Monday, February 8, 2016

New Exhibitions at OMA: Deanne Sabeck, Robin Bright, Tom Driscoll, Laddie John Dill, Marjorie Nodelman and Bill Rastetter.

By Patricia Frischer

Oceanside Museum of Art has a mega opening of six exhibitions on Feb 6 from 6 to 8 including Deanne Sabeck, Robin Bright, Tom Driscoll , Laddie John Dill, Marjorie Nodelman (curated by Doug Simay), and Bill Rastetter. Although this is the first show under the watch of the new director James Peck, the shows were chosen by Sandra Chanis, the interim director. The shows continue through May, June or even July and so we should expect to see staggered new dates for shows in the future (probably much to the relief of the staff in charge of hanging). We understand exhibitions have been arranged by Ms. Chanis for the entire year to allow Peck to become familiar with the community and set his own direction.

In five of the six exhibition, one can see the formation of a life long set of visual languages. With Marjorie Nodelman, Robin Bright and Tom Driscoll  the exhibitions appear as retrospectives. Deanne Sabeck and Laddie John Dill give us a partial glimpse of of much larger body of work. Bill Rasstetter is just beginning to develop his photographic iconography.  

Marjorie Nodelman curated by Doug Simay
Curators statement:

"Marjorie Nodelman (1950-2014) was a highly educated, high energy artist who helped define contemporary art-making in San Diego in the 1980s and early 90s.  I met her in her downtown San Diego studio in 1979 as I was just beginning to collect art and just learning how to interact with artists.  Spending time with and learning from Marjorie formed a foundation for my subsequent decades-long involvement with artists. In similar fashion, Marjorie influenced many others around her.  In this exhibition the tale of Marjorie Nodelman’s artistic career in San Diego is told by her friends and husbands.

Accompanying the artworks are snippets of her story as told by those who she touched.  One can read (perhaps all of) the wall text and in a non-linear fashion learn why many of us consider Marjorie Nodelman to be an exemplary artist and of great importance in San Diego’s art history."

This is a link to the entire text of the show. with writing by Bob Niedringhaus,Tershia d’Elgin, Elvi Olesen, Scott Olesen, Sheldon Nodelman, John Herschel, Mark Elliott Lugo, Ellen Phelan, Ellen Irvine, and John Durant.

I was blown away by this show of work by an artist that I knew so little about.  I think that might be because Ms. Nodelman choose to slow down after a large commission fell through and retrained herself as a social worker aiding prisoner, moving to LA before I arrived in SD. The first impression of this show is to immediately draw you in with the many shaped canvases mainly circular. As Doug Simay described, he treated  those like "bubbles of champagne" to delight the viewer. The works were gathered from collectors like Simay and the estate of the artist who passed away at age 64 in 2014 from a blood disease. When asked who she was, Nodelman replied. "I have been compared to a raisin cookie."  The works speak for themselves.

Portrait of Doug Simay
Photo taken from an angle to show that the hair is painted on the edge of the canvas
Installation view with the very large exceptionally riveting corner work

Nodelman used any medium necessary to communicate her ideas. In these works the material was part of the message.

Deanne Sabeck

Deanne Sabeck works are every bit as politically charged as Nodelman although much more subtle. The glass panels can be moved but what is harder to show in photography is the way the color is created only by light reflection. This gives Sabeck's work a magical aspect. Deanne Sabeck was an emerging artist chosen in 2012  by Jeffery Laudenslager for the SD Art Prize. Sabeck with Laudenslager have a large sculpture in the front of the OMA which is a show stopper so don't miss that on your way in to the museum.

Deanne Sabeck photographed with Laddie John Dill. What you do not see in this photo is the slow drip from the medical saline bag above in the clear container over head which causes a ripple of light. Truly Luminous as its title suggests but also a harbinger of what is out there in the future for us all.  

Laddie John Dill

This is an artist who truly has developed his visual language fully. From his Light Sentences which are finger width color charged rods to elegant visual deceptions of flat surfaces, Dill's work is not linear in nature but instead his works repeats themes of landscape, topography, geology over time.  We know the robust wall "paintings" made from concrete and glass and metal which are a result of massive amounts of experimentation with materials. Those abstract works replicate bluffs, eddies, fields, dunes with views from 5000 feet to a few millimeters. The two series he is showing at OMA are almost playful in contrast. I would like to have a dress made out of the effects he achieves on the metal pieces and wear it to roam around the sand cities of his imagination. We are lucky that Dill has a soft spot in his heart for small museums. 

The surface of the metal has been worked to create illusions of depth.

Neon light rods buried in sand dunes are set in a dark room for maximum effect. These works date back to 1971 but appear timeless as they reference a future world landscape. 

Robin Bright 

Although Robin Bright and Tom Driscoll have been paired together and have one title, this is really two completely separate exhibitions. And that is a good thing as one needs to use all of one's attention to "read" the works of Robin Bright. Plan to spend a good deal of time in this part of the display as the works only reveal themselves with an effort on the part of the viewer. But this is not a conceit by the artist, it is just a genuine display of the way his brain is wired. Sometimes you think that Bright just notices things you do not see and makes art of them to draw attention to them. You are left wondering how much has he manipulated the works and how much of the gesture is natural. He is in the work and removed from it like a ghost. This is the largest display of his work that I have seen to date and is not to be missed. Bright is one of the treasures of San Diego.

Tom Driscoll

Driscoll is an artist that allows us to go along with him as he has fun playing with materials. He finds appealing shapes and knows how to cast them and edit them to make sure that we see the best of the best. This is a playpen of a show and we are tickled to be invited to the party. His cast resin works with buried treasure are my favorites, but he surprised me with the large corner cut circle, an elegant work, quiet and commanding. Driscoll has a lot more to tell us and I will continue to follow his progress with great interest. I hope to see a massive display of these works with room to breath in the future. Tom Driscoll was an emerging artist chosen in 2009  by William Allen Morris for the SD Art Prize.

Bill Rastetter

Bill Rastetter, although not a young man is an emerging artist just beginning to develop his body of works from about 2009. These mash ups on display at OMA remind me in some ways of the works of Gilbert and George  iconic international English artists with their graphic anti- establishment art. Rastetter is not making that kind of political statement, but similarly, his graphic sensibilities are the backbone of the appeal of these almost poster like compositions. The slick finish, brilliant color and clever choice of combinations is all there,  but we have not as yet   determined the intent of the artist. This is the beginning of the journey for Rasstetter who bears watching. 


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