Future of OCMA's Pacific Standard Time Latin America show is uncertain

OCMA received a $170,000 grant from the Getty for PST: LA/LA. Will the exhibition go through?

One year ago, the Getty Foundation announced the list of Southern California institutions that would receive grants for a new wave of exhibitions exploring Latin American and U.S. Latino art. The initiative, known as Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, dispensed research grants to nearly four dozen institutions around the region. Among them: the Orange County Museum of Art, which received $170,000 for an exhibition on 1960s light and kinetic art from Latin America — one of the more generous grants awarded.

But in late March, the museum laid off five staffers, including chief curator Dan Cameron, who had been conducting research for the show. At the time, a museum spokesperson stated that as part of the restructuring, the museum would be "actively reviewing parts of the curatorial calendar."

Nearly two months later, a new exhibition schedule has yet to be announced — leaving a question mark hanging over OCMA's contribution to Pacific Standard Time.

Reached for comment, a museum spokesperson stated via email: "Research for our Getty-funded, Pacific Standard Time project continues."

The Getty Foundation was equally circumspect.

"We are exploring various options and hope to have news about the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition soon," a spokesperson stated.

Cameron, who began research on the project during his time as chief curator, confirmed late last week that he continues to work on the show — titled "Kinesthesia: South American Kinetic and Light Art of the 1960s" — even though he is no longer affiliated with OCMA.

"The research grant that [the Getty] gave for the project is still in effect and I'm using it on planned travel and research in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, and, of course, Paris, where so many of the artists lived after the late 1950s," he stated via email. "I've already met with dozens of experts in the field and seen hundreds of pieces in museums, foundations, banks and private homes. This research will continue until the end of the year."

All of this, naturally, begs the question of where the exhibition will be held. 

In 2017, when the PST: LA/LA shows are slated to open, the leadership at OCMA hopes to be breaking ground on a new building in Costa Mesa. If everything goes according to plan, the museum may very well be in a smaller, temporary building that would likely be unable to accommodate a show of "Kinesthesia's" size and scale. (The exhibition features large-scale installation and room-sized environments.)

Which means that "Kinesthesia" may have to be shown elsewhere. Where that may be — and whether it will remain in Orange County — no one is saying.

The show, however, does appear to be set to go on.

"Right now the Getty has indicated to me that they are committed to my exhibition and they plan for it to have a place," states Cameron.

Regardless of where it happens, "Kinesthesia" promises to tread new ground, featuring more than 80 works by an estimated 20 artists, all pioneers in the area of optical and mechanical art.

"Little is known about the Latin American role in kinetic art," explains Cameron, "despite the fact that Latin American artists were the pioneers in establishing this quintessentially 20th century medium."

Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.

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