A Look Ahead: Art venues have cooked up som tempting exhibitions. : 1995: A Look Ahead : After Long Dry Spell, a Wellspring of Offerings
And now: the good news. After two lean years of year-ahead surveys, this one is fat and happy. Not only has the Newport Harbor Art Museum announced its schedule in advance (for the past two years, it has stalled, pending secure funding for planned shows), but just about all the major venues have cooked up at least one or two particularly tempting exhibitions.
Although the subjects of these shows are all over the map, urgent issues of personal and cultural identity loom large in at least 10 exhibitions, including “Ciphers of Identity” at the UC Irvine Fine Arts Gallery; “Issues of Empire” at Chapman University’s Guggenheim Gallery; “Vested Power: Icons of Domination and Transcendence” at Cal State Fullerton; “Masculine Masquerade: Masculinity and Representation” at Newport Harbor, and “Scientia Sexualis: The Truth of Sex” at Saddleback College.
For some reason, straightforward historical shows are fairly scanty this year. (They include Tonalist paintings at the Laguna Art Museum; objects from Panama before the Spanish conquest, at the Bowers Museum, and Greek artifacts at Orange Coast College.)
Once again, major surveys of a single artist’s work are equally rare, though the two that have been announced sound promising: a long-awaited retrospective of Southern California painter Llyn Foulkes, at the Laguna Art Museum, and a survey of work by German anti-illusionist photographer Jochen Gerz at Newport Harbor.
Unclassifiable art treats in store range from a survey of African art influences on Western artists (“Western Artists/African Art” at Newport Harbor) to an aromatic look at the history of coffee, at the Fullerton Museum Center.
The Laguna Art Museum seems to have a hammerlock on the summer fun zone, what with its tattoo lore blowout “Eye Tattooed America,” though the Muckenthaler Cultural Center gets its dibs in with a survey of comic book illustrators from the 1970s.
Scheduled to open at last in late March, after four years of delays because of fund-raising and construction difficulties, the Huntington Beach Art Center should add a welcome community-based yet cutting-edge perspective to South County. Two key staff members come on board this month--curator Marylu Knode (formerly at Newport Harbor) and education coordinator Tyler Stallings--an artist and writer from Los Angeles.
Institutional changes will include the selection of the Laguna Art Museum’s new director (expected later this month) and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art’s move (tentatively planned for summer or early fall) to a 6,300-square-Hfoot building in downtown Santa Ana. The new site will be nearly five times as large as OCCCA’s current small office-cum-gallery in Santa Ana’s Harbor Business Park. Fortunately, the renovation and seismic reinforcement of its new home in the Parker Garage Building is funded by a HUD grant, not by monies entrusted to Robert L. Citron.
Of course, no matter how promising the exhibition roster looks on paper, it is unlikely that every good intention will pan out in the gallery. No doubt those of you who disagree with this column’s assessment will keep those cards and letters coming.
10 Best Bets
In chronological order:
* “Ciphers of Identity” (UC Irvine Fine Arts Gallery, Jan. 10-Feb. 4): Curated by cultural historian and art critic Maurice Berger for the University of Maryland, this group exhibition addresses the role of the artist in contemporary culture and the relationship between individual and societal concerns. Artists include Barbara Kruger, Fred Wilson, Deborah Kass, Adrian Piper and Luz Bacher.
* “Jochen Gerz: People Speak” (Newport Harbor Art Museum, Jan. 13-March 19): installations, videos and photo-text works from the past two decades by a German conceptual photographer dealing with issues of absence and memory in a fragmented society. Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery.
* “Issues of Empire” (Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, Feb. 6-March 8): work by artists dealing with cultural imperialism, including Alfredo Jaar, Deborah Small, Jean Lowe, Connie Samaras and Kim MacConnell. Curated by Richard Turner, gallery director.
* “The Greek Legacy” (Orange Coast College Art Gallery, March 6-April 13): Greek-born gallery director Irini Vallera-Rickerson assembles textiles, costumes, furniture, icons and other materials made in the Greek islands during the past two centuries.
* “Vested Power: Icons of Domination and Transcendence” (Cal State Fullerton Main Art Gallery, April 9-May 14): Curated by graduate student Meg Linton, this is the first exhibition to examine the way contemporary artists are using the image of the pointed hood and conical cap--long associated with wizards, dunces and penitents--to address social, psychological and political issues.
* “Pervert” (UC Irvine Fine Arts Gallery, April 11-May 6): Understood as a noun or a verb, the show’s title calls attention to the work of artists whose work underlines their alienation from mainstream culture, whether wholly or partially due to their sexuality. Curated by Catherine Lord, gallery director.
