The current show at UAA’s Hugh McPeck art gallery is a shotgun blast of expression. Aptly titled “Transatlantic Hullaballoo,” the exhibit features three distinct artists showcasing their diverse backgrounds and skillsets. The pieces range from mixed media to ceramics to manga.
The brainchild of Jessica Saiki, Shuzo Zidalis and Cashel Linnane, “Hullaballoo” was a creative exercise of sorts. The friends found a common thread for their exhibition by combining adjectives and nouns and using the resulting phrase as a prompt and title.
Linnane is a recent art school graduate from England. His pieces are primarily acrylic with a dash of mixed media. His bright colors and heavy lines are reminiscent of classic cartoons with a touch playful fiendishness. The spontaneity of his work is what he likes most about it.
“I never rudimentarily plan something before I do it. I just kind of see where the road takes me,” Linnane said.
Conversely, Saiki, who was born and raised in Anchorage, takes more of an intentional approach with her wide variety of pieces on exhibit. Her work ranges from water colors or acrylics to ceramics and even a baleen etching.
“It’s always been like, ‘I feel this way and this is the situation that I want to draw to express that,” Saiki said.
Zidalis, who has been dating Saiki since high school, was born in Japan and lived there until he was 8. His work is heavily inspired by old school manga, effectively using negative space and limited color. His standalone pieces look like they could be torn from a complete graphic novel. He’s never had his work shown publicly before, but hopes the exhibit will help him turn his hobby into something more.
“I think this is kind of the first stepping stone,” Zidalis said.
Linnane became friends with Zidalis years ago through an artist forum online. Eventually, the group decided they wanted to not only meet in person, but to put on a show together.
The idea of combining two words as a prompt not only gave them a theme, but working within those limitations helped them to flex their creative muscles.
“I feel like we’re all really high-energy, creative people, so even just two words is enough,” Saiki said.
The randomness of the titles they came up with together seems to go hand in hand with Linnane and Saiki’s methods, despite their differences: Linnane’s preference for spontaneity and Saiki’s constant desire for expression, regardless of the medium or subject.
For Zidalis, the prompts forced him to expand his techniques and skills to work outside the box while staying inside the boxes. He was not only working within the constraints of the prompts, but also the limitations of the comic book medium. The resulting work ended up being an exercise in maximizing his creativity while keeping things free of extravagance.
About a year or so after being approved by the gallery, it was finally show time. Linnane packed up his pieces and headed to Alaska for the first time.
“I’m glad it’s brought me here,” Linnane said. “Alaska’s a really lovely place, like nothing I’ve ever seen at home.”
Last Wednesday was the opening reception for “Hullaballoo.” People filled the small gallery as the artists made the rounds, seemingly pleased about the turnout and finally getting to see each other’s work in one place.
“It’s surreal in the best way,” Saiki said.
“Transatlantic Hullaballoo” runs until July 19 with a First Friday reception on July 7 from 5 – 7 p.m.
For more of their work, check the artists out on Instagram.
Jessica Saiki: @half.ramen.studio
Cashel Linnane: @ohinkhooray