Growing up, Christian Tedeschi fancied getting into trouble. He didn't harm himself or others, but flaunted a short attention span and flagrant disregard for authority.
And then he welcomed the punishment, be it a time-out at home or day-long suspension at school.
Closed into his bedroom, away from prying eyes, he drew for hours on end. One day, he swapped the permitted pen and paper for a block of clay — and then just couldn't stop designing.
In retrospect, he said, that moment altered the course of his life.
"I really gravitated to the illogical," said Tedeschi, 39, whose first piece was a John Lennon head in which the musician's hair covered his nose, mouth and other facial features. "I wasn't a good student except for my art classes and poetry — I enjoyed that. And, it became a coping mechanism or a way to deal with life in a different way."
Domestic elements and common objects, such as Saran Wrap, bicycle wheels, blinds and even a Superman costume, continue to star prominently in Tedeschi's work. Whether employing fabricated or discarded materials, he finds that his work occupies a "strange space between utilitarian objects and nature."
"A lot goes through my mind when I'm making things, and I don't know if that's what people see, but I embrace that," Tedeschi said.
The Los Angeles resident is one of nine artists — many of whom are professors or have taught at some point in their lives — on display at the Huntington Beach Art Center through Dec. 14. Curated by Andre Woodward, "Reverberation" features over 30 pieces that reflect the influence of contemporary thought on visual art, namely sculpture.
Reality and illusion
Woodward, 36, of Fullerton, picked exhibitors who either taught him in a classroom setting or impacted his aesthetic through their imagination and finesse. Under his supervision, colorful artwork and photographs that provided inspiration for 3-D creations mingle with objects, large and small, that play up the available light and space.
The show's name comes from the title of a 13th Floor Elevators song, which was later recorded by ZZ Top and the Jesus and Mary Chain.
"The song has been covered by other musicians, so it deals with the idea of inspiration," Woodward said. "Also, the word 'reverberation' lends itself to influence because something reverberates over time and influences other things."
A wall at the entrance to the show is dotted with 10 Artforum Magazines with pirate skulls and abstract wave patterns cut into the pages. Titled "State of Affairs," it leads into three galleries methodically scattered with items including Evan Holloway's "72," a steel, brass, lead and paint concoction that represents, with small, carefully molded faces, people in a room and each one's interaction with another.
Continuing on, the viewer encounters Thomas Müller's "I am the man in the gray flannel suit!", arranged on the floor with shattered letters revealing their interior architecture, and Tedeschi's "40,000,000,000,000 years" a toilet-paper-and-resin construction with a Dracula head and globe tucked inside.
Art from darts
Duffy, 47, spent his youth in east San Diego County, 30 miles from the closest convenience store. The landscape sported motorcycles, go-karts and rocks and lent itself to fixing broken paraphernalia with other scraps on-hand. Today, this use of familiar, mass-produced goods, like paint and canvas, is part of his practice, albeit nontraditionally.
Last year, he purchased 1,000 red, yellow and blue darts off eBay, which lay around his Santa Clarita house, to be fiddled with occasionally. One night, Duffy was joined by his wife and two sons, throwing darts at a wall for over an hour.
When some darts fell to the ground, it became a game to ensure that they all stuck to the surface. Eventually, he had to patch up the wall, he recalled with a guffaw, but the experience, which toed the line between destruction and creation, came together in the form of "Darts Red, Darts Yellow and Darts Blue," on display at the venue on Main Street.
Duffy's other contributions to "Reverberation" include printed signs reading "I've seen more photographs of people than people" and "This piece is for you — Take it off the wall and carry it to your home. Don't talk to anyone. They won't talk to you." — an offer that some viewers have taken him up on.
"I don't want the audience spending their time wondering, 'What is that?'" he said. "I'd rather they spend their time thinking about how I've used the material. Thinking of the sign pieces, I could've just had road signs made, but that's a material that's readily ignored and looked too much like some form of official dogma. The pieces would be dead. By using paper and messy screen printing, it made the work expressive, so the final pieces kind of exist in a place between art and road signs."
At a time when people are inundated with information and images, Duffy mulled over artists' responsibilities.
"If creating illusions is the norm, then what's the role of an artist?" he asked. "In the past, artists took people to illusions, so, now, is it the role of the artist to take people to reality?"
Kate Hoffman, the art center's executive director, believes that "Reverberation" challenges the expected norms of sculpture. Walking through the gallery last Tuesday, she pointed out her favorite piece in the project room: Meeson Pae Yang's resin, glass and acrylic work that spins in light emanating from a projector, which reminded her of winter in New England with moonlight trickling through bare, ice-laden trees, she said.
Nearby, the sound of "Mele Kalikimaka," a Hawaiian-themed Christmas song, floated out from a Polynesian dance class while a teacher discussed horns and capes with her cartoon drawing students. Enthusiastic sounds suddenly filled the exhibition space as a group of tots made a beeline toward white pails filled with darts, pausing to peer at Kristen Morgin's "Smokey Loves You," one of two horses built of unfired clay and decorated with skeletons, Charlie Chaplin, the Lucky Strike symbol and flowers, where they ooh'ed and aah'ed appropriately.
A fan of old magazines and popular culture as well as folk and contemporary art, Morgin, 45, from Gardena, created a highly detailed Monopoly set — cars, money and all — playing cards and comic books from the same material.
"We are conditioned to believe that something that will last a very long time is valuable, but we also make precious things that don't last a very long time," she said. "Many things in the world don't last forever, people included. But people are important to the world. So, when I make paintings on dirt, I'm making a commentary on what is considered precious and that maybe these things have more value because they might not be able to stand the test of time."
If You Go
Where: Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St.
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 6 p.m. Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday till Dec. 14
Cost: Admission is by donation
Information: http://www.huntingtonbeachartcenter.org or (714) 374-1650