Friday, January 25, 2013

Artist Marianela de la Hoz brings a sense of black humor to surreality shows By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt

On the occassion of the new show of Marianela de la Hoz at Noel Baza gallery we are re-posting this article by Lonnie Hewitt first printed in the La Jolla Light. 
Now that it’s fall, here’s something to fall for: two fascinating shows featuring the work of Marianela de la Hoz, a Mexican artist who has been living in North County for the past decade. South of the border, her style might be called “magic realism.” Here, we’d call it “surreal.”
De la Hoz, who uses egg tempera (a labor-intensive medium popular in the Middle Ages) to create striking miniatures, illustrates subjects that might seem familiar to medieval monks. But she puts a 21st-century spin on the ancient themes.

She is currently one of seven artists featured in Mesa College Art Gallery’s eye-popping “Seven Deadly Sins” exhibition, where she has eight, postcard-size pieces on view — one for each sin, and one for the devil, the Seducer who introduced humans to sin. The pieces are wickedly amusing, and wickedly well painted in tiny hairline brushstrokes that invite close attention to the details. They’re a thoughtful response to the message they convey.

In the show’s catalog, De la Hoz confessed to expressing violence through fantasy, black humor, even sarcasm. “My work is based on reality and the paintings confront today’s troubled times,” she wrote. “I am inspired by … the eternal combination of good and bad in everyone, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde within ourselves.”

What her work is really based on is the strict Catholic- schooling of her girlhood.
“The nuns taught me everything was horrible, that all men were sinful, and the only good thing a woman had was her virtue, which men were always trying to take from her,” she said. “Ten years of therapy brought me back to life, and I started painting. Now I’m glad I went to that school, because it gave me my themes.”
When an artist friend told her about egg tempera, it was love at first sight. She learned the basic technique from a how-to book by Renaissance artist Cennino Cennini. She kept reading and practicing and never looked back.

Mesa Gallery Director Alessandra Moctezuma — a direct descendant of the Aztec emperor — has been following De la Hoz’s work for years. “She taught herself how to work like the Old Masters, mixing pure powder pigments with egg yolk. This isn’t something that’s taught in schools. It’s very time-consuming and expensive. But Marianela’s pieces are so refined.”

The recent heatwave presented new problems, with the temperature soaring so high that the egg yolks cooked. De la Hoz had to add a more modern ingredient — ice cubes — as she put the finishing touches on “Heaven and Earth,” the altarpiece for her solo show at San Diego Museum of Art that will go on display Oct. 13, in conjunction with a 15th- century “Madonna and Child” by Carlo Crivelli. “Heaven and Earth,”
which took the artist a year of 10-hour days and 7-day weeks to complete, is made up of 11 paintings — 10 smallish ones surrounding a four-foot-tall centerpiece she calls “the biggest miniature I’ve ever painted.”
It portrays a very modern Eve, surrounded by life choices — the seven sins again, and their equally sinful opposites: Pride and Self- Hatred; Wrath and Masochism; Greed and Superficial Charity; Envy and Idolatry; Gluttony and Anorexia; Lust and Repression; Sloth and Hyperactivity.

It is full of delightfully irreverent Marianelisms: God resting from creation in a hammock while Eve and Lilith (her dark side) feed Adam an apple; then the apple transmuted into apple pie, food for judgmental friars. And the baby on Mother Eve’s belly is the artist’s grandson, reaching out to the baby Jesus in Crivelli’s “Madonna and Child.”
There’s an apple in the Crivelli painting, too. But, De la Hoz pointed out, “when an apple appears with the Virgin, it represents hope. In fact, Mary is called ‘The New Eve.’ ”
She included a hopeful image of her own in “Heaven and Earth” — a heart and a brain, on a golden scale. “I’m always looking for balance, the Golden Mean, in my life and my paintings,” she said.

