Sunday, September 15, 2013

Nature Improved: Two museums partner for landscape exhibit

'Village' by Michael Field. Courtesy

Oceanside Museum of Art  and The San Diego History Center join for the exhibit Nature Improved: SD Artists Interpret Our Landscape  with 90 works and 28 SD artists until Jan 26 at SDHC and Feb 23 at OMA. More info: Danielle Susalla Deery 858.414.0792.

‘Nature Improved: San Diego Artists Interpret Our Landscape’

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt
First published in the La Jolla Light

  San Diego History Center: Sept. 20-Jan. 26,1649 El Prado, Suite 3, Balboa Park, (619) 232-6203,
Oceanside Museum of Art: Oct. 26- Jan. 26, 704 Pier View Way, downtown Oceanside, (760) 435-3720,

In the world of arts and culture these days, the big word is the “C” word: Collaboration.

With dwindling resources and fierce competition for funding, many organizations have discovered the joys of sharing the costs and rewards of partnership.

Starting this month, San Diego History Center and Oceanside Museum of Art will be presenting their first joint exhibition, “Nature Improved: San Diego Artists Interpret Our Landscape,” opening at SDHC Sept. 20, and OMA Oct. 26. They promise a diversity of perspectives on our region, with each site showing half of some 90 artworks by 26 local artists.

'Howard Street' by Kim Reasor

SDHC, which also operates the Junipero Serra Museum in Presidio Park, was founded in 1928, and is one of the oldest and largest historical organizations in California. Its newest executive director, Charlotte Cagan, is lead coordinator of the landscape exhibit, and sees it as a great step forward in the center’s connection to the community.

“Our mission is to tell the story of San Diego, and an important aspect of that story is artistic activity,” Cagan said. “We chose the subject because we have a significant collection of landscapes from the past 100 years and we wanted to connect them with contemporary works.”

For this invitational, juried show, submissions had to be recognizably inspired by San Diego landscapes, both rural and urban. “It’s a broader definition than what we might consider traditional landscapes, because many contemporary artists find the urban landscape challenging and exhilarating too,” Cagan said.

'Green Surge' by Stuart Burton

There’s a distinguished panel of curators, including Derrick Cartwright, Director of University Galleries and Professor of Art History at USD; Alessandra Moctezuma, Gallery Director and Professor of Fine Art at Mesa College; and Daniel Foster, Executive Director of Oceanside Museum of Art.

The lead curator is art scholar Bram Dijkstra, who curated the recent exhibit of Charles Reiffel’s post-impressionist landscapes, which was a collaboration between SDHC and the San Diego Museum of Art. “There’s a definite connection between that exhibition and this one,” Cagan said. “We get to see how contemporary artists are interpreting some of the same landscapes.”

Labor Day marked Cagan’s second anniversary with the History Center. “It’s flown by in a frenzy of activity,” she noted. And there’s lots more activity in the works.

Next year’s big thing will be “Presidio to Pacific Powerhouse: How the Military Shaped San Diego,” a collaboration between SDHC and eight different military sites, including the Midway, the Aerospace Museum and Camp Pendleton. And in 2015, the Center will be heavily involved in the Balboa Park Centennial.

“We hope to give everyone a sense of the bandwidth of the History Center,” Cagan said. “I believe we are the Smithsonian of San Diego; we have everything here that tells the story of who we are. If you want to connect with our community, past, present, and future, this is the place.”

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