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Artists make ‘visible’ blends of pop culture

Mariela Patron
Staff Writer

The Harris Art Gallery showcased drawings from Los Angeles based artists Joel Biel, Patrick Lee, Mark Dean Veca and Eric Yahnker, which included head shot portraits and artwork that combined pop culture imagery on Sept. 13.

The first thing that popped out of the white walls was Yahnker’s colored pencil painting, “Fat Bastard.”

“It’s a kaleidoscope experience,” art gallery director Dion Johnson said.

“Fat Bastard” is made up of many different pieces that look as if they were put back together to create an overweight man with a smiling childlike face.

Among the burst of blue, gold and red colors that “Fat Bastard” is wearing, there were also swastika signs scattered throughout the drawing.

Yahnker does a lot of art work in regards to cultural topics, Johnson said.

“By using humor to address these topics, you can look at the in a different way,” Johnson said.

Yahnker also uses pop culture in “Doritos Sweet Chili Heat with Dorothy,” where the surprised face of Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz” is composed of a Doritos bag.

Dorothy is drawn in black and white and the Doritos bag brings the burst of color into the picture.

“It reminds me of the times of Andy Warhol,” junior international studies major Paula Zepeda said.

In the “Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy starts in black and white and when she arrives at Oz, she and the world around her is transformed to color.

“Instead of Oz creating the colorization, it is Doritos,” Johnson said.

Doritos is also a play on words of Dorothy’s name, Johnson said.

Veca also used pop culture images such as Cookie Monster, Kool-Aid man and a dollar sign in his India ink and acrylic paintings.

Veca makes his drawings look ‘gooey’ and as if they are dripping out of the canvas.

“I like how he was able to create a 3D effect with the line quality that he used,” sophomore international business major Heidi Chow said.

In Lee’s portraits, “Deadly Friends,” he uses graphite to capture the toughness and physical details of two men who appear to be gang affiliated.

One man has a tattoo on his neck of a skeletal demon creature holding a gun; meanwhile the other portrait is of a man with a scar running from his cheekbone down his neck and a tattoo with the word “Head.”

“I’ve never seen a drawing that crisp, so soft and smooth,” student from Chaffey College, Trisha Lin, said. “It’s so soft on something so harsh.”

In Biel’s pencil, gouache and watercolor drawings, Biel captures obscure and violent images displayed in old television sets stacked together.

Some of the images the television sets displayed were cars burning, a man with a bloody smile, and a shuttle in flames.

In simple black and white, Biel is able to capture the intensity of the drawings and make it seem as if these events were captured and will remain alive through television.

The exhibit is open till Oct. 18.

Mariela Patron can be reached at

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