Focus on Bay Area Figurative Movement

A major show of works by 10 Bay Area artists who between 1950-1965 consciously turned away from the prevailing Abstract Expressionist style of the period, opens Thursday at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

“Bay Area Figurative Art, 1950-1965" features 90 paintings, sculptures and drawings which focus on figurative subject matter and respond to distinct attributes of the Bay Area locale, including light and saturated color. Although the artists represented in the show were once reluctant to call their return to the figure a “movement,” it was soon labeled as such by other artists, critics and the general public.

Billed as the most in-depth evaluation of the movement since a 1957 Oakland Art Museum (now the Oakland Museum) show that gave the movement its name and critical focus, “Bay Area Figurative Art” includes works by artists such as David Park, who in 1951 was one of San Francisco’s most respected Abstract Expressionists painters. Park then shocked the local art community by submitting a small figurative painting to a competition, and winning a prize. Soon other Bay Area artists turned to representational painting, and prompted what eventually grew to be one of the most salient postwar movements on the West Coast.

The artists included in the exhibition, which is on view through Feb. 4., are Park, Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, Theophilus Brown, Richard Diebenkorn, Bruce McGaw, Manuel Neri, Nathan Oliveira, James Weeks and Paul Wonder. Featured are such noted works as Park’s pivotal early painting “Kids on Bikes,” Bischoff’s “Orange Sweater,” and Diebenkorn’s “Woman on Porch.”

CALL FOR ENTRIES: The Los Angeles Arts Council is seeking applicants for five programs designed for L.A. artists who are unrepresented by commercial galleries. Intended to provide venues for locally produced art, the programs are the annual art auction “Catch a Rising Artist,” which is planned this year for late May; “Sculpture Walk,” in which outdoor sculpture is installed in heavily trafficked areas; “L.A. People/L.A. Women,” an exhibition of works by culturally diverse women artists slated for the spring of 1990; “Gallery/Public Use Space,” an 1,850-square-foot exhibition site in the Century City Shopping Center; and “Art-in-Business Spaces,” in which art is placed in and near Los Angeles businesses. The council accepts applications for the programs on an ongoing basis. To be considered, artists must submit a resume and a minimum of ten slides of their work, along with information about the media, dimensions and price of the works. For more information, call Kira Lynn Harris at (213) 552-3539). . . . The Long Beach Art Assn. Gallery is requesting entries of sculpture from living artists for an upcoming juried show. Prizes totaling $950 will be awarded. Entry fees are $5 per piece for members and $10 per piece for non members. The show will be juried by slides, and up to three slides may be sent in per work. The slide deadline is Jan. 3. Phone (213) 438-4362 for more information.


NOTES: Enrollment begins Monday for the J. Paul Getty Museum’s “Introduction to the History of Gardens,” a three-session course on the history of gardens in western Europe between the Roman period and 1700. The class, which will be taught by museum lecturer Ann Friedman, will be held from 2-4:30 p.m. on Jan. 16, 23 and 30. For more information, or to enroll, call (213) 459-7611, Ext. 300. . . . A new cable television show for artists to promote and sell their works has begun weekly airings on Century Cable. The show’s producer, video artist Keith Kurlander, said “The Art Network,” will “provide an outlet for artists who are at that level just before they hit the galleries.” The program airs Sundays at 5:30 p.m. on the Los Angeles cable network’s Channel 20 (Channel 10 in Marina del Rey and West Hollywood). For information, call Kurlander at (213) 461-7568). . . . The La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art has received a $100,000 grant from the Russell Foundation. According to museum director Hugh M. Davies, the grant will be used to purchase additions to the museum’s permanent collection, including a work by prominent British conceptual artist Richard Long and two works by internationally recognized California artist James Turrell. The La Jolla-based Russell Foundation has also awarded $150,000 to UC San Diego--$100,000 to commission a permanent on-campus sculpture by American artist Jenny Holzer and another $50,000 for the visual art department to install a studio for visiting artists.