Joyce Cutler-Shaw’s art and Lois Stecker auction at La Jolla’s Athenaeum

What Comes To Mind: Nature/Human Nature and Visual Translation by Joyce Cutler-Shaw at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library  will be on when the show and auction of the works of Lois Stecker come up for sale on Jan 25 beginning at 8 pm (viewing from Jan 5)  (1008 Wall Street , La Jolla 92037) opens on Jan 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 and runs until Feb 9. For more info: Katie Walders 858.454.5872

I was so impressed with the Joyce Cutler-Shaw's show at the Athenaeum. I had only seem small amounts of her work in group shows and of course, the public art in the Mission Valley Library. But this is a chance to see new exciting works and the older books in the Athenaeum collection as well. Wow, the first thing I saw was the small room, still human size but covered with large scale photo of tree branches and brush. Then a series of 3-D layered photo works. And finally the really exciting brain scan video work. The most likable thing was how these videos still functioned as paintings or low relief sculptures but then they also move like kaleidoscopes. 

Joyce Cutler Shaw - large walk in book
Joyce Cutler Shaw - 3-d layered images

Joyce Cutler Shaw - Being Rose

 I feel very sentimental about this show of Lois Stecker., our beloved and much missed friend of all visual artist in SD. This is a lovely chance to see some of her works but also the works in her private collection. This was an opportunity to obtain a little bit of her to keep her spirit close by.
Lois Secker silent auction sale of her art and her art collection

What Comes to Mind: Joyce Cutler-Shaw’s art exhibit combines nature, science at La Jolla’s Athenaeum by Lonnie Burstein

For the past 40 years, Joyce Cutler-Shaw has been exhibiting her drawings, artist’s books and installations at museums and libraries around the world. The artist, who has called La Jolla home since 1959, is currently showing an impressive selection of her slide-out, large-format and “tunnel” books at La Jolla’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in “What Comes to Mind: Nature-Human Nature and Visual Translation.”
At the Jan. 11, 2013 opening, more than 100 art-lovers gathered to admire the exhibit, which continues from the main gallery into the North Reading Room and includes a 10-foot-tall walk-in book that super-sizes an image from Cutler-Shaw’s original “Garden of Wild Birds and Grasses.”
Another, more permanent, version of this piece is on view at the gateway to Stonecrest Village, a housing development in San Diego, in the form of a pair of steel sculptures expressing the artist’s concern with the interplay of natural landscapes and built environments.
“My subjects are human identity and the natural world,” she wrote in an artist’s statement. “My themes are evolution, survival and transformation: from reptile into bird, from mammal to human, and from human, perhaps, to humane.”
Cutler-Shaw, who is artist-in-residence at UCSD School of Medicine, is fascinated with anatomy, and the exhibit includes a small sample of her “Alphabet of Bones,” a unique calligraphy inspired by her detailed drawings of the leg bones of a messenger pigeon.
But the most captivating works here are four wall-mounted tunnel books, framed by her own brain scans, that invite the viewer to contemplate a loop of videotaped “memory pictures” within; it’s the artist’s way of showing how the brain accumulates images from the past, becoming a storehouse of personal and cultural memories.
Also on display are “Limbs and Trunks,” three-dimensional drawings underscoring the connections between humans and trees, and “What Shall We Do When the River Runs Dry,” wall-mounted slide-out books that act as a visual meditation on the dwindling supply of our most precious resource, water.
Visitors are encouraged to open drawers and peer into cases to discover some of the artist’s interesting but lower-profile works.
This is not Cutler-Shaw’s first show at the Athenaeum, which has a number of her pieces in its permanent collection and was part of a four-library retrospective of her work in 2003. But it’s a show well worth seeing:
“What Comes to Mind” will give you plenty to marvel at and think about.
IF YOU GO• What: ‘What Comes To Mind: Nature/Human Nature and Visual Translation’ by Joyce Cutler-Shaw
• When: On view 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays to Feb. 9. Closed Sundays, Mondays.
• Where: Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla
• Admission: Free
• Contact: (858) 454-5872

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

William D. Cannon Art Gallery Juried show 2013

2013 Juried Biennial of the William D. Cannon Art Gallery has a number of SDVAN listed artists. Many congratulations to all those who are displays. The  jurors Scott Canty, Director of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall and Director of Exhibitions at the Palos Verdes Art Center, and Chantel Paul, Assistant Curator of the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) (1775 Dove Lane, Carlsbad, CA 92011) More info: Karen McGuire 760.602.2021

