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Carnegie retrospective explores Turlock artists creative journey
carnegie pic
"Totem," 2012, wood and mixed media piece by Carnegie Distinguished Artist John Barnett. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Carnegie Arts Center is opening an exhibit from former California State University, Stanislaus professor and artist John Barnett, focusing on his body of works that find the beauty in the smallest elements of nature.

Barnett has also been selected as the Carnegie’s Distinguished Artist recipient for the year.

“We are extremely proud to honor John Barnett this year,” said Rebecca Phillips Abbott, the Carnegie’s executive director and curator. “He is an accomplished sculptor, first and foremost. He is also a remarkable painter, draftsman, wordsmith and educator.”

The retrospective, “John Barnett: Then and Again,” features about 70 pieces, including one completed at age 16 and one finished just a few weeks ago. Much of Barnett’s work is tied to the Romantic Movement in the history of art, with a focus on the dynamic and spiritual presence of nature.

“In his art it comes out loud and clear that he loves nature with intensity, and in particular, it’s smallest details,” Abbott said. “He looks around at all the things we pass by and finds the beauty in them.”

Barnett’s sculptures begin with materials from nature and from there he transforms them into art, working primarily in cast bronze and cast aluminum.

Barnett’s artistic endeavors also include paintings, drawings, short stories and fanciful musings, all of which are included in the retrospective.

Barnett served as professor of art at CSU Stanislaus from 1987-2007. He also taught at CSU Chico from 1984-1986. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Washington University in 1967 and a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the University of Washington in 1971.

“It’s an honor for the Carnegie to celebrate a regional artist that has achieved such remarkable heights in his art,” Abbotts said.

Barnett will be discussing his artistic works as part of his lecture “Encouraging the Fortunate Accident,” at 2 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Carnegie. It is free of charge.

The exhibit will be on view starting today and running through April 14. Admission is $7 for general admission and $6 for members and seniors.