Monstrous features embellish sculptures

Gallery highlights altered creatures, digital paintings


Cody Casares / The Advocate

“The Plotting” (left) and “Guardian of the Underneath” (right) by Brooke Leigh Fletcher are on display in the “Dolls and Things” exhibit in Maple Hall at the San Pablo Art Gallery.

By Roxana Amparo, Associate Editor

SAN PABLO — Little sculpted creatures, dolls and digital paintings from two Richmond artists decorate the San Pablo Art Gallery at Maple Hall here while the art exhibit “Dolls and Things” is on display through Dec. 13.

The exhibit displays the creations of artists Brooke Fletcher and Patricia McCarthy-Tamayo, who share a unique perspective in the world of art.

“Living beings inspire me, from humans to animals to insects, and everything in-between,” Fletcher said. “I enjoy extracting vulnerabilities and frailties as seen in the physical and emotional realm.”

Among Fletcher’s creations are little creatures called Smurdles. They stand on feet of three toes while their other features include bug eyes, frowns, rough skin and a set of hair on a gremlin-after-dinner body.

“Sometimes my sculptures are based off of a person I know or just people I observe,” she said.

San Pablo Art Gallery Curator Anne Austin said, “I wouldn’t know what to call them, but they resemble the creatures from ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.”

“The faces are extremely expressive and convey all kind of emotions,” Austin said. “They are a little frightening but the name takes away the scary from them.”

Names like “Puddles and His Troubles,” given to a sad-looking monster, can derail observers from the idea of scary.

Both artists work with an assortment of mediums and pieces to create their pieces.

Fletcher said she likes to “blur” the lines with materials by using organic found objects, such as bones, dehydrated vegetables, hair, birds nests and others. She also uses inorganic material, such as epoxy resin, latex rubber, faux fur and whatever else she needs to get the desired effect.

Fletcher’s piece “The Plotting” is made out of ceramic, epoxy resin, mixed media, organic and inorganic materials. The sculpture has ceramic feathers and is reminiscent of a big bird sitting on a log while having a mischievous look on its face.

McCarthy-Tamayo said, “I am an artist of many interests and a variety of skills in both fine and commercial art.”

Digital paintings, hand-painted canvases and clothing decorate the walls while dolls and things are displayed on pedestals.

Walking up the stairs leads to other art forms made by Fletcher located on the second floor of the building, such as jean jackets with well-known comic characters painted on them, dolls with fur and real bone pieces to add to the detail.

Austin said the work the artists do is “painstakingly detail-oriented.”

McCarthy-Tamayo recreates orphan dolls by mixing and matching pieces which results in a creation such as “Wolfgang,” an infant wolf doll holding a milk bottle with its long claws.

“No two dolls are ever alike unless requested or if twin dolls are created,” McCarthy-Tamayo said.

Austin said McCarthy-Tamayo approached her during an art opening and said, “I alter dolls.”

Austin said, “Send me photos. Send me JPEGs.”

Upon receiving a spot at the gallery, Maple Hall allows for Bay Area artists to display their art free of charge for up to five weeks, Austin said.

“We don’t take commissions. It is a wonderful thing for the community of artists,” she said.

Prices for the pieces on display range from a digital illustration at $20 to an “Endangered Species” seven-piece acrylic painting for $850.

Austin chooses to display an artist’s work in various ways: online, galleries or announcements. Local artists also reach out to her during art receptions or send art packets.