* “Masculine Masquerade: Masculinity and Representation” (Newport Harbor Art Museum, April 21-June 18): work by artists who explore masculinity as a social phenomenon and a personal narrative. Artists include Matthew Barney, Clegg & Guttmann, Charles Ray and Mary Kelly. Organized by the List Visual Arts Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
* “Twilight and Reverie: California Tonalist Paintings, 1890-1930" (Laguna Art Museum, June 22-Oct. 8): Inspired by the mist-shrouded Northern California coast, the Tonalists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries painted with muted colors and softened lines to evoke states of moody introspection. Organized by the Oakland Museum.
* “Eye Tattooed America” (Laguna Art Museum main site and South Coast Plaza mall annex, July 29-Oct. 8): the history of the tattoo from its origins in Africa to the current Western popularity of body decoration. Curated by tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy with the Ann Nathan Gallery, Chicago; coordinating curator is Susan Anderson, the museum’s acting director.
* “Llyn Foulkes: Between a Rock and a Hard Place” (Laguna Art Museum, Oct 27-Jan. 21, 1996): paintings and assemblages by the idiosyncratic Southern California artist. Organized by Marylu Knode, curator of the Huntington Beach Art Center.
Contemporary Issues, Social and Personal
* “Corey Stein: The I-5 Artist” (Laguna Art Museum, South Coast Plaza mall annex, Jan. 6-April 2): an installation about an unlikely combination of subjects (disabilities, truck driving and agricultural work) by a maverick Los Angeles artist.
* “Scientia Sexualis: The Truth of Sex” (Saddleback College Art Gallery, Jan. 12-Feb. 24): a group show examining sexuality in the context of knowledge and power.
* “You Are Here” (Cal State Fullerton Main Art Gallery, Feb. 5-March 12): an installation by Daniel Wheeler that will combine video technology with what the artist calls “primitive/modern” architecture, turning the viewer into both a spectator and a performer.
* Work by Los Angeles artist Kim Abeles will be part of a three-person show also including OCCCA affiliate artists Karena Massengill and Connie Sasso (Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Feb. 8-March 10).
* Self-portraits by Japanese photographer Hiro Sato, who explores the shaman’s role (Orange Coast College Photo Gallery, Feb. 14-March 13).
* “Lezley Saar and Deborah Small--Interstices: Women Re-Visioning”) (Saddleback College Art Gallery, March 2-April 7): assemblage and installation works by two artists exploring ideas about identity and representation.
* “Chicano Printmaking: The Role of Self-Help Graphics” (Laguna Art Museum, March 11-June 18): contemporary silk-screened prints drawn from the museum’s sizable collection of graphic art made at the well-known East Los Angeles workshop.
* “Canvas Compromised” (Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, March 16-April 20): paintings on unusual materials (upholstery, wallpaper), paintings resembling patterned cloth, and paintings with collaged objects, by such artists as Kim Dingle, Steve Hurd, M.A. Peers, Jose Gabriel Fernandez and Stephen Seemayer.
* “Community Properties” (Huntington Beach Art Center, March 24-TBA): an exploration of geographic, economic, racial and cultural notions of community. Curated by Dan R. Talley, special project director at the Forum Gallery, Jamestown, N.Y.
* “Ornamental Subjects” (Fullerton College Art Gallery, March 29-April 21): large paintings by Doris Bittar dealing with aspects of Iraqi culture and 19th-Century Western art.
* “Behind the Orange Curtain” (Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Oct. 7-Dec. 31): a survey of artists working in Orange County, curated by Sarah Bain Gallery director Sally Waranch.
Roaming the Planet
* “River of Gold: Pre-Columbian Treasures from Sitio Conte” (Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, Jan. 22-April 2): gold objects excavated at a site in modern-day Panama.
* “Modern European Prints” (Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Jan. 24-Feb. 26): work by Max Beckman, Georges Braque, Kathe Kollwitz, Fernand Leger, Pablo Picasso and others, loaned by the Arkansas Art Center.
* “Between Empires: The Artistic Legacy of Prehispanic Panama” (Bowers Museum, Feb. 5-Aug. 20): ceramic and gold objects from public and private collections in the United States.
* “Textiles from Vanishing Cultures” (Fullerton Museum Center, March 11-April 30): documentation of a traditional craft, with 40 woven pieces made by peoples of the Middle East, north Africa, North America and Central Asia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Organized by Valerie Justin for Landau/Traveling Exhibitions.
* “Impressions in Tin: Mexican Tin Works” (Muckenthaler Cultural Center, April 25-June 18): devotional and decorative art and toys made from discarded cans, buckets and cups.
