Mission College’s Vargas Gallery Flashes “Not So Heavy Metal II”
Story and Photos by Cynthia Cheng

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Mission College’s Vargas Gallery Flashes “Not So Heavy Metal II”

Artist and San Jose resident Randy Illa remembers when pet rocks were a fad during the 1970s. His pet rocks in “Pet Voronoi Crystals” were created programmatically when he designed them using a CAD (computer aided design), 3D printed them and made an investment cast to create the bronze. At Mission College’s Vargas Gallery, Illa’s pieces are two of over 50 items in “Not So Heavy Metal II,” an exhibit of artwork and jewelry measuring 10 inches or less. The exhibit opened on Nov. 17 for a preview reception and will run until Dec. 17. The exhibit’s guest juror was artist Dawn Nakanishi.

“The exhibit shows all the different things that can be done with metals and all the different ways people are working with metal; here you have many metals including sterling silver, steel, cast iron, cast bronze, copper and brass,” says Lynne Todaro, art instructor and director of the Vargas Gallery. “It’s also holiday season and we have things here to sell that can easily be wrapped.”

Santa Clara resident and artist Terry Kreiter contributed several sculptures made with cast and fabricated bronze. His sculpture of a boat, “Heart of Darkness,” was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novella about a man’s travels up the Congo River.

“A lot of my art comes from literature, conversation or music and those are all things that come with illustrations,” Kreiter says. “If you read, you make your own illustrations inside your head. I read ‘Heart of Darkness’ a number of times and the boat in the story struck me. I removed the horror of the story and turned this piece into a toy-like submarine.”

Kreiter’s sculpture “Speaking Words of Wisdom” presents a barrel of oil, a replica of an atomic bomb and a chair facing a spiked wheel.

“Watching too much news and reading too many horrible things about world events, I’m saying here that many horrors of the world come from the things shown here,” Kreiter says.

Artist Jen-Hui Chang came all the way from San Francisco to attend the preview reception. Her art combines sculpture with health science and utilizes copper painted with color pencil.

“I have allergies and have wondered how allergens look like,” Chang says. “My allergies inspired me to look at other allergens and viruses such as ‘Cells,’ ‘Bacilli’ and ‘Herpesviridae’ [of which my art is named for]. When I look at pictures of viruses and allergens, they all have bright colors under a microscope. So this inspired me to do this metal art in color. Viruses and allergies make people uncomfortable and I want to show a different perspective and let people see a more interesting and colorful side to pathogens.”

The Vargas Gallery is located inside the Gillmor Center at Mission College. Mission College is located at 3000 Mission College Blvd.