Eclectic works reveal artistry

Hobbyist, alumnus displays surreal, realistic sculptures in gallery


Cody Casares / The Advocate

Health and human services major Carolyn Tran surveys a sculpture by CCC alumnus C.E. Small in the Eddie Rhodes Gallery on Thursday.

By Michael Santone, Advocate Staff

An intimate reception filled with family, friends, students and art enthusiasts showed their support for two local artists from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday in the Eddie Rhodes Gallery.

The exhibit features the works of Contra Costa College alumni Allen Perlof and C.E. Small, made in various mediums including ceramics, mixed media and sculptures.

Perlof’s delicate ceramics juxtapose Small’s intricate sculptures.

Perlof’s collection in the exhibit was made throughout his 47 years of making pottery.

The collection includes an eclectic mix of beautifully made plates, bowls and vases with different textures, finishes and designs.

He said the variety of texture and style in the exhibit was a result of trial and error. 

Perlof said, “It’s more experimental than inspiration.”

The style depends on how he feels at the time he begins to work, but he said the simplicity of the shape eventually takes the lead in the direction how the visual of the piece will finish.

Music student Nina Cestaro said the craftsmanship, time and dedication seen through the art work of the two artists are what brought her into the gallery.

“The tea pot is one of my favorites. (I don’t know) how he got the color. It’s amazing and almost iridescent,” she said of one of Perlof’s pieces.

Perlof has been a staple in the art department for more than 15 years, volunteering as a studio assistant.

He holds a large role in ceramics as he handles many of the daily duties including heating the kiln for firing the pieces, Cestaro said.

The exhibit also features Small’s sculptures and mixed media.

He said he considers himself as a “talented hobbyist” because some of his pieces in the exhibit date back to the 1970s. Small said he passed through seven eras of individual style over the years.

This resulted series with pig faces, oversized hands, fish, masks and faces.

He also featured elongated necks and torsos, with some of his work made out of body castings.

All of his work is done in clay. Some pieces have an additional element such as glasses, walnuts, or headphones for design.

Art major Taze Etibo said he admires the work produced by Perlof and Small.

He said, “The art is nice. I like the ones with the faces.”  Etibo said his favorite was a huge pig head popping up from a manhole, smoking a cigar and wearing a hard hat.

Etibo said the piece involving the pig is attractive because “the shadows, color and depth” make it stand out from all of the other works in the exhibit.

Fine and media arts professor Dana Davis, who is also the curator for the Eddie Rhodes Gallery, said it is a tradition of the gallery’s exhibits to hold a reception to honor the featured artists and “to bring it into a person realm.”

The exhibit featuring Perlof’s and Small’s art works can be seen in the gallery until Oct. 7.