Saturday, March 17 , 2018, 3:52 pm | A Few Clouds 58º


CSU CI Collides Landscape and Street-Scape with Pair of Urban Environment Artists

A portion of one of artist Victoria Loschuk’s oil paintings, which will be on view at the CSU CI gallery during September. Click to view larger
A portion of one of artist Victoria Loschuk’s oil paintings, which will be on view at the CSU CI gallery during September. (Victoria Loschuk / Victoria Loschuk photo)

Oil painter Victoria Loschuk found her muse through the windshield as she drove in Los Angeles traffic.

"I would be driving on the freeway and searching out nature in the city," Loschuk said "I would see these distant views of trees and flowers blooming in the distance."

The body of work that sprang from those moments will be on display from Sept. 1–22 in the CSU Channel Islands Art Gallery at the John Spoor Broome Library as part of "The Poetics of Landscape" exhibition.

A reception is scheduled for Sept. 8 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and will include a brief artists' presentation and discussion.

On display with Loschuk's art are paintings by Ojai artist Dianne Bennett, a CI alumna whose pathway to her project was littered with old signs and beach debris.

Both artists found nature calling to them through the noise of the urban environment.

 "We are having an urban conversation with nature," said CI Professor of Art, Irina D. Costache, Ph.D., who curated the exhibit. "It's very subtle. It's almost an invisible dialogue with urban space. These artists make us reflect how, as urban people, we live within our environment today."

Bennett creates paintings of natural creatures and environments on old street signs or other discarded manmade objects.

"Moving from Los Angeles to Ventura during the El Niño years of torrential rains and flooding reignited my junk-collecting passion, and I began making art with the detritus I found washed up on the beach," Bennett said. "Since then, I continue to dig deep into my story, my psyche, thrift shops, garage sales and curbside discards for magic, inspiration and hope."

Bennett's bright renderings of pumas and native birds painted on old street signs — including a California condor on a Caltrans sign — act as a gentle crusade to remind us of the effects of climate change and urban sprawl on wildlife.

Bennett's dreamy interpretations of trees and flowers reaching up from the sides of the freeways are more of an invitation to escape into the beauty that could otherwise be swallowed up in the rush to get where you're going.

"I want my work to be a place where people can let go," Bennett said. "They can relax. Because we're all in this rat race of the city and our jobs. Maybe if people can see something in my work, they can see the same thing in their own environment."

— Kim Gregory represents CSU Channel Islands.

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