Past, Present, and Future, a Celebration of Axis Gallery

Axis Gallery is proud to present a series of online exhibits celebrating togetherness in this time of COVID-19.  Pairing both current and past members, a new exhibit will be posted every two weeks until we are able to reopen our physical location. We invite you to explore some of the work we have shown in the gallery, new work produced, and even some older pieces very few have seen.  You will also have the opportunity to see a little glimpse behind the scenes with video studio tours, artists sharing their techniques, inspirations and influences, and maybe even a glimpse of what they are working on now.  We are excited to share with you, in our new online space, a chance to continue to reach out to our community and offer another way to bring us all together.

Janice Nakashima -|- Aida Lizalde

Our third pairing of artists are Janice Nakashima and Aida Lizalde. In this installment, the artists explore the complexities of the migration experience, directly and indirectly.

Far from Home, 2019

Janice Nakashima
Far from Home, 2019
Dirt, Found Material, Sticks and Wire, 6 x 7 x 8 ft

Tabla ID, installation view, 2019

Aida Lizalde
Tabla ID, installation view, 2019
36 x 48 x 4 inches, Cyanotype on Fabric, Wood and Ceramic

Tabla (Detail), 2019

Aida Lizalde
Tabla (Detail), 2019

Tabla ID, 2019

Aida Lizalde
Tabla ID, 2019
36 x 48 x 4 inches, Cyanotype on Fabric, Wood and Ceramic
Collateral Debris, 2016

Janice Nakashima
Collateral Debris, 2016
Collateral Debris, Mixed Media, Dimensions variable

La Bruja y el Agua (video still), 2017

Aida Lizalde
La Bruja y el Agua (video still), 2017
Video Performance: 7:10 minutes
Floating, 2019

Janice Nakashima
Floating, 2019
Burnt Wood, Plastic Sheet and Wire, 5 x 6 x 18 inches

The Ranch (video still), 2018-20

Aida Lizalde
The Ranch (video still), 2018-20
Video Performance: 7:48 minutes
Not Enough Boats, 2019

Janice Nakashima
Not Enough Boats, 2019
Mixed Media, 18 x 15 x 2 inches

Feed (video still), 2016

Aida Lizalde
Feed (video still), 2016
Video Performance: 7:13 minutes
Rimfire 3, 2015

Janice Nakashima
Rimfire 3, 2015
Mixed Media, 20 x 20 inches

Janice Nakashima
In 2002 or 2003, I visited the 750 Gallery and met a few of its members who welcomed me to join.  The gallery was located on R. St. It closed shortly after I joined for a couple of years and then reopened on 19th Street.  Soon after that, the space was renamed Axis Gallery. It was interesting to learn the different aspects of running the gallery, meeting other local artists, and also having a venue to exhibit work that did not emphasize selling. A few years after, Axis moved to it’s current location on S Street. The gallery continued to evolve with new members.  I have really valued the 15 or so years I spent at Axis and have very much enjoyed meeting and working with my colleagues there.

Janice Nakashima is a third generation Japanese American (sansei).  She lives and works in Sacramento, CA. Her grandparents emigrated from Japan and worked at various jobs such as farming, cannery work, and gardening. Nakashima’s parents were born in the U.S. and went on to college and professional work. Janice grew up in the Bay Area, then lived to Fresno and then Southern California. She taught for a few years in a variety of places from junior high through college and adult education. She was able to get a MFA at Claremont University and has worked in her studio for many years in various locations, settling in Sacramento. One can say, migration has been a running theme in Nakashima’s life and is expressed in the selected work for this exhibition.

Aida Lizalde
I became an Axis Member in 2017 thanks to Manuel Fernando Rios, Roma Devambu, and Richard Gilles, all current members who encouraged me to apply. I was still an undergraduate student completing my degree in Studio Arts at Davis so paying the membership fees was a challenge. I received help from an anonymous donor to pay for the first few months. I am deeply appreciative of that help and encouragement to continue and grow in my art career.

Aida Lizalde is a Mexican multimedia artist based in Northern California. She obtained a Bachelor of Art in Studio Arts and Minor in Art History from the University of California Davis. Lizalde uses her artwork to raise questions about power structures and explores cultural identity through narrative and symbolism. She invites the viewer to consider and empathize with the struggle of navigating the immigration system, the process of assimilating to American culture and the nuances of having an identity that is continuously shaped by capitalism, neocolonialism, and politics.

