Lacey Bryant, “Lacuna” and “The Home: The Birdhouse Reimagined” at Modern Eden Gallery

by Admin on 07/30/2014

Modern Eden Gallery commemorates its upcoming move from 403 Francisco Street, the North Beach space it has occupied for four years, to a new location at the corner of Greenwich Street and Columbus with the final two exhibitions in this space that explore pertinent themes, including the ways in which memories formed, shared, stored and recalled as well as the notion of ‘home,’ and how is created and fostered by its inhabitants. In the solo show occupying the front gallery spaces, “Lacuna,” San Jose based artist Lacey Bryant’s creates a pervasive ambiance of both nostalgia and estrangement, and familiarity with undercurrents of the unknown through a collection of intricate paintings and an excellently handcrafted dollhouse. Within this environment, Bryant is able to, in her words, “explore the erosion of memory as well as the little things that stay with us over a lifetime.” For the group show in the back of the gallery, “The Home: The Birdhouse Reimagined” Modern Eden selected of over 35 artists within its community who share a significant part of the gallery’s history to create customized birdhouses, which act as a vehicle by which each artist could delve into a creative examination of the myriad characteristics and nuances of “home.”

“The thing with memory is that it is imperfect. Details get foggy. Gaps form. Things may be remembered slightly differently than they happened or whole events may be remembered that never happened at all…” says Lacey Bryant. “In life there is a constant movement, a pushing and pulling as the environment recedes and rises again with time and season always reclaiming spaces left for too long… Nothing is real here. Or rather, bits of it are… We are asked to find the meaning in the pieces left behind.” Bryant’s thoughtful reflections upon memory and her approach to it through her artwork is a fitting and important introduction to her suite of paintings on view at Modern Eden. Whereas with many paintings audiences examine what is on the canvas, it is far more intriguing in Bryant’s works to examine that peculiar disparity of what is seen and what lies just beyond; where connections are made and lost between these episodic vignettes: crows upon a set table for a tea party in the rain, or the anonymous figure braiding another’s hair on a bed in a field covered with snow. Each one of these small stories are at once fashioned together and fall asunder,  grasping to be reformed into coherency from some time long ago.

Common elements that bind these illustrations together: grassy fields, spiral staircases that seem to lead nowhere, or even curtains seem to be often used as significant figurative connections. They frame each scene’s composition of inherent dichotomies: of the building up and breaking down, of plasticity and yet the organic assemblage of the dreamscape — which is not just a dream as it contains elements of reality. Each one of Bryant’s female characters look similar, but differ in age, size, or other small physical characteristics; it’s left unclear whether they intend to represent one woman’s travels through a surrealist subconscious or if they are all explorations of many different paths by disparate women. Bryant’s use of found wood, of which the ones at Modern Eden what look to be cabinet doors for kitchens, offer more textured layers of history, memory, and repurpose. In this way, Bryant’s paintings, left with traces of others’ histories and including ambiguous applications of ever-changing memories to a static picture plane, invite audiences to not only attempt to read into Bryant’s intentions, but to find personal meaning as well.

In the exhibition space at the back of the gallery, the group show, “Home” is founded upon the notion that home is a place close to one’s heart; a possession prized for its value of shelter, sanctuary, and as its capability to be an outward sign of residents dwelling inside. Places designated as such are not only be prized by its owners, it can also hold enormous influence upon emotional and mental health of its inhabitants: forming not only who someone is, but also a frame to view who one used to be or might become. “Home” examines these ideals through simply constructed, commercially available birdhouse structures customized by over 35 invited artists, chosen by both their unique creative talents as well as their contributions and relationship to Modern Eden gallery’s programming and exhibitions throughout the many years. While many artists revel in the security of the home, painting the birdhouse bright, cheerful colors that welcome audiences in, others make the home unheimlich with beasts expanding beyond its walls, or bizarre scenes inside, making the ordinary nature of the home extraordinary. “Home” becomes is not only an homage to Modern Eden’s last month at its 403 Francisco Street location, a look forward to its new space just across Columbus at 801 Greenwich Street, as well as its continued commitment to remain close to North Beach and to be welcomed into the Russian Hill community.


Lacey Bryant, “Lacuna” and “The Home: The Birdhouse Reimagined” will be at Modern Eden Gallery, 403 Francisco Street through August 9. As of August 1st, the gallery will be open by appointment only.