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SBCC artists show sculptures and collages from unusual materials

Tal Avitzur (left) speaks with Jerome Mercer (right) during The Red-Headed Stepchild: The History of Collage and Assemblance event at the Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. Avitzur is currently a math professor at City College.

Jun Starkey, Staff Writer

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Amid the bustle of 1st Thursday in downtown Santa Barbara, friends and family slowly trickled into the Sullivan Goss Gallery to see the latest show titled “The Red-Headed Stepchild.”.

The show celebrates local artists who embrace the idea of taking the old and unwanted, and transforming it into something beautiful.

Among the sea of artists showing their work are a few of City College’s own incredible talents like math professor Tal Avitzur and former City College student Inga Guzyte.

Included in the exhibition is three pieces by the late Ken Nack, a highly regarded City College art instructor who passed in 2009.

Both Inga and Tal stood together, quietly whispering to one another as the show began. They watched as guests made their rounds in the gallery and paused in front of their respective works.

Avitzur’s pieces are sculptures made of metal that he’s taken from scrap yards, and he said every time he goes there, there’s always something different. He said that he can usually see the sculpture he wants to create in his mind after seeing the metal in the yard.

Avitzur said that he started making these pieces when he bought a fixer-upper house. He needed money to fund the repairs, and when looking through a scrapyard, he came upon the idea to create art.

He said that making these sculptures has kept his mind fresh.

“As I’ve aged, my memory has gotten worse,” he said. “I want to keep my mind active by doing different things.”

The sculptures he creates seem almost like futuristic children’s toys. Avitzur said part of his inspiration came from comics.

The art Inga Guzyte makes is very personal. The piece she had on display was a portrait of Frida Kahlo made entirely out of scraps of used skateboards.

“I like the character. I started out skateboarding,” Guzyte said. “Skateboarding has a lot of meaning to me personally because skateboarding was there for me when I didn’t have parents.”

Guzyte has been using skateboards as a medium for at least 10 years. She claims that it is her way of “giving back to skateboarding,” and that it was able to help her blend her love of graphic design with her artistic style.

She also stated that she chose Frida Kahlo because she loved her sentiment about creating one’s own reality.

The work of Ken Nack varied from a collage style, to a mixed media piece. Though he wasn’t there to explain his inspiration or the message behind his work, there were plenty of people that remembered and spoke of him fondly.

“He really was an art person more so than an art teacher,” said John Handloser, a former student and neighbor of Nack.

Nack’s son, Brad Nack, also came to the show, and was able to share a few words about his father.

“My dad was completely into the abstract,” he said. “It’s interesting to me because he never publicised himself. He was a really pure artist. He didn’t do it for fame or fortune. He just really enjoyed art.”

The show will be open through October 14.

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SBCC artists show sculptures and collages from unusual materials