Fresno Beehive

5 shows to see during July ArtHop in Fresno

Tony Stamolis’ ‘Fresno Fig’ exhibition is on display at the Misc. Trading Company.
Tony Stamolis’ ‘Fresno Fig’ exhibition is on display at the Misc. Trading Company. Special to The Bee

Have you ever really looked at a fig?

Photographer Tony Stamolis has. And then some. His new show, “Fresno Fig,” is one of my picks for July’s ArtHop, the monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods.

The show at the Misc. Trading Company includes 38 prints of 22 figs (all from one enormous tree in Stamolis’ friend’s backyard) in sizes ranging from 10 inches square to 50 inches square.

Make no mistake: Figs are odd-looking, particularly when enlarged, and some of the images might remind you, say, of a dissected alien brain. (Stamolis calls the show “a mess of photos from the disgustingly delicious bounty of the San Joaquin Valley.”) But like other insightful still-life photography, the close-up views can alter your perception of an object and expand your notion of just what is “beautiful.”

Stamolis, who was born and raised in Fresno, lived in New York for 23 years before returning last year. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Maxim, Nerve, Giant, Mass Appeal, Flaunt and Black Book.

In 2008 he authored a photo book titled “Frezno,” which has been described as “a disturbing, humorous, and poignant insider’s view of a post-suburban American badlands.” One fan on the book’s website says: “He got it … the oddness, meanness, beauty and soul of this sad hilarious, fractured place.”

Maybe Fresno had the last laugh, considering that Stamolis moved back.

The “Fresno Fig” ArtHop reception runs 5-9 p.m. (Receptions at most venues run 5-8 p.m.) Misc. Trading Company is at 2017 Tuolumne St.

Teachers as artists

Art teachers spend a lot of time instructing other people on how to make art. It seems only fair that during the summer, when many of them get some free time, that they get a chance to be artists themselves.

The M Street Arts Complex hosts “Teachers as Artists,” a show featuring work from 18 teachers from around the central San Joaquin Valley. Organizer Denine Bennett, who has a studio at M Street, lined up 50 works for the show. They include acrylic, oil and watercolor paintings, as well as mixed media, ceramic, marble, photography and carved palm bark.

“Art teachers rarely have time to show their own work, and we want to make that opportunity available,” Bennett says.

Along with an ArtHop reception, a brunch with mimosas and muffins will be held 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, July 9. The complex is at 1419 M St. Details: www.mstreetarts.com.

Utopian fantasies

Before Fresno State painting professor Nick Potter ships off new works to a new solo show in Hawaii, fans of Corridor 2122 will get to see a preview. Potter’s describes “1000 Utopias” as a series of paintings and comment on “the often disturbing utopian fantasies that many governments, cultures, and ideologies have sought to realize and impose upon each other.”

New works in this series, he writes in an artist’s statement, “juxtapose the seductive, minimalist architecture of high modernism with the mathematically complex and highly decorative motifs of Islamic architecture.” In other works, Potter depicts images of imagined false paradises and the idealized lifestyles of the lucky inhabitants of these pseudo-utopias.

The show, which continues through July 24, is the second solo show of Potter’s at the gallery, which is at 2122 Mono St. Details: www.corridor2122.com.

Blair as artist

Those in the local art community are quick to recognize the name George Blair, the Fresno engineer-turned-collector whose passion for Abstract Expressionist art of the Bay Area made him a powerhouse patron. He’s devoting his attention these days to fine-art photography in a show at 1821 Gallery & Studios. In “Hidden Images,” a collaboration between Blair and painter Cedric Wentworth, Blair starts with Wentworth’s oil-on-canvas paintings and uses them to create intriguing digital images that the gallery calls “micro-vignettes.”

The gallery is at 1821 Calaveras St. The show runs through July 31. Details: www.1821gallery.com.

Pet pics

How much do Fresno Bee readers love to take photographs of their pets? We received more than 150 entries to what we’re calling “Petapalooza,” a curated exhibition of some of the best pet portraits our readers have to offer. We picked 50 of them to print and exhibit in The Bee’s front lobby, and the rest can be viewed in a slideshow.

Dogs and cats make up the majority of offerings, but the artistic menagerie includes chickens and horses, too. My own beloved poodle, Tillie, is one of the “pet stars” on display. Look for her.

As a public service, the Central California Animal Disaster Team will be on hand to give pet advice.

Details: “Petapalooza” will be on display at The Bee, 1626 E St., through July 29 during business hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.)

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