BARBARA NEWS-PRESS, SCENE MAGAZINE, AUGUST 15–21, 2008
Mel Zaid, Jack N. Mohr and Francis Scorzelli
present art with an analytical mind
By Josef Woodard, New-Press Corespondent
Conventional wisdom, theory and medical science have
it that right brain activity is the artist’s best friend, the domain
of intuition and creative “aha” moments. We tend to simplify
the process and accept the right brain theory as fact, especially in the
Not so fast, says Mel Zaid, the longtime Santa Barbara engineer and artist.
Zaid has come to the defense of the cranial underdog factor, praising
the powers of the more analytical “left brain” sector in the
process of what makes art come to fruition. Joining forces with other
local artists, mixed media artist Jack N. Mohr and painter Francis Scorzelli,
Zaid puts forth a concept in motion and in action, dubbing a Framework
exhibition — and its ideological backdrop — “Left Brain
In his statement in the gallery, Zaid proposes a method of art-making
from an idea to execution to presentation, within the three-step, three-E
context he calls “Explore, Explain and Exploit.” Whatever
one makes of the ideas buzzing beneath and around art, the work itself
does its own bidding on a purely perceptual basis.
Zaid’s sculptures have been seen around town in various spots and
group shows, and his three-dimensional has frequently made its way into
the longstanding art publication — founded in Santa Barbara in 1981
— known as “Art/Life.” Seen in the gallery, a selection
of Zaid’s sculptures conspire toward a coherent, und unusual, persona.
Working in aluminum and bronze, Zaid swerves between poles of figurative
and abstract imagery, operating in a realm where mysticism and science
aspire to meld. Facial profiles and natural, cosmic forces are often courted,
as with the mirror-image profiles in “Time Slice, Positive Space.”
“Axial Motion of Null Trace in Moebius Space-Kena” combines
an outlined facial reference with a shape evoking some centrifuge-like
Mohr, who also runs the Artamo Gallery, is in some ways more down to earth
than Zaid, including his choice of material — glazed high-fired
ceramics. Mohr’s small-scaled “Reduction” series of
white-on-white relief sculptures presents witty, teasing variations on
the theme of impressions of layered, concealed activity and objects. Impressions
of peeling paint, sardine cans, enigmatic balls seeking liberation, and
the occasional nail work into the mix. Construction and deconstruction
are opposing, but also conspiring, energies.
In quite a different stylistic and expressive corner than the three-dimensional
artists in the room — and with what appears like a right brain activity
in overdrive — is painter Scorzelli. His large, loud and busting
paintings are created with a boldly intuitive eye and hand, with a vivid
palette and visceral outcome.
In these canvases, dense and overlapping thickets of shape and color —
like antic conversations with freely-interrupting parties — somehow
blend the cerebral spirits of abstract expressionism and more native milieus
of folk art. Whichever side of the brain they favor, these paintings make
a joyful imagistic noise.