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Fair Towers and Road Trip

A Deybra and Zebzda exhibit at the Schaefer International Gallery.

August 6, 2009
Paul Janes-Brown

Credit Gallery Director Neida Bangerter for recognizing that Deybra’s whimsical, blithe spirit and Zebzda’s firm tongue in cheek presentations would blend perfectly—and they do.

This work by Deybra is the culmination of 30 years on Maui from one of our most consistently wondrous artists. Her work always brings a smile and warms the heart.

In this show, we see that whimsy, but we also get a glimpse of the serious artist she is. In Higher Power Tower, Deybra explores life’s twists and turns by incorporating Ecclesiastes, the Serenity Prayer well-known to 12-step and AA people, and the Beatles’ anthem All You Need Is Love. The artist seems to speak about acceptance, love. Into every life, a little rain must fall, and above it all there is God.

Article Photos

Artist Deybra Fair works intuitively, immediately and inspirationally.

Endangered Species is three towers of houses made from board games, book covers and collages. The artist presents a light-hearted image to express a serious problem: the loss of the innocence of a by-gone era in the home. It’s a wonderful statement executed superbly.

Deybra reveals her creative process and gives the viewer a glimpse into her personal identity through her installation, Deybra’s Studio. There is so much to see that it’s impossible to focus on any one thing. However, the viewer can’t miss the influence of Frida Kahlo, and it’s interesting to see the ideas she had for this show.

Wooden Bones is a 15-foot tower made from picture frame parts and inhabited by tons of paint brushes. Deybra said she has been collecting since she can remember. Rude Awakening is a marvelous composition that has an antique, almost Nevelson feeling to it. The petrified toad, centipedes and the Jackson are nice touches.

Finally, Isabella’s Office Tower (A Better Life) is a tribute to the influence of her grandmother, a Scottish immigrant who raised two boys on a secretary’s salary after her husband died.

Deybra’s work is alive with details. In every piece, there are delights for the eye and for the senses. She consistently provides interest without overwhelming. Each element presents itself for consideration, and like a great storyteller, she gives the viewer another thing to think about, and then another, in an endless cavalcade of joys for the eye and mind.

Like Andy Warhol, Wayne Zebzda presents something familiar, transforms it through the eye of the artist, and asks us to see it differently. However, where Warhol was dour, Zebzda has a twinkle in his eye and is hell-bent on delighting the viewer.

Lest the viewer be scandalized by Zebzda’s seeming vandalism, let it be known that he has been allowed to recover signs from the highway department that would otherwise become part of the landfill. He also reproduces signs through digital photography.

It’s amazing to see the range of impressions that these mundane objects have inspired in Zebzda. In Caution Magician Ahead and Road Trip, Zebzda has taken real signs, and through the application of clever titles and extreme enlargements, he entertains us.

Take a look at the videos accompanying Suit to Disappear In and Suit for Night Walking, in which Zebzda shows, hilariously, how the suits can be used.

Another multimedia presentation by Zebzda is the sound installation Feel the Beat. Zebzda has made a disco ball out of used reflective highway bumps, and the 56-second recording of a car going over the bumps sounds both like a disco and a heart beat.

Zebzda is also adept at “painting” with smoke. Kone Tiki, X-ing Man 3 and Feel the Beat all demonstrate his skill at this technique. Zebzda photographs his “signs.” In It might be a long journey ahead and quite possibly dangerous but I can’t really tell you all the details just yet, only the yield sign is an actual recovered sign; the other three are digital reproductions.

Memory Loss is another example of a title indicating the artist’s intentions. The faded signs remind us of the transient nature of this existence and the way things fade as they age. Neither Here nor There is a tower of signs, which, if one were to follow them, would lead to nowhere, which I suppose is Zebzda’s point.

This show is the kind of exhibit that is immediately attractive and intellectually stimulating. Children will love it, and their parents will have the opportunity to dive into the deep end and perhaps discuss some of the more profound implications with their progeny. After all, isn’t that what art is really all about?

Fair Towers and Road Trip end Saturday, Aug. 22. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and before and during intermissions of Castle Theater shows.



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