By David Ryan Palmer
Art is a fluid, dynamic thing, always in flux, ever changing. At least, that’s a philosophy prevalent in the work of two artists now preparing to display their visions.
Theresa Muñoz and Thomas Eric Stanton both are at work repurposing Arts Benicia’s gallery space at 991 Tyler St., Suite 114, for the nonprofit’s Artists in Residence show this month. And both artists’ work loosely demonstrates a theme of fluidity.
Muñoz’s space will be designed with a specific aesthetic in mind. “I’m trying to make a space as if I were making a queer baby’s room,” she said.
“I’m thinking of my art as queer by nature. I have had enough shock and grief, where a kid is murdered by his father because he likes dancing. I’ve seen that five times over the years, in the news.
“Now I just want to celebrate the kid who danced.”
With her work, Muñoz hopes to take on people’s notions of gender. “I wanted to take the conversation away from binary gender, away from what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong.’”
She shares the space with Stanton, whose work often includes as much sound — or lack of it — as visual elements. “I’m a self-described, self-defined conceptual artist,” Stanton said.
Nearly every corner of his exhibit has a certain amount of reverb, echo, or distortion. Stanton then uses sculpture to play up a visitor’s awareness of the sound and their position inside the gallery.
“Theresa will be over there, doing some carving,” he said by way of example, “but you’ll hear her echo behind you.”
Stanton said he hopes to create what he calls a “shadows at noon” effect.
“When you’re standing around at noon, do you cast a shadow?” he said. “You do — but it’s right there, beneath you.”
Inside Arts Benicia’s gallery, the shadows — and the sound effects — all are distorted, as if the sun were at its 4 o’clock position.
“That’s the sound metaphor you want,” Stanton said.
Both artists are now at work in the space, and the public is free to observe them at any time. Muñoz welcomes the opportunity to work while guests look on.
“I’m inviting people to come in and help. Even kids. We could use the help and encouragement,” she said.
Stanton called the collaboration experimental.
“I don’t think anything like this has happened in this gallery,” he said.
“What people choose to do in the gallery is a wild card.”
The Artists in Residence program is in its second year. Muñoz said it offers a unique opportunity for artists in any discipline.
“Most artists don’t get a chance to ever really see where their work will be shown beforehand,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to change things up as we go along.”
An opening reception for their work is scheduled for July 23 from 7-9 p.m. An “Artists Talk” is set for Aug. 11 from 7-10 p.m.