Vincent Robles and the opening credit board
In conversation with Scott Canty, director of the Barnsdall Art Gallery, I found a gentleman saddened to reject over 50 works to narrow the choice of this show to a very large 111 art pieces. He seemed torn but knew ultimately that the show would suffer if this space had to hold all the works he and colleague Chantel Paul choose out of the 1200 entries. I imagine the staff was relieved and hanging all these works by 72 different artists (including 35 from North County)  in their space was a testament to their abilities. Seeing old friends was very rewarding with very fine works by Anna Zappoli, Duke Winsor (a seductive pink striped canvas), Cheryl Tall, Irene de Watteville, Irene Abraham, Dan Adams, Reed Cardwell, Paul Henry, Jill Le Croissette, Viviana Lombrozo, Allison Renshaw, Vincent Robles, Deanne Sabeck, Julia San Roman, Betsy Schultz, Neil Shigley

But the most interesting thing about the show was how many artists we did not know or know very well. We were especially pleased to discover a few excellent photographers and 54 artists never shown before at the Cannon Gallery 

We also include news of a few other exhibitions visited this month including:

Please enjoy this preview of the Cannon show and go and see all 100 works at the show itself.

Haesun Lee

John Chweku (very close detail of tiny ceramic work)

Linda Kardoff - Juror's choice

Michael Chapman

Elizabeth Washburn - this work is luminous in person

Valya was a Juror's choice and the small portrait is silk painting on mirror. The Large Apron image also have a detail image of the hand work included

Alexia Markarian - the fringe on this is cuts $'s

Bronie Crosby - a large oil painting

Two close ups of photos by
Catherin Colaw. I am sorry about the shadow of my camera on this one

Catherin Colaw- Juror's choice
Charles Snowdon

Catherine Ruane - Juror's choice

Dan Adams

Cheryl Tall

Deanne Sabeck

John Henry

Neil Shigley

Viviana Lombrozo and Michael Di Pietro
Allison Renshaw

Anna Zappoli

Jill Le Croisette

Julia San Roman

Reed Caldwell

Irene Abraham

Two of the Cannon Show artist are also in the following show:

Multiplicity: 7 Women, Sophia Daly, Sonya Devien, Nikki Moore, Robin Sanford Roberts, Kathryn Schmiedeberg, Betsy Schulz and Irene de Watteville. showing until Feb 15 at Solana Beach City Hall Gallery (635 South Highway 101, Solana Beach) is a repeat of the show with variation that was shown downtown in the summer. Lucky North County to get to see this work by a lively group of ladies.  More info: Anita Edman

Betsy Schultz
Irene de Watteville

Walter Wojtyla: Then and Now until Feb 23 at  Meyer Fine Art (2400 Kettner Blvd. Suite 104, SD 92101) consists of artwork from the 1950s to newly created pieces. No surprises but a great introduction to the work of this artists for new collectors.   More info: Perry L. Meyer  

Walter Wojtyla, late work, Kathi in the Bath
Walter Wojtyla, early work

Kira Carrillo Corser: Mystery and Metaphor showing through March 31 at  Hera Hub (9710 Scranton Road, #160, SD 92121). The fish floating above the majestic architecture of the NTC Art Foundation at Point Loma is not so much a reminder  of the perils of over fishing as it appears to be a huge fish tank with Liberty Station as the little environment specially constructed for one lucky fish.  More info: Felena Hanson

Kira Corser "Fish Dance a Fragile World"

Natural World Inspiration at Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation Visitors Center Art Gallery (One Father Junipero Serra Trail, SD 92119 showing until Feb 8. More info: Vicky DeLong

Sue Breet

SoulCollage from California Center for Creative Renewal are interlacing of imagery to access inner states and archetypes, created by Ellen Speert and 10 other artists showing until Feb 4 at First Street Gallery (820 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, 92024) Come test your own reactions to these visual test and compare them to the titles given by the artists.  More info:  Ellen Speert  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Corporate Collecting Book Review

Corporate Art Collections  by Charlotte Appleyard and James Salzmann
Lund Humphries/Ashgate Publishing Group in association with Sotheby’s Institute of Art

In the past, art was commissioned to support a religion or a cultural paradigm, but corporations can not be seen to do that. They generally avoid nudity, religious and political subjects. A stodgy law firm might have a few hunting prints in the waiting room and some portraits of the founder in the board room. But in 1960 companies were ready to step it up.  The Whitney Museum in New York held a unique show Business Buys American Art. Corporations bought art to use in their advertising campaigns, color brochures, annual reports, as limited edition gifts to its stockholders and clients, and presented art as awards. Modern art on the walls of their offices gave a view of their company as up to date and even go ahead.

