Laguna Art Museum’s latest exhibit puts art in black and white

Michael Rey, "Pineapple Grit No. 36 (tete-a-tete)," 2014, at Laguna Art Museum.
(Courtesy of Philip Martin Gallery)
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Black and white are often defined as complete opposites. When a subject is deemed black and white, it is a euphemism for simple, clear cut and uncomplicated. But as Laguna Art Museum’s new exhibit, “Black and White: Contemporary Art from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation” demonstrates, black and white can contain multiplicities.

“The theme of this selection of works is variations on black and white as used by a diverse selection of California artists,” said Billie Milam Weisman, director and president of the Frederick R. Weisman Art and Philanthropic foundations. “Especially in California, the effects of sunlight greatly influence artists in the creation of their work, with black being the absorption of light and white reflecting it.”

The show, which opens on Saturday and will be on display until Oct. 9, contains 30 works that utilize black and white not only in color but also in theme. The pieces also showcase a number of artistic approaches with varied materials and techniques from Southern California-based artists over the past half century.


“Pineapple Grit #36 (tête-à-tête),” 2014, by Michael Rey, for example, uses steel powder-coated in black on a sculpture that is imposing and full of movement. Rey is a Los Angles-based abstract artist known for his works that can be described as a rumination on form. Andy Moses’ “Tale of the Dragon,” 2003, also in the show, utilizes black, white and all manner of grays and browns while demonstrating an innovative style Moses became known for.

Andy Moses, "Tale of the Dragon," 2003 will appear at the Laguna Art Museum.
(Alan Shaffer)

Billie Weisman spent nine years of her husband’s life assisting in selecting art for the Frederick R. Weisman collections. She continues his legacy today and operates an art conservation and consulting business of her own.

“We’re pleased to partner with the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation and Billie Milam Weisman on this special exhibition, showcasing a unique variety of works from modern and contemporary California artists,” said Julie Perlin Lee, executive director of Laguna Art Museum. “The exhibition will celebrate Mr. Weisman’s legacy and passion for the arts, as well as our mission of presenting California art.”

On Saturday, July 9 Laguna Art Museum will host an event called “In Conversation with Billie Weisman.” Beginning at 6 p.m., Weisman and Rochelle Steiner, a Laguna Art Museum’s curatorial fellow, to discuss the selected works and offer their unique insight on the collection.

When it comes to black and white, Weisman contends the two colors are never as simple as they first appear.

“Each of us sees color differently, and while the powerful contrast of a black and white palette creates visual drama, monochromatic works utilizing varying shades of gray or sepia may be more deeply engaging,” Weisman said. “This exhibition features artists who have explored the formal, conceptual and technical possibilities of black and white, monochromatic and ‘in-between’ shades.”

More information and tickets for the July 9 talk can be found at

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