Statement about Breakthrough:

Fresno’s location in the heart of California gives us a central point of connection between other areas of our state. Our valley has historically been connected to the global community through patterns of migration, agriculture and trade. These connections feed the cultural traditions and artistic expressions that have shaped the Central Valley’s rich creative life.

From performing to literary and visual art, Fresno’s artistic legacy runs deep. Sam Peckinpah, Maynard Dixon, and William Saroyan were born here. Virtuoso guitarist Juan Serrano brought Flamenco from Spain to the world via Fresno. Audra McDonald cut her theatrical teeth on a Fresno stage, and Pulitzer Prize winning US Poet Laureate Philip Levine taught at CSU Fresno for over 30 years. In the fall of 1970, Judy Chicago and her fifteen students established the very first Feminist Art Class in the US at Fresno State, which then was expanded to a full-time 15-unit program the following semester. Artists with connections to the Central Valley have become stars, achieved global success, touched the world and shared their talents with generations.

The next time someone describes Fresno as an artistic wasteland, you might mention that the world’s only touchable Renoir sculpture, La Grande Laveuse, The Mural District and the only Cultural Arts Rotary Club in the world are just downtown. We have strength in our past heritage, our present dynamic artistic culture and our future of bright energetic young talent.

The six artists of Breakthrough represent the Central Valley’s continued legacy of artistic excellence. All have called the Valley home at one time or another. Each have been influenced by their time here, and in turn, have left their mark on us while developing their careers along different paths and in diverse media.

Leslie Batty’s art explores feminine identity construction within contemporary western society. Her undergraduate study of English Literature and Art, and graduate study of Art informs her work, but it is Leslie’s disclosure of highly personal experiences that give her work power and relevance to a wide audience. She lives and works in the Fresno area.

Originally from Mexico, Caleb Duarte began to paint at an early age and began his formal studies at Fresno City College, continuing his education at the San Francisco Art Institute and the Graduate Sculpture department of the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. His installation work for the Breakthrough exhibition investigates how simple actions can bring cycles of experienced moments of tragedy into possibilities for individual and collective healing. Caleb’s work has been exhibited internationally. He currently lives in Chiapas, Mexico.

Laura Goldstone approaches her work in an intuitive and scientific manner. She selects materials for emotive and ephemeral qualities, then experiments and manipulates, exploring physical properties to create evocative experiences through sculpture. Laura grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, earned a BA with an emphasis in printmaking at CSU Fresno and she now resides in Portland, Oregon.

Award-winning photojournalist Terrance Reimer moved to the West Coast after graduating summa cum laude from Ohio University majoring in art history and photography. As an immigrant to the Central Valley, Terrance created pictures of his adopted home, in an attempt to connect with and make sense of our region, and to integrate the formal language of the snapshot aesthetic into his photographic work. These became the basis for his series, The Third California: The Golden State’s New Frontier. Terrance is a master print maker at West Coast Imaging in Oakhurst.

Nigel Robertson learned academic drawing methods and traditional painting methods at the Florence Academy of Art. He was born in Mariposa, and as a young child, spent time appreciating the landscapes of Yosemite. Since then, Nigel has traveled far and wide observing, appreciating and capturing nature in his plein air paintings.

Julia Woli Scott was born in Sanger and studied art at CSU Fresno. She will complete a Master’s Degree in painting this spring. Scott has received numerous academic honors. Her current work uses subtlety, economy of marks and a restricted palette to explore relationships of human connection, disconnection and resilience. Julia’s paintings for the Breakthrough exhibition are intimate and personal, yet her artistic language relates common experiences and emotional processes in clear and simple patterns.

The Breakthrough artists were selected to exhibit together because of their shared artistic excellence, ties to the Valley, career paths and because their media and styles worked well together to form a cohesive exhibition. Focusing attention on promising young talent is central to the Museum’s role in supporting California’s rich artistic life. Likewise, our community can be proud that the creative contribution of our young artists is strong, dynamic and world class.

Linda Cano
Executive Director
Fresno Art Museum

January 2013