The exploration of artistic materials is an essential part of how she expresses her personal experiences in relation to power structures and status. Aida employs multiple media to create her work including construction materials, textiles, performances, video, photography and ceramics. Ceramic is central to her practice; she molds and manipulate clay to explore tactile sensations and thinks about the connections between her body, labor, and the world around her.

Phil Amrhein -|- Tavarus Blackmon

"Untitled (U #2)", 2019

Phil Amrhein
"Untitled (U #2)", 2019
acrylic & spray paint on dibond, 22" x 28"
Mom's Dead 1, 2019

Tavarus Blackmon
Mom's Dead 1, 2019
archival inkjet pigment print, 30 x 48 inches
"Untitled (U #6)", 2019

Phil Amrhein
"Untitled (U #6)", 2019
acrylic & spray paint on dibond, 30" x 24"
Mom's Dead 2, 2019

Tavarus Blackmon
Mom's Dead 2, 2019
archival inkjet pigment print, 30 x 48 inches
"Untitled (U #7)", 2019

Phil Amrhein
"Untitled (U #7)", 2019
acrylic & spray paint on dibond, 28" x 22"
Mom's Dead 4, 2019

Tavarus Blackmon
Mom's Dead 4, 2019
archival inkjet pigment print, 30 x 48 inches
"Untitled (U #8)", 2019

Phil Amrhein
"Untitled (U #8)", 2019
acrylic & spray paint on dibond, 22" x 28"
Mom's Dead 6, 2019

Tavarus Blackmon
Mom's Dead 6, 2019
archival inkjet pigment print, 30 x 48 inches
"Untitled (U #11)", 2019

Phil Amrhein
"Untitled (U #11)", 2019
acrylic & spray paint on dibond, 28" x 22"
Mom’s Dead-Black and White, 2019

Tavarus Blackmon
Mom’s Dead-Black and White, 2019

"Untitled (U #12)"

Phil Amrhein
"Untitled (U #12)"
2019, acrylic & spray paint on dibond, 28" x 22"
Mom’s Dead-Black Mom, 2019

Tavarus Blackmon
Mom’s Dead-Black Mom, 2019
archival inkjet pigment print, 30 x 48 inches
"Untitled (U #15)"

Phil Amrhein
"Untitled (U #15)"
2019, acrylic & spray paint on dibond, 28" x 22"
Mom's Dead-Dark Mom, 2020

Tavarus Blackmon
Mom's Dead-Dark Mom, 2020
archival inkjet pigment print, 30 x 48 inches
"Untitled (U #16)"

Phil Amrhein
"Untitled (U #16)"
2020, acrylic & spray paint on dibond, 22" x 28"
Mom's Dead-Night Mom, 2020

Tavarus Blackmon
Mom's Dead-Night Mom, 2020
archival inkjet pigment print, 30 x 48 inches
"Untitled (U #17)"

Phil Amrhein
"Untitled (U #17)"
2019, acrylic & spray paint on dibond, 28" x 22"
Mom's Dead-Red Mom, 2020

Tavarus Blackmon
Mom's Dead-Red Mom, 2020
archival inkjet pigment print, 30 x 48 inches
"Untitled (U #18)"

Phil Amrhein
"Untitled (U #18)"
2019, acrylic & spray paint on dibond, 28" x 22"
Mom’s Dead-White Mom, 2019

Tavarus Blackmon
Mom’s Dead-White Mom, 2019
archival inkjet pigment print, 30 x 48 inches

Phil Amrhein

I joined 750 Gallery about 20 years ago when it was located in downtown Sacramento between 7th & 8th on J Street.  The space was about 500 square feet upstairs on the 2nd floor. Jim Adan, David White, Richard James, and Les Birleson were some of the members (can’t remember all the names).  We exhibited members work and curated challenging contemporary shows every month. After a few years the landlord raised the rent, and we were forced to find a new space.