* “Western Artists/African Art” (Newport Harbor Art Museum, July 1-Sept. 10): African objects owned by 26 American artists--including Jasper Johns, Martin Puryear and Eric Fischl--who analyze the influence of African form on contemporary Western art. Organized by the Museum for African Art, New York.
* “Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Pamela R. Lessing Friedman Collection” (Bowers Museum, July 2-Sept. 24): tiny ornamental bottles made in the Ching dynasty (1644-1912), from a major U.S. collection.
* “Visions of Guadalupe: Treasures of the Basilica of Guadalupe” (Bowers Museum, Sept. 10-Dec. 31): paintings, chalices and vestments from the religious shrine in Mexico City dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
* “Paintings from Paradise: California Impressionism From the Collection of the Laguna Art Museum” (Laguna Art Museum, Feb. 24-June 18): back from a national tour, for viewers who just can’t get enough of Edgar Payne, Anna Hills, William Wendt and the rest of the gang.
* “From Dancing Goats to Voltaire’s Notes: Coffee’s Historical, Political and Social Impact” (Fullerton Museum Center, July 15-Aug. 27): includes a historical collection of coffee gadgetry, historical and commercial prints, and vintage TV commercials.
Art and the Performing Arts
* “David Hockney: The Magic Flute” (Newport Harbor Art Museum, Jan. 14-March 26): drawings and watercolors by the artist for the Mozart opera, presented concurrently by Opera Pacific at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.
* “The Neo-Humanists and Their Circle” (Severin Wunderman Museum, May 15-Aug. 31): work by Pavel Tchelitchew, Christian Berard, Eugene Berman and several other Neo-Romantic artists noted for their stage designs, who turned their back on abstraction in the mid-1920s.
* “The Style of Jean Cocteau: A Retrospective Exhibition” (Severin Wunderman Museum, Sept. 10-Dec. 29): marking the museum’s first decade, a selection of works by artists associated with the ballet and theater circles animated by Cocteau’s worldly outlook, including Leon Bakst, Cecil Beaton, Alexandre Benois, Salvador Dali, Marie Laurencin, Pablo Picasso, Malvina Hoffman and Beatrice Wood.
* “20th Annual Florence Arnold Young Artist Festival” (Muckenthaler Cultural Center, March 19-April 2): art by students in Fullerton’s public and private schools.
* “White House News Photographers’ Assn. Annual Awards Exhibition” (Fullerton Museum Center, May 13-June 25): award-winning photographs and videos accompanying news and feature stories. Organized by the Library of Congress in cooperation with the White House News Photographers Assn.
* “Major Art/ Minor Artists” (Newport Harbor Art Museum, June 2-July 2): the annual show of projects by elementary students in Santa Ana’s “Special Studio” program and “Partners,” the museum’s education program.
* “KAPOW: A Showcase of Superheroes” (Muckenthaler Cultural Center, July 8-Sept. 3): more than 60 drawings by Neal Adams, Howard Chaykin, Gil Kane and other comic book artists who flourished in the 1970s and early ‘80s.
* “Whirligigs & Weather Vanes: Contemporary Sculpture” (Fullerton Museum Center, Sept. 9-Oct. 22): historical, humorous and political images that spin and jiggle, crafted by 23 folk artists. Organized by the Salem Art Association/Bush Barn Center of Salem, Ore., and Visual Art Resources, Eugene, Ore.
* “Touchable Sculptures” (Fullerton Museum Center, Dec 16-Feb. 18): life-cast sculptures of famous people by Willa Shalit and Dean Ericson. Accessible for all, including visually impaired viewers and wheelchair users. Organized by the Touch Foundation Inc.
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* Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana. (714) 567-3600.
* Cal State Fullerton Main Art Gallery, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton. (714) 773-3262.
* Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, 333 N. Glassell St., Orange. (714) 997-6729.
* Fullerton College Art Gallery, 321 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton. (714) 992-7317.
* Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave., Fullerton. (714) 738-6545.
* Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St., Huntington Beach. (714) 536-5258.
* Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach. (714) 494-8971.
* Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton. (714) 738-6595.
* Newport Harbor Art Museum, 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach. (714) 759-1122.
* Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, 3621 W. MacArthur Blvd., Space 111, Santa Ana. (714) 549-4989.
* Orange Coast College Art Gallery and Photo Gallery, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa. Art Gallery: (714) 432-5039. Photo Gallery: (714) 432-5629.
* Saddleback College Art Gallery, 2800 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo. (714) 582-4924.
* Severin Wunderman Museum, 3 Mason, Irvine. (714) 472-1138.
* UC Irvine Fine Arts Gallery, Fine Arts Village (off Bridge Road), Irvine. (714) 824-6610.