By Jorge Campos
The Santa Ana College Main Gallery opened its first fall exhibit Dancing and Dueling by husband and wife Joe and Elena Wolek on Sept. 17.
“I like to bring in art work that has an interesting dynamic. Work that draws interest in the students,” Art Gallery Director Phillip Marquez said.
The exhibit featured a unique mix of abstract photographs and recycled artwork that the Waleks worked on for about a year.
Everything in the three sections of the gallery played off each other, from pictures of people in desolate Las Vegas to a huge drawing of thousands of dummies on the back wall.
In Tweekers, Drunks, Whores and The Poor, Joe displayed four photographs, each of a Las Vegas citizen living in a downtrodden area of the city.
“The names we label them with shouldn’t dehumanize or even define them,” Walek said.
The series included a homeless man in his makeshift tent and an old and malnourished man walking into his broken down flat-style home.
“We tend to classify these people in a certain way, but in reality it’s a class thing. We blame them for their plight, when in reality it’s an economical thing,” Joe said.
By far the most popular display was Elena’s Dummyscape. Occupying about 30 feet of wall space, it’s an inspiration of her dummy sculptures made with old t-shirts sewn together and stuffed with newspaper. In the drawing she recreates famous American natural landmarks like Utah’s rock pillars, all made out of dummies drawn with markers and pens.
“This is my favorite one. I like how it forms mountains and valleys and stuff out of dummies,” said SAC art student Erik Lopez.
Some other displays included small duck and deer sculptures made out of recycled ski-boot liners and a magic carpet strung together out of used shirts and scavenged wires.
Elena draws her love for turning recycled materials into art from her upbringing in Siberia, where people never threw anything away because there really wasn’t much to throw away, she said.