We moved to 25th & R in 2003.  It was a large mixed building complex that included two theaters, art studio spaces and our small space (about 300 sq ft).  After a couple years the landlord increased the rent, and we were ready to move on.  We were looking for a place that was more visible and accessible.  At this time member Ron Peetz, and I knew that the Center for Contemporary Art Sacramento located on Del Paso Blvd. was looking for a new space. We talked to their board members and proposed renting a shared space that would house both galleries.  Lower rent made our proposal viable for both parties. Louis Greenwald (the Center’s board president) and I spent many days searching the midtown area for a building that could house both galleries. We eventually found an abandoned building on 19th street for rent – great location but needed lots of work (2005). The owner of the building liked the idea of leasing to art galleries, and he was willing to refurbish the building to fit our needs. We were very fortunate.  The Center occupied about 2/3 of the building. Our space was small (about 350 sq ft.), but we made it work. The gallery now had a new space, great location, and a new name – Axis Gallery.

Axis was at this location for 9 years. The Center was struggling – board members were leaving and our Gallery was in limbo again.  The Center closed in 2014 and their board members joined a new art center – Verge Center for the Arts – housed in a large warehouse building in Sacramento on the corner of 7th and S street. About this same time, Verge offered to rent a corner of their building to us. The space was almost 2000 sq ft. By increasing our membership, the rent was well within our budget. Axis moved to the Verge Center in 2014.

Phil Amrhein is a practicing artist living in Sacramento, Ca. and has been exhibiting his work for over thirty years. He is a graduate of UC Davis with a MA in studio art from CSU Sacramento. Amrhein taught high school art for many years and was a longtime member of Axis Gallery. His current studio focus is “undoing” – a painting series covering or burying images with fields of black.

Tavarus Blackmon

Going back to 2012, I have had an extended and non-traditional relationship with Axis Gallery. Between 2012 and 2014 I submitted artwork to the Axis Annual Exhibition. During my first submissions I was a Film Student, only practicing art part-time and learning about professional practice through trial and error. The work I made then was Art Brut, I was then untrained and, my work was Low-Brow.

Over several years and two Master’s in Art in Studio Art, my work improved and developed. After graduating from UC Davis I was contacted by fellow member, Omar Arason. He asked if I was interested in applying for membership. I was happy to have applied and been admitted as a member. Before I knew much about the Sacramento Art scene, I knew that Axis Gallery was a prominent space for contemporary art. I became a member in 2018.

Tavarus Blackmon, also known by the Anglo-Saxon, Blackmonster, lives with his partner and three children in the City of Trees, Sacramento, California. He earned his MFA as Provost Fellow at the University of California Davis and MA at Sacramento State University. He has been under Fellowship at the Headlands Center for the Arts and the Kala Art Institute. His practice is interdisciplinary and intermedium.

Mark Emerson -|- Justin Marsh

Falling Down, 2010

Mark Emerson
Falling Down, 2010
Polymer on canvas – 86x72
Phlem, 2018

Justin Marsh
Phlem, 2018
Oil on canvas, 80"x60"
From the series "The Four Humors"
Color Blind, 2011

Mark Emerson
Color Blind, 2011
Polymer on linen – 24x24
Blood, 2018

Justin Marsh
Blood, 2018
Oil on canvas, 80"x60"
From the series "The Four Humors"
Ollerchock, 2008

Mark Emerson
Ollerchock, 2008
Polymer on panel – 20x20
Yellow Bile, 2018

Justin Marsh
Yellow Bile, 2018
Oil on canvas, 80"x60"
From the series "The Four Humors"
Note for Note, 2014

Mark Emerson
Note for Note, 2014
Polymer on canvas – 24x30
Black Bile, 2018

Justin Marsh
Black Bile, 2018
Oil on canvas, 41" x 60"
From the series "The Four Humors"
Utfart, 2008

Mark Emerson
Utfart, 2008
Polymer on panel – 70x70
Joy and Misery, 2017

Justin Marsh
Joy and Misery, 2017
Acrylic and color pencil on paper mounted to board, 29"x21"
From the series "Elegant Collapse"
Running Away, 2014

Mark Emerson
Running Away, 2014
Polymer on canvas, 50x50
Polarizing, 2013

Justin Marsh
Polarizing, 2013
Acrylic and color pencil on paper, 29"x21"
From the series "Elegant Collapse"
Take That Off, 2013

Mark Emerson
Take That Off, 2013
Polymer on canvas, 50x50
Slogan 151. 2015

Justin Marsh
Slogan 151. 2015
Acrylic on paper mounted to board, 15"x22"
From the series "Countless Tounges and Ears"
Slogan 152, 2015

