Monday, December 26, 2011

A+ Art Blog: Is La Jolla coming back as a center for the visual arts in San Diego?

La Jolla is known as an upscale shopping community with lots of sales art galleries, but not that much art street cred. I had high hopes when I planned my recent trip there to see three new galleries. I was most impressed with the beautiful white Scott White space showing Ross Bleckner. On Jan 14th there will be a community "art walk" in La Jolla and Scott White Contemporary Art will unveil the gallery's second show in this new location having moved from Little Italy. Stranger Than Paradise is a retrospective of photographs by Stefanie Schneider that have been hand-picked by White himself. Although her work has been showcased in collections and museums around the world, this is Schneider's 1st solo show in San Diego. You can also still see the William Glen Crooks exhibition.
Thumbprint Gallery does not have street level windows and neither it nor Alexander Salazar Fine Art were open for business on the day I visited. Neither appeared to show work different from their other gallery spaces in North Park and downtown. But both will be open in the evening on Jan 14. ASFA (6-9 pm) will show paintings by Erik Skoldberg from San Diego and sculptures by Kevin Barrett from New York. Thumbprint (5-10 pm) invented Works of Wisdom, works by an eclectic mix of artists using famous quotes as their stimulus.
I used this opportunity to drop into Quint Contemporary to see the stunning minimal back painted glass works by Thór Vigfússon. These works do not read in photographs but have such a quiet power. Also close by is RB Stevenson and I discovered the work of John Rogers, which blew me away. This local professor at San Diego State is another hidden SD treasure. The show at the end of December was sparse because many of the works were sold, but that made the space ever more open and elegant.
The Kathleen Marshall: Still in Paris gouache paintings at the Athenaeum Art and Music Library were almost photographic the technique was so perfect but it was the way that they drew you into the scene and made you believe, for the moment at least, that you could be living in one of these rooms and about to step into the sun dappled garden that is their true charm.

I visited The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to see the Phenomenal: California Light Space and Surface. I knew the works of most of these artists and was surprised to be most taken with the completely black room by Eric Orr called Zero Mass. I entered the room with trepidation and left after a few minutes. But something prompted me to ask a guard if I had missed anything. He kindly took me back into the room and gave me the confidence to stay long enough for my eyes to become accustomed to the very low light. The room was not a deprivation experience but an experiment in light and space after all.
Do I think that La Jolla is coming back as a center for the visual arts in San Diego? No, three new gallery spaces will not make that much difference. What I do think we are seeing is the re-bounding of the international art market being reflected in these galleries’ quest for a bit of that succulent pie. I hope that Thumbprint and Salazar have not put more on their plates than they can digest as I sincerely wish that they will succeed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Full roster at OMA

Oceanside Museum of Art has a full roster of shows right now. You are greeted by 4 huge window creatures with marvelous colors that are repeated in the new striped wall of the foyer which is showing We Can Work It Out: Becky Guttin until Jan 29. The large red carpet which proclaims, “my house is my house” is a theme continued in the large mobile of little wood outlined houses that Guttin has become known for. It is a wonderful way to convert the space into a joyful and welcoming entry.

Turn to the left and for a further riot of color in the show It's Not My Fault: The Art of Everett Peck until Feb 12. Everett Peck who is now in his sixties took up painting just a decade ago after a full life as the creator of Duckman. You will see a reproduction of his workspace and the fantasy dining room table with fully painted furniture and displaying a charming miniature burning log cabin with stone chimney complete with flames. This cartoonist is starting to make some seriously good paintings on view here for the first time.

I was very taken by the show Vantage Point: UCSD Visual Dialogues until Jan 15 because the attempt was to show the establish artists who are faculty member with their selection of emerging artists students. This is a formula that has worked so well for the SD Art Prize and which I would like to see taken up more often. Putting the works in the context of each other was ultimately the most successfully with the collaborative work by Brian Zimmerman and his professor. Anya Gallaccio. The precarious setting of her boulder on his delicate wooden structure was intriguing with so many possible interpretations (for example: her female strength and his male frailty, her lofty and mature ideas and his growing ambition). Marvelous to see this video presentation by Louis Hock with its frosted rectangle moving mysteriously about desert and sea scapes with just a hint of something not quite identifiable and always reminding us of the hand of the artist. Hock has a site specific video cinemural for the Pacific Standard Time Exhibition at the Getty Center in LA right now. The student’s work left me a bit baffled with a very expensive presentation but somehow lacking the punch of holograms that it is depicting. Alida Cervantes shows with Ruben Ortiz-Torres and threatens to overcome the master in this particular painterly figurative style. Her work has developed wonderfully over the years since she was an emerging artist in one of our New Contemporaries exhibitions and now reminds me of Paula Rego, a wonderful Portuguese artist now living in London. It is always a joy to see new works by Ernest Silva and these don’t disappoint. They have his recognizable style but they are more complicated, which is so hard to achieve and still maintain their direct simple charm. The relationship to his student Chris Kardambikis is vague but Kardambikis’ work is a nice distillation of a landscape on newsprint.

Also on view is Parallel Visions: Transitional Youth Academy until Dec 18 and A Matter of Space: Cathy Breslaw showing at the Parker Gallery until Jan 5. (watch the video of her gallery talk.)TheWilliam Glen Crooks exibition begins in mid-December.