Ron Baldwin's piece takes inspiration from disposable masks he's run across on morning walks during the pandemic.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
City Life

The pandemic in metal: Pajaro Valley Arts exhibits ‘memories of a time like no other’

In the ongoing “Reflections” exhibition at the Watsonville gallery, members of the Monterey Bay Metal Arts Guild answered the call for works about their journey through COVID-19 and other upheavals of recent years.

Metal arts fall under a big tent, filled both with what you might expect, like handmade jewelry, but also the less obvious, like metal versions of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s iconic collars.

Whether the work is about healing from COVID-19, beloved pooches who’ve passed or taking a political stand, the ongoing “Reflections” exhibition at Pajaro Valley Arts in Watsonville is about just that: reflecting on what’s important during a tumultuous couple of years.

Curators Toni Danzig and Annette Nemes asked participants for new work for the show presented by the Monterey Bay Metal Arts Guild that runs through Oct. 3.

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“Our artists have produced work that tells of their journeys,” Danzig said of MBMAG’s first post-pandemic exhibition. “Their links to family and friends (both human and furry), and told stories which have become memories of a time like no other.”

Artwork by 29 artists representing a range of techniques and inventive interpretations of the theme fill PVA’s Victorian interior. Margery Moran shared collars from a series celebrating the legacy of late Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, called “RIP RBG.” A striking piece from the series titled “Men Are Chefs, Women Are Cooks,” is a cast-iron skillet cut into pieces and strung together like a necklace draped over an aproned mannequin’s neck.

Margery Moran's "Men Are Chefs, Women Are Cooks."
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Ron Baldwin reimagined the ubiquitous disposable face masks he found during his morning walks into the permanent medium of bronze, and Tina Russell created a tiny “Chapel of the Good Dog” inside a salvaged metal lunch box as a tribute to fur babies loved and lost.

“I am so grateful for all the work so many people have put into making this a great show,” said Nemes, who’s been close friends with Danzig since they met in a metal arts class at Cabrillo College. “I hope the community feels encouraged to come out and see the creativity, ingenuity and abilities of these artists.”

Tina Russell's "Chapel of the Good Dog."
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

In addition to filling the gallery space with diverse artwork and a large wall hanging that details many of the artists’ techniques, the show includes a gift-shop section where visitors can purchase items to take home.

The MBMAG represents artists from Salinas to Grass Valley, including many alumni of Cabrillo and Monterey Peninsula Colleges, which Danzig said have both been very supportive and have vibrant metal arts programs. Several guild members have earned national recognition, including Albion Smith, who is represented at the Smithsonian, and Lynda Watson, a past Santa Cruz County artist of the year.