Saturday, May 9, 2015

100 Artists, 100 Years, SDMA Artists Guild at OMA by Patricia Frischer

100 Artists, 100 Years: The San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild opensSat April. 18 at 6 pm and runs until July 26 at the Oceanside Museum of Art ( 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside, 92054) Exhibition curator Mark-Elliott Lugo states, “… I believe San Diegans will be excited and proud to see the exceptional skill and creativity of the artists who have lived and worked in the area.” More info:Raziah Roushan 760-435-3721

This exhibition does not pretend to be a survey of all the best local art of the last 100 years, but it does showcase the best of the artists who over the years were members of the SDMA Artist Guild. The Guild has a very varied history with lots of ups and downs Dennis Paul Batt started a history of the guild but passed away before it was finished. We understand there is a book now underway by current members of the guild. The selection of works for this show was made very astutely by Mark-Elliot Lugo and it is his eye we have to thank for the quality of the work which is very high. Years of research went into tracking down the artists and getting permission to borrow all these items. Hopefully it will be well documented and this selection will be viewable long after the show comes down. My  selected below are 14% of those on view.

If you go to many, many art exhibitions every year and you can go to a show and can be surprised, then I consider this a success. I was surprised by the quality of work and by the variety and by learning about new artist that I had never heard of before. The fact is that I am constantly surprised by new artists in San Diego. You would think that as someone who coordinated the largest visual arts directory in our county, I would be exposed to almost everything. But that is simply not true. I see new work all the time that is currently being made. But there are few instances that I get to see historical local art. I was impressed with the Plein Air paintings at the New SD History Center, a show put up for the centennial exhibition because the quality was so very high. This show stuck me similarly.

Everett Gee Jackson, Sailor Beware, 1934
This was one of my favorite works in the show because it was so much of the period and also truly represented San Diego and the military presence then and maybe even now. Amazing that it is the sailor that is being warned instead of the Latin women. But it is the color and subtle painting of the sailor collar that entranced me in this work as much as the subject.

Charles Rieiffel, SD Back Country
Having just spent a weekend in Spring Valley at Vineyard Hacienda B&B, this landscape struck home. It is exactly the feeling of lush opulence I experienced in this surprising part of our county. From Rancho San Diego to Tecata, I think we will see a new tourist industry blossom with wineries, restaurants, hotels and even a new casino  along Highway 94. And that will connect people to the Valley to Guadeloupe which already has a large tourist economy in the same manner.  It will be up to us to populate this with visual and performing arts.  

Rex Brandt, Momsy and Popsy, 1940
My student Ashleigh and I both agreed that this 40's sun bathing couple  was a favorite and reminded us both of days on the beach growing up. It is the sweeping lines of the two bodies that draws you into the small composition.

Lenore Simone, Lady of the High Wire 1969
Very delicate almost early Picasso-like composition is charm itself. 

Barney Reid, 1950's
Nothing is more 50's than a mobile of cut shapes and this one makes shadows that triple its dimensions.

Leslie Lee
In photo reproduction this looks like any portrait of a Latino man, but in real life the image glows with life and seems almost to be renaissance in nature. Go just to see this one image and you won't be disappointed with the show. 

Mark Elliot Lugo, Anything Helps 2015
The curator includes his own current work in the show in a daring move to be both artist and arbitrator.

Martha Alf, Red and Black, 1973
Simple but amazing effective. red on red on black

Renata Spiazzi
I have been to Renata's home many times and seen a huge variety of work especially recent digital imagery. But grouping these three relatively early sculptures together was a tour de force by Mark. Together they show how really remarkable this artist has always been.

John Baldesari
The master does not disappoint.

Manny Farber,  Cherries and Fennal, 1996
One of my personal favorites is Manny Farber who passed away before we could give him the SD Art Prize. A giant in the movie critic world, he came into his own in SD with these wonderful happy unusual still lives which are more about color and composition than depictions of a subject. I wish there was an artist who could carry his mantle further and that could be Gail Roberts (below)  if she brought color back to her work.

Gail Roberts, Submerge, 2013
Exquisite combinations of paint as light and dark

Manualita Brown, Verity, 2007
At her best in this small pared down abstraction of the women she know so well.

Ethel Green, Waterbed, 1970
Our own surrealist whose world I am always scared and but pleased to enter.


  1. Patricia, If we were able to surprise an educated eye like yours, imagine my surprise as Historian for the San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild as we discovered gems from the past and the present. Who knew San Diego was such a hot bed of gifted artists! With a committee comprised of Dr. James Grebl, Associate Curator of Research, Archive and Provenance, Martin E. Petersen Curator Emeritus of American Art at SDMA for 40 years, Angelika Villagrana, President of the Artists Guild, Penny Hill, Exhibitions Chair for the National Watercolor Society and Ann Walker, Watercolor artist and historian, we scoured the scattered records for 5 years before coming up with our list of 100. Mark-Elliott Lugo was already on our list of influential artists before he joined our committee late in the process. It is thrilling to walk through 100 years of San Diego history by viewing iconic art and seeing unexpected pieces. Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Congratulation to you and your team of dedicated volunteers. I have only been here for 20 years, so I have a lot of catching up to do. But we are all ready for San Diego to take its rightful place as thriving arts community.