In 2011 there were 900 serious American corporation collections. In China, 5% of the GDP has been promised to go to cultural development by 2016. They see art as a “new pillar of industry.”

How are these collections operated and run and what drives the collection is covered in the insightful book by Appleyard and Salzmann. They looked at what they considered important collections only and recognized that things could and will change, but they define three major areas of corporate collecting.

Curatorial collections that are chosen by one person to enhance the experience of staff and clients are labeled here as “Environmental Enrichment” “Emblematic” collections are those that mainly reflect the identity of the corporation. “Patronage” collections are those that serve the community showing a social responsibility to support the arts. Some of these collections have become galleries separate from the corporation or give an annual art prize. Corporation can also sponsor exhibitions we see in museums.

Collections often have overlapping parts of all three. And they often deal with some of the same issues.

  • The art is there to fill blank places.  The art work has to fit the space although in special cases, the space is made to fit the art.
  • Corporation use advisors, either hired or in special cases, in house, but one person in the corporation is the driving force for acquiring art and helps set the annual budget.
  • The art is expected to be inspiring to the staff and clients and not only bring out their own creativity, but also be an ice breaker for networking occasions. In the best cases, artists are brought in to talk to employees so they can engage and relate to the works. In even rarer cases, the staff is allowed to choose which of the art in the collection is displayed in their own offices.
  • Both public relations in terms of community outreach and publicity for the company are impacted by the art. Both can enhance the corporation’s image and aid in branding. Art can be a point of differentiation between companies and help define its message. Art from emerging countries might be perfect for companies selling bonds from emerging markets or cutting edge art for companies trying to attract the most creative of a young workforce.  
  • Art has to be able to stand up physically and emotionally to the office environment.  The setting is not the same as a museum who supply with the best lighting, temperature control, security and un-interrupted background.
  • Collections do have investment potential and prestige value connected with monetary value. But they represent a tiny percentage of the budget of the company. Most companies declare that their choices are not monetarily driven, only quality drive.
  • Should the collection be private or do they have a duty to make it available to the public with all the expense and worry that involves?
  • If the corporation spend vast sums on the art collection, how is that perceived by the employees and stock holders especially in hard times?

The book is packed with examples that are well presented and fascinating. Each company has a distinct personality formed by many of these criteria and it is fun to read about each and see the illustrations of the actual art work. They use the old fashion way of grouping all the color photos in sections which is too bad, as it would be good to see the art works next to the descriptions. As a visual aid, these are very high quality images by wonderful artists.

To give you a brief idea of some of the nuggets of information that I gleaned:
  • Successful investment is about being able to embrace uncertainty. Cutting edge art embodies that idea.
  • Many employees and visitor turn out to purchase works by the same artist shown in the corporation collection.
  • One company named all of it conference rooms after artists.
  • Corporations that serve the arts have a vested interest in growing a collection. Art insurers, art shippers, art legal services and art accountant.
  • A few corporation have the advantage of being able to produce a product collaboration with actual artists (Like Louis Vuitton handbags with Murakami’s faux Vuitton logo pattern)
  • Cost cutting choices encourage buying local to save on shipping, displaying less expensive works on paper and photographs which is often safer as the work is behind glass or plastic.
  • One now defunct collection allows for a corridor of controversy for those works that were rejected by the staff. Allowing these works to remain was a clever way to create talking points about the work.
  • We need to guard against corporations, which see loans of art as an inexpensive way to decorate.

The book makes mention of the tax laws for what is deductible in term of devaluation and donation and also touches on de-accession. There is a very short section on a few things to consider when starting a collection, but this is not a “how to” book. Maybe that is a pity as we should be trying to encourage more corporate collections. Will, expertise and funding rarely come together, but this book is a showcase for those corporations that have created added value through collecting art. The alternative is blank walls and what does that say about any business?