ART : Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Art

<i> Zan Dubin is a Times staff writer who writes about the arts for The Times Orange County Edition. </i>

“Some artists would say, ‘How tacky (to exhibit art) in a mall,’ ” says Sono Osato, “but I feel the exact opposite. I think it’s an exquisite way to deal with it.”

Osato, an Oakland conceptual artist, is referring to South Coast Plaza, where her latest installation goes on view Friday at the Laguna Art Museum’s satellite site. She likes the idea of art in unconventional venues because she dislikes the idea that it should be kept apart from everyday life.

“Some of the old definitions of art facilitate a world view that everything is separated and compartmentalized and filed away,” she said. “I believe that there’s sort of an interconnection among things. Art can be all around us, instead of tucked away in designated spaces.”


Osato, who has the same name as her aunt, a well-known ballerina with the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo in the 1920s and early 1930s, said shortly before erecting her installation that ideas about interconnection will be embodied by the work itself, not just where it’s placed.

First, she’ll shape paintings made of a dark, thickly textured mix of oil paint, wax, asphalt and other materials into a sculptural construction, thus “crossing the boundary” between painting and sculpture. She sees no difference between the two art forms, she said, but perceives them, and other disciplines including poetry, as a single, inseparable entity.

Second, she will create a “complete environment that people will walk through,” instead of a less-sensually stimulating object perceived only through the eye and the mind.

“Rather than being a strictly cerebral experience, viewers will have to touch it and be inside it and move around it, so it will affect their body and all the senses,” she said.

Third, the installation is meant to prompt observers to look beyond its face value and form their own interpretations and associations, Osato said.

“It makes you think of other things; for example, you could be inside of a cave,” she said. “A lot of my work is about constructing new ways to perceive things.”

What: An untitled installation by Sono Osato.

When: Friday, Aug. 16, through Nov. 17. Hours are weekdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Laguna Art Museum, South Coast Plaza satellite, 3333 Bristol St., Suite 1000, Costa Mesa.

Whereabouts: San Diego (405) Freeway to the Bristol Street exit, north to South Coast Plaza. The gallery is near the mall’s Carousel Court.

Wherewithal: Admission is free.

Where to Call: (714) 662-3366.