Emeritus exhibit endorses discussion on mystery art

A lot of students shy away from gallery openings and art exhibits feeling intimidated and unable to understand the art piece displayed in front of them. One great way to overcome that fear is by getting to know the art through its creator when visiting a gallery reception.

Santa Monica College's Emeritus College Faculty Art Exhibition took place last Thursday night and was an event where students, instructors, and interested community members had the chance to interact with one other.

“Students don't realize how much input they have, contributing to the art,” said faculty member Susan Ryza, who has been teaching jewelry-making classes at Emeritus for seven years. “I have students who have been coming since I first started teaching, so I have to keep getting new project ideas constantly, which is really exciting for me.”

Thursday’s reception was filled with outspoken artists sending a message through their work.

Ruth San Pietro, a passionate environmentalist and faculty member at Emeritus, displayed her sculptural painting “Melting Habitat,” that was made out of 100% recycled paper fiber.

Focusing on climate change and how it affects and endangers our sensitive ecosystems was San Pietro's way to draw attention to the subject.

Another artwork worth mentioning was Chris Hero's contribution of the “Forgotten Notebooks.”

This cloth-bound original paper manuscript includes text in unknown languages and many obscure images and drawings.

According to Hero, the work came to light after the 1996 Marina del Rey earthquake when a salvage crew, working in a row of collapsed buildings on West Washington Boulevard in Venice, recovered these books, pages, and other artifacts. This suggests that the existence of an artist’s studio or library had once occupied one of the ruined buildings.

Visitors at the reception kept guessing arguing over the origins of the enigmatic “Heroic Library” stamp on each page of the two displayed manuscripts.

According to Santa Monica College geology professor, Richard Robinson, we have earthquakes in the offshore area every once in a while, “but this one doesn't ring any bells with me.”

While gallery visitors didn't seem to question the manuscripts’ authenticity, Hero seemed to run out of answers when asked whether there was research done to find the name of the artist living at the address of the collapsed building.

“How much do you really want to know?” he asked. To see this mysterious piece of art and other works, check out the Emeritus College Faculty Art Exhibition, which will be on display until October 21.

The gallery is located on the first floor of Emeritus College, 1227 Second St., in Downtown Santa Monica. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, call (310) 434-4306 or

Click here to go to the Emeritus College Artwork Website.