June 3 – July 15, 2017
Artist Reception: Saturday, June 3, 2017, 4 – 7 p.m.
- David Pagel, Los Angeles Times, A million points of dark: The thrilling pencil drawings of Eric Beltz, June 27, 2017
CB1 Gallery is pleased to present our first solo exhibition of the work of Eric Beltz. The exhibition Night Skies continues the artist’s explorations with graphite on Bristol while expanding density of detail, complexity of pattern structures, and commitment to challenging content.
Before the Flood, Noah retrieved Adam’s body, the body of the first Man, and stowed it on the Ark. After the Flood, Noah’s son Shem saw the sign that God had foretold Noah and followed it to the center of Creation. There Shem buried the Body of Adam and established Jerusalem.
Origin myths such as this have the power to transform a landscape by imbuing it with the awe and wonder of fantastical stories. These myths enshrine and transmit important cultural beliefs but the transformation of a place through story can also unfold within the idiosyncrasies of curiosity. Beltz has found this to be true through his fifteen-year interest in roadside ethno botany. The hidden human history connected to a plant, once discovered, can change an anonymous weed into a potent signifier sending the imagination across oceans.
At the center of the Artist’s Creation is the tree stump. Without a canopy, the landscape fills with weeds; in this case, the Holy Flower of the North Star, Datura. It is poison, medicine, hallucinogen, bio-remediator, and common roadside plant. This field of weeds is where the Body of Adam will be buried again. Anchored only by his toes, frozen in transcendence, hovering over this low shrub, Adam’s body fades into the flora and becomes the starry night in a glowing explosion. Form dissolves into pattern into a constellated heaven. The unfixed, ponderous Picture Frame then wanders up through the branches of shadowy trees and drifts away, following shifting aspects of the moon and stars, looking for Land.
For the past decade Eric Beltz has devoted himself to a simple and focused choice: graphite on Bristol. His drawings are intensely detailed with form, text, pattern, and a stunningly rich grayscale that transcends the limits of the media. Working as a visual essayist and poet, Beltz explores and combines a range of topics: origin myths, American history, ethno botany, ancient religions, and taboo symbolism. He balances the narrow path of pencil on paper with a broad channel cut by his far-reaching interests, seeking discoveries in uncommon mixtures of rare knowledge.
Eric Beltz has been in many solo and group shows across the U.S. His work has been featured in Juxtapoz, Art In America, LA Times, NY Times, and American Artist among others. His work is in the permanent collections of the Nerman Museum (KS), Progressive Collection (OH), Santa Barbara Museum of Art (CA), Art, Design, and Architecture Museum (CA), and as a promised gift to the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY).
Eric Beltz lives and works in Santa Barbara, CA where he teaches drawing at UCSB.