Artist Shares ‘Female Follies of Aging’

Friday’s sunny, balmy weather was the perfect enticement to enjoy a drive along West Marin County’s Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Turning right on Highway 1 at Olema, I continued past rolling, green pastures and lazy, grazing horses toward tiny Point Reyes Station. I visited a store with awesome handmade jewelry and arrived at my destination: Gallery Route One and Mimi Abers’ sculpture exhibition, “The Follies of Old Age.”

I finished up this fun day by returning to my Berkeley office and speaking with Abers, also Berkeley-based, by telephone.

Abers’ wonderfully textured sculptures, invoking the human figure, are made from clay and combined with materials such as “pate de verre” cast glass, blown glass and metals. With titles like “Joyful Follies,” “Hope Dims,” “The Terrorist,” “Unfettered,” “Truth and Passion,” “Spirits Falter” and “Spirits Soar,” these works cover the emotional span of a long life, especially from the female perspective. I suggested to Abers that the show could be called “the female follies of aging,” and she laughingly replied, “Yes, that’s it!”

Abers said her most personal piece is “Nana’s Song.” Accompanied by a Bertolt Brecht poem, the sculpture is a bust of a woman with her head held in her large, arthritic hands. There is a cavelike impression in the woman’s stomach that holds small glass objects: a baby, a small, joyful child and more.

“My own hands are very arthritic, and I made the piece after dreaming of having more children when I was too old for it,” Abers said.

“Balance” is a female contentedly posed in a yoga headstand-like position. “I have been taking some serious yoga classes, and I just mastered that stance. That is probably my most positive piece, and it, of course, refers to the challenge of finding balance in life,” she said.

I very much enjoyed Abers’ work. She effectively combines an artist’s vision with acute technical skills. Her pate de verre glass casting technique was used by Roman artists some 2,000 years ago.

It turns out that Abers is a veritable role model for us all. Like many artists, she holds a day job for steady income. Abers, 68, works with many very young adults at George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic. She is a digital effects artist compositor and has worked on such films as “Chronicles of Narnia” and “Star Wars Episode III.”

As if all this weren’t enough, Abers swims daily, and keeps up with family and friends.