curious narratives santa cruz art league
Jean Sheckler Beebe talks about her painting that is part of the current show at the Santa Cruz Art League, “Curious Narratives: Imagined Memories.” Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Larger than life eyeball models stare from a desk drawer; a paper bird clings to a swing inside an antique cage; a set of pastel crayons are tucked neatly into a vest pocket; globes, candles, early day photos, antlers—the visual explosion goes on and on inside the Santa Cruz Art  League.

The conglomeration, which looks like the garage meets the basement meets the attic, forms “Curious Narratives: Imagined Memories,” by Judy Stabile, Wendy Aikin and Jean Sheckler Beebe, and was inspired by Aikin’s 2018 Pajaro Valley Arts exhibit, “The Curator’s Office.” 

The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 6 at 526 Broadway in Santa Cruz, features a life-size cabinet of curiosities of an imaginary museum curator. Within the cabinet are assembled boxes that contain imagined collections gathered by fictional characters. 

In their first collaboration, Aikin, Beebe and Stabile expand on selected themed boxes with their interpretations of the characters depicted in Aikin’s assemblages. Through sculpture, collage, assemblage, painting, found objects and fiber arts, the trio developed their fictional characters and environments for their imagined lives.

curious narratives santa cruz art league
An art box, photos, art supplies, early day artifacts and such are just a fraction of what goes into the multi-layered exhibit. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

An exhibit profile about the artists states:

“Wendy Aikin is fascinated by the Cabinets of Curiosity or Wunderkammer, that were the precursors to museums. She channels her curiosity for the unusual through her art, creating assemblages and installations that become visual narratives of imaginary characters. Inspired by antique photos of forgotten people and items they might have possessed; discarded painter’s boxes serve as the perfect receptacles for her visual storytelling.” 

“Jean Sheckler Beebe’s paintings are complex, having layers of paint, paper, drawing and sometimes found objects, but they are not nearly as complex as human beings are. While her painting may be figurative, narrative or non-objective, they are expressionistic and abstract. She strives to create a symbolic language to represent the emotional themes of her work.”

“Judy Stabile works in a variety of media, materials and processes. While employing a variety of techniques, her work describes the everyday of home, family, and friends both real and imagined. ‘Curious Narratives’ affords her the opportunity to explore the personalities of imagined figures through sculpture, fiber and painting.”

The show, which opened Nov. 17 and runs through Jan. 6, is open for viewing Wednesday-Saturday from 1-4pm at 526 Broadway. Admission is free.

An opening reception will coincide with First Friday, Dec. 1, from 6-8pm. An artist talk will take place Dec. 2 from 1:30-3pm and Family Day is scheduled for Dec. 11, 1-3pm.

For information, visit or call Executive Director Valéria Miranda at 426.5787.

curious narratives santa cruz art league
Desk drawers are full of eyeball models, surrounded by crude eye paintings in one corner of the exhibit. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian
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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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