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Preview: Media Storm

Protea Gallery Opens Textscapes

Above: Artist Joyce Dallal surveys the installation of her paper sculpture Media Storm at the Protea Gallery.

Protea Gallery is a new addition to the North Park Scene. KPBS Arts Reporter Beth Accomando stopped by to see the installation of the new exhibit Textscapes featuring a paper sculpture by Joyce Dallal.

What’s in a name? If you are Protea Gallery… everything.

"Protea is a flower that grows in South Africa and it thrives in Southern California especially in San Diego County," says Doris Bittar, "So it’s a metaphor, the flower mirrors the artists I am going to show, it’s an international and regional gallery."

Protea Gallery is run and owned by Doris Bittar, a San Diego artist. Last week she was helping give birth to the gallery’s second exhibition, a one-woman show from artist Joyce Dallal.

The centerpiece is a paper sculture that the women were trying to pull out of a long box that Bittar called a "birth canal."

"It’s like pulling a baby out with forceps basically," says Bittar.

The baby is Dallal's paper sculture entitled Media Storm.

"The show is called Textscapes," says Dallal, "It really is work from 3 different bodies of work that I have done and they all involve text."

"They really are not meant to be read and the first thing you see are not words, what you see are looming landscapes and there’s a certain kind of romance to the pieces I think that prevent you from seeing the political or historical statement first," says Bittar.

Dallal adds, "It is specifically a sculpture made of photographic prints that I printed on rice paper and they are photographs of articles that were in the LA Times starting in 2002 with the build up to the recent Iraq war. The way it works is at the bottom are the 2002 articles and as it goes up to the top it grows and gets up to 2005."

The artist looks at the sculpture that is still scrunched up from being in a box and explains to Bittar and a gallery assistant how it should eventually look, "The bottom will sit on this [a small tree stump] and then it comes up it’s probably going to twist and then the top should go here."

This is the fourth time Dallal is installing her sculpture Media Storm. The piece makes its San Diego debut as part of Textscapes.

"They are various constructions," says Bittar of the exhibit, "Mostly photographs, based on various texts that have to do with the Iraq War, the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Joyce’s own identity as a woman of Iraqi descent and also Jewish."

Dallal says, "I liked the idea of making something that would tower over you and actually be created out of photographs, the text gets turned into smoke because it gets so blurry."

Bittar adds, "The initial thing about Joyce’s work that I absolutely love is it not only has meaning but it’s not didactic necessarily, it captures you at a very emotional level."

The women have been working most of the afternoon on Media Storm's tornado-like structure and Dallal assesses the situation and determines that they still have some shaping to do, and some patching to do.

The artist hopes visitors to the gallery will look into the eye of her Media Storm and perhaps see the world a little differently.

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