Bridget Rountree and Iain Gunn's University Heights home is a hotbed of creativity. The married couple and artistic collaborators were each recipients of the 2013 San Diego Foundation's innovative Creative Catalyst: Individual Artist Fellowship Program, which teams artists with nonprofits and puts up to $20,000 of grant money in artists' hands (the nonprofits' involvement helps ensure public programming and other tangible results).
During the last year, Rountree and Gunn have been busy creating new work. While Gunn's is still a few months away, Rountree is ready to show roughly 25 new mixed-media pieces, two large-scale paintings and found sculptural objects in Valuable Content, a solo show opening from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at Helmuth Projects (1827 Fifth Ave. in Bankers Hill).
"The Creative Catalyst is a huge, huge, huge help," says Rountree, who'd been spending most of her time on the couple's experimental-puppetry project, Animal Cracker Conspiracy.
The grant allowed Rountree to focus on her own artwork again and gave her the time and money needed to home in on a concept and create one cohesive body of work using found materials to tell a story.
Rountree's concept has evolved over time, eventually taking shape as a series comparing different ideologies and examining the hierarchy constructed when one culture attempts to "help" another; in some of the works, images of history's perceived "winners" are set against images of the "losers." A found photo of a Native American warrior in one of the works, for example, is seamlessly woven together with a found image of a painting of a European prince.
"You can't have the savior without the saved," Rountree says, picking up a few other mixed-media works made by precisely cutting and pasting the two found photos together.
In other pieces, including the two big paintings in the show, Rountree mashes up Renaissance portraiture with minimalistic modernist works, still attempting to juxtapose the ideologies and politics represented by the different painting styles.
Rountree, who partnered with nonprofit Young Audiences and recently hosted art-making workshops for Barrio Logan teens, wants the clashing imagery to inspire thought and conversation.
"Hopefully, a space opens up for reconsidering what these images mean, a place where people can think about what's being represented in an image and its connotations," she says.