Ron Peetz is a conceptualist with a mordant sense of humor and a knack for matching materials to ideas. The meanings of his mostly sculptural works typically spring from clever punch lines that have a way of whacking you upside the head right about the time you’re ready to dismiss them for being too glib. Lately, his concerns have centered around Big Questions – mortality and faith – while also touching on political, cultural or personal interests. All get ample airing in this exhibition titled Objects in the Mirror.
Tombstones carrying text are one of the artist’s favorite vehicles. One, Dying to Know, appears in a photo carrying those same words. It asks: What happens after death? The religious presumption, that the answer arrives posthumously, points to the absurdity of having to die to unlock life’s biggest mystery. Another tombstone, Touch Stone, is inscribed with the line: “I came into this world without my consent…and I will go out in the same manner.” Peetz made the piece before Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a doctor-assisted suicide bill. But his point — that forces larger than us rule the universe — resonates. So does a dinner plate that has superimposed on it an image of The Last Supper with a triangular slice removed, saying, essentially, that we are all dessert for the grim reaper.
Lest you think Peetz overly grim, there’s evidence of the artist's goofball side as well. For example, he fuses a dog’s body and a violin case into a single entity and calls it Song for R. Mutt, a tribute to (or sendup of) Duchamp. Similarly, he weds an instrument case to a suitcase and calls it Making a Case for Tiny Moore, an obscure reference that only fans of western swing will catch: Moore played mandolin for Bob Wills and Merle Haggard and retired to Sacramento where he taught music for many years before dying in 1987.