As you're nearing the end of the two-week holiday season, it's very possible you're going a little stir-crazy: Eyes glazed from all those TV channels. Sick of movie popcorn. And the thought of going to a shopping mall actually triggers leg spasms.
Here's an option you might not have considered: check out the exhibitions at the Fresno Art Museum.
It's the last weekend for most of the museum's exhibitions, which run through Sunday. (A new cycle of shows opens Jan. 24.) Here are some highlights:
Page is the museum's Council of 100 Distinguished Woman Artist of 2013.
Page, on the fine arts faculty at USC, has a long career in a variety of media, and in her "Selected Experiments (1971-2012)" we get a glimpse of her progression from early paper pieces to sculptures that are partially produced with digital technology.
A focal point of the exhibition is the installation "Abscissa," created in 2007, comprised of bisque fired clay pieces arranged on a raised black grid. When you fire clay pieces this way, they are left with a raw, unfinished, organic look — almost like brittle bones, or perhaps even fossils.
While it turns out there is a precise plan for the piece — the artist created a personalized alphabet based on the Michael Laurence poem "Lyricism and the Electric" and then created each piece based on a complex mapping system determined by the placement of the poem's letters on the page — it isn't necessary, in my view, to understand the cerebral intent of the installation. To me, it looks like an otherworldly chess board.
That tug between the right and left sides of the brain, if you will, adds an interesting tension to the Page exhibition.
Corky Normart has been painting downtown Fresno for almost 50 years, and the warmth — and friskiness — of his "50 Years of Downtown" exhibition casts a big, bright spell.
How clever it was, then, for the museum to hitch a ride on Normart's coattails by arranging the complementary show #Downtown Visions" in the gallery next door. Billed as the museum's first crowd- sourced exhibition (and supported by a grant from the Irvine Foundation), it was open to all.
The result is a collection of photos, videos, paintings, poetry and mixed-media objects ranging from sober to wacky. The surprising thing is how strong the show turned out to be. Sure, there are a few groaners. But overall, the variety and passion for downtown is something to see.
A nice touch is the exhibition's digital gallery, which includes about 80 submissions. (You can watch it at the museum or view it online at downtownvisions.fresnoartmuseum.org. Don't miss Andrew Fesler's wonderful "Invisible Fresno" digital art in which he blends photographs of old and contemporary scenes in an intriguing way.
There is a third component to the museum's powerhouse downtown Fresno lineup: a show titled "The Future 50: Visions of Downtown." More than 700 county schoolchildren participated in the show. The colorful and imaginative renderings offer a cheerful take on the topic, from wild ideas (a modern Fresno pyramid, a domed city, tube-like roller coasters connecting tall buildings) to a sky-high sense of optimism (a Fulton Mall featuring a Target, Macys and a Forever 21). One student even depicts a downtown boasting the headquarters of Apple, Google, AT&T and Microsoft. You can only dream, right?
Emmy Lou Packard
A final recommendation: Though it doesn't close Sunday along with the rest of the exhibitions, time is running out on the long-running and well-received photography show "Emmy Lou Packard: Diego, Frida & Me," which runs through Jan. 14.
The small exhibition will travel to the Monterey Museum of Art — a mark of distinction for the show, which was created and curated by Linda Cano, the Fresno Art Museum's executive director.
If you go
Fresno Art Museum, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, 2233 N. 1st St. www.fresnoartmuseum.org, (559) 441-4221. $5.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6373, firstname.lastname@example.org and @donaldbeearts on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.