at $100 each.
Contact freelance writer Monica Fiscalini at Monica_Jane2000@ yahoo.com.