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Laura Orella
Antioch East Bay Times
June 26 1997

Antioch- If you’d like to experience a garden in full bloom,  tip toe through the Lynn House and see what’ s climbing up the walls.

Antioch Civic Arts Commission promises to uncover a hidden garden when it opens its latest exhibit, “Katina Huston; Petals,” today in the gallery. 

The Oakland artist will give visitors a bird’s-eye view of the way a calla lily curtsies in the breeze or an amaryllis curls up at night with her conceptual flora drawings and paintings.

However, don’t expect the artworks to be still lifes of flowers in vases or mounted neatly in frames. Huston creates the illusion of actual flowers emerging from the ground to the sky by using whole walls to reconstruct what one might see outside. 

By designing parts of flowers with stems and leaves on pale yellow drafting paper, Huston creates a series of panels which she then overlays, sometimes from floor to ceiling, with petals and vines out stretching across a wall.

The installation-type format which utilizes all existing space around a piece, the artist says, gives viewers an opportunity to get inside the work and become part of the space. Visitors can experience the way irises might look with the sun behind them and sun flowers from all angles and lilies crawling toward the sky.

“There’s a feeling you get when you’re standing in the middle of a flower market or right in the center of a blooming plum tree that’s just incredible,” Huston said. “I try to recreate that feeling with my work and let people really connect to the work, that they are part of it instead of just an outsider looking in.”

The artist, a 1995 master’s graduate from Mill’s College, said she starts with a basic elements, such as one gladiola and begins to follow its movement, creating more and more gladiola, which represent the action it takes. To further show the way, the petals might actually move, the panels are not completely tacked down. Corners are left free to curl and untracked edges blow up as viewers walk by.

Huston also designed a dress solely of rose petals she sewed together. The dress will be on display to complement the show. 

Curator Lisa Lodeski chose Huston to be the first artist to have a solo exhibit in the gallery after becoming enamored by the free forms herself. She said the show will give people an opportunity to see more of an installation-type exhibit as well as a chance to see flowers in a new light.

“Katina Huston really makes us reconsider floras as a subject because these artworks are not just about pretty flowers in a vase. This exhibit is not traditional at all,“  Lodeski said

I think visitors will enjoy being surrounded by their subject, becoming part of the piece and seeing who the environment changes while they are in the space,” the curator said. “The parameters between viewer and artwork really blur in this show. Houston really knows how to manipulate space. “

“I feel lucky because I get to concern myself with something lovely every day, but flowers as a subject is challenging as well,” Huston said. “Because every flower is different, I am constantly in training, trying to recreate what makes each flower specific. It’s gratifying to get it right. 

“Lodeski interviewed Huston about her work and the process the artist goes through when creating.

This discussion will be part of an audio tour available to those who see the show. Huston will also be on hand to answer questions from 7 to 9pm tonigh during the opening reception.

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