Justin Marsh
Slogan 152, 2015
Acrylic on paper mounted to board, 15"x22"
From the series "Countless Tounges and Ears"
Toss and Turn, 2014

Mark Emerson
Toss and Turn, 2014
Polymer on canvas, 50x50
There Was A Crashing In, 2010-2012

Justin Marsh
There Was A Crashing In, 2010-2012
Oil on canvas, 80"x60"
From the series "Elegant Collapse"
Pussy Wiggle Stomp, 2008

Mark Emerson
Pussy Wiggle Stomp, 2008
Polymer on panel – 20x20
Three Studies: Father, 2014

Justin Marsh
Three Studies: Father, 2014
Acrylic and color pencil on paper, 30"x22"
From the series "Elegant Collapse"
Orange for Cathy, 2013

Mark Emerson
Orange for Cathy, 2013
Polymer on canvas – 40x50
Untitled, 2015

Justin Marsh
Untitled, 2015
Acrylic, xerox transfer and color pencil on paper, 22"x15"
From the series "Elegant Collapse"

Mark Emerson
After living and teaching in Los Angeles for 3 years I returned to Sacramento in the spring of 1990. In 1991, I curated an exhibition for the Kondos Gallery at Sacramento City College, "SACRAMENTO ABSTRATION". While gathering the content of the exhibition, a colleague and friend, Bill Yates suggested I contact David Wetzl. David's work fit the criteria for the exhibition perfectly, which is how I became aware of the Axis Gallery, which was called 750 Gallery at the time. David was one of the founding members of the 750 Gallery. The original gallery was located in a large private home at 750 Fulton Ave. When I met David, the gallery had recently moved to downtown Sacramento at 17th and I Street. I joined the gallery in 1992, at the time that Michael Prawdzic was the Director and David was the Installation Director. David and I began collaborating on the installations in the gallery every 2nd Friday in preparation for Second Saturday. The gallery space was little more than a barn. It was cold and leaked when it rained in the winter and was hot as hell in the summer. The gallery featured one person exhibitions, member group shows, themed shows and occasionally invited high school students to exhibit their work. As with any cooperative space, working with a group of artists was sometimes a Sisyphean task. However, the 750 Gallery consistently provided Sacramento with a valid, thoughtful and engaging exhibition every month.  My 3 years with 750 Gallery, left me with very fond memories, lifelong friends and a tremendous respect for the work and dedication that still exists at the Axis Gallery.

Mark Emerson is a fine artist with a concentration in painting. He received a BA from California State University, Sacramento and an MFA from the University of California, Davis. To date his work has been featured in 24 solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions.

Justin Marsh
In 2011 I was working for the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento as an exhibition preparator. I had just put a few roots down, having moved from the South Bay in 2009 to spend the entire spring and summer of 2010 installing the Crocker’s collection in a massive new facility. With a couple years professional experience in the region, I felt seriously motivated to elevate my studio practice and so sought out galleries around downtown. I had heard of Axis through the gallery’s National Juried exhibition which garnished great attention from emerging artists. Well, in fact, I had applied to the Juried Exhibition- maybe the third or the fifth- I can’t remember. When I walked into the gallery in 2011, I met Sandra Beard, an intelligent, tactful, and serious artist. The gallery was located on 19th street in a shared commercial space with the Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento. The building’s black and white brick façade and large bay windows made for a compelling stop along 19th street. I got to talking with Sandra and she explained to me how the gallery operated as an artist-owned cooperative and encouraged me to apply.
Dedicated artists with complete agency over their work? Check. A reputable operation, partnered with a motivated non-profit? Check. A collective with a rich history of artists and the potential to grow based on the shared knowledge of past and present members? Yeah, I wanted to be a part.
In just over a year, I’d have my first solo exhibition with Axis Gallery and simultaneously welcomed my son into the world. In many ways, I took guidance from former Member President Phil Amrhein and current Member President Richard Gilles. At 28, I had a seat at the table with great artists like Ron Peetz and Joy Bertinuson; all sharing our experience as artists.

Justin Marsh is a California native working between multiple art mediums with a specific interest in comprehending failure. His studio practice explores personal/human tragedy, collapsed structures, and structural collapse. He is an artist member at Axis Gallery, Sacramento and a museum professional at UC Davis.