Nearly 50 artists from around California will show off their artwork at a special exhibit that begins at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Orange County Museum of Art near Fashion Island.
"2010 California Biennial" curator Sarah Bancroft said she hopes to give museumgoers an accurate overview of what's being produced in the contemporary art circles across the Golden State — not always an easy task.
Bancroft traversed the state for more than a year in search of some of the finer artists up and down California's coast, eventually whittling them down to a pool of 300, then 150, then the final 45.
Many of them are from San Diego and San Francisco, with few in points in between.
"You never know what to expect until you've actually visited them, sat down with them, talked with them, looked at their art and walked through their field," said Bancroft, who grew up in Tempe, Ariz., but worked at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City before coming to Orange County as a curator two years ago.
The exhibit, which runs until March 13, runs the gamut of avant-garde.
For example, there's Jennifer Locke's video of a woman pouring glue over herself, then peeling it off her nude body, which can be viewed on a video screen in one of the galleries.
Or, just a few rooms away, there's that large, 6-foot high, elaborately designed, wooden earring that's capable of rocking back and forth but never falling down.
It's not often that museumgoers will be able to touch some of the artwork, but in the case of the earring, the concoction of Egyptian-born Sherin Guirguis, Bancroft was happy to announce that playing with it is just fine by Guirguis, who resides in Los Angeles.
Other compelling pieces of work to be found inside the museum, located at 850 San Clemente Drive, are dark, bold drawings of people to light-colored paintings to sculptures and walk-through installations and hundreds of framed photographs.
Then there's Taravat Talepasand, an Iranian-born, San Francisco resident who painted "Censored Garden." It features a woman who's covered from head to toe in a black burqa, the sort of clothing often associated with conservative Muslim factions.
It just so happens, however, that the middle of her body is "pixeled out," Bancroft said.
"This is all about censorship — it's provocative, it pushes back and forth," she said during a sneak preview of the exhibit Thursday. "Taravat has a talent for toying with stereotypes, and you can see it in a lot of her work."
Right next to Talepasand's painting sits an old motorcycle, which she took a brush to in a variety of colors. The exhibit blends retrospective art with the introspective, a juxtaposition coming from a woman made up of two countries and two cultures.
Then there's Glenna Jennings of San Diego, who lived for about a month in the eastern San Diego County mountain desert town of Jacumba, and took some great photographs of the region — including a sandstorm.
The particles of that sand eventually made their way onto the dashboard of her car, which she eventually drove across the Mexican border between San Ysidro and Tijuana.
She recounts the tale underneath a photograph of herself, in which she's fighting off the storm from inside a doorway.
"So thick granules of Jacumba ended up on Manuel's wet rag. He's the guy that always clears up my view at the petrol station outside of Ensenada," she writes, adding in Spanish what Manuel had asked her: "Where did this come from?"
If You Go
What: "2010 California Biennial"
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach
Information: www.ocma.net or (949) 759-1122