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Place, space explored at dA Gallery show

Dovey Dee came a long way to take part in the latest dA Gallery show. But, then again, she didn’t.

Ms. Dee, a painter, lives in Australia. Before emigrating Down Under in 2000 she studied art in Claremont, earning her bachelor’s degree from Scripps College in 1983 and a master’s from Claremont Graduate University in 1985. During the 1980s she was a fixture in the local art scene, and even spent time on dA’s board of directors.

She is one of four artists featured in “Tectonic Shifts: A Sense of Place, A Sense of Space,” a group show at the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona, which is up until July 22. The exhibit includes ceramic sculptures and video by Mary Beierle, photography by Jyoti Duwadi, as well as paintings and drawings by Rebecca Hamm.

Ms. Dee’s paintings offer her view of the arid topography of Australia’s more sparsely populated regions. Rocks in parts of Australia are more than 2.5 billion years old, among the oldest known in the world. By contrast, the landmass that makes up North America was formed less the 200 million years ago.

“I wanted to bring images of the Australian landscape back to California to show people that this is the geologic future of the planet,” she said.

Ms. Dee has traversed the whole of her adopted country’s wild landscapes, painting everything from the gold fields of Ballarat in central Victoria, to East Gippsland, the Alice Springs area and McDonnell ranges, as well as Western Australia.

Her work is a reminder of how the mountains have eroded and the massive rivers that once crisscrossed Australia have been reduced to “meandering streams and billabongs.

“There is also that tacit understanding that we are in fact custodians of the planet,” she added.

Ms. Dee talked at length about the role of the artist as reporter. She noted 14th century painters who recorded the only images of the mid-Ice Age, and going further back, pre-Ice Age Australian Aboriginal artists who depicted a much larger continental shelf, with the shore of the Indian Ocean much further away than it is in the present day.

“They actually have a record of that in their own cultural record in their art, music and storytelling,” she said, “so those things actually get preserved.”

That thread of preservation of our environment is what this show is all about, she said. It’s a big topic, to be sure. “It is,” she commented. “And this is just a small smattering of it.”

While stateside Ms. Dovey of course attended the June 10 opening at the dA, and also  “saw as much art as possible,” both in Los Angeles and at New York’s Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As if that weren’t enough, she took advantage of the United State’s recent movement toward marriage equality and wed her partner of 24 years, Libby O’Sullivan.

“It’s been a multi-purpose visit, really, but it’s been really good,” she said.

Her adopted home does not yet permit same-sex marriage. But, she added, Australia does afford nearly every other aspect of common full marital benefits to same-sex partners such as family health insurance and hospital visitation rights.

Admission is free to see “Tectonic Shifts: A Sense of Place, A Sense of Space,” at the dA Center for the Arts, 252 D South Main St., Pomona, through July 22. More information is at dacenter.org or (909) 397-9716.

—Mick Rhodes

mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

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