Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Reimagining Ancient Objects and Future Possibilities on the Trails at Lux Art Institute


By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt. Photos by Maurice Hewitt.

Photos: We’ve looked at Beatriz Cortez’s sculpture GLACIAL ERRATIC from all sides now, accompanied by Lux Education Director Claudia Cano. Here you can too.  

If you’re ready for a real-live art-and-nature experience, there’s no better place to go these days than Lux Art Institute in Encinitas, where a half-dozen visiting artists will be transforming the five-acre hillside landscape with new works inspired by ancient ones in an extraordinary collaborative exhibition called [Glyph]. It’s an exhibition that will move you, physically and emotionally.

The title references a symbol often carved into stone by ancient Mesoamericans, like the Olmec people who inhabited what is now southern Mexico a few thousand years ago.

The [Glyph] looks like this
 and represents the sacred subterranean snake whose movement was believed to shape the landscape and create mountains, over countless breadths of time and space. And the heart of the exhibition is Los Angeles-based artist/scholar Beatriz Cortez, who was born in El Salvador, migrated to the U.S. in 1989 to escape the brutal civil war, but holds fast to her cultural and spiritual Mesoamerican roots. Last month, she was the Longenecker-Roth Guest Lecturer at UC San Diego, where she will also be artist-in-residence later this year. Links to lecture and report. 

Cortez is dedicated to reclaiming the power of ancient sacred objects, which, if we value and respect them, have much to teach us. She offers new ways of looking at time and space, the idea that past generations can be a living part of our lives, that not only people but snakes, stones and trees have a soul, and that even boulders are perpetually moving and changing, migrating as humans do, though infinitely more slowly. She suggests the possibility of broadening our conception of community and adding ancient wisdom to our vision of the future. 

 Andrew Utt, Executive Director of Lux, said he first saw some of Cortez’s work online at YES, a Salvadoran Contemporary Artists Network, and after visiting her studio in L.A., he offered her a residency.

“Her work is based on philosophical ideas and indigenous knowledge, and she touches on so many aspects of the question: How can we re-imagine our relationship to the earth?” he said. In line with her artistic practice, she suggested her exhibition be a collaboration with some of her artist friends and colleagues--not the usual kind of collaboration, but a sequential one, with each resident artist in turn adding something new, transforming the Lux landscape.

“Landscape is often viewed as something to traverse or to excavate,” Utt noted. “Through the guise of an underground serpent, we can begin to imagine landscape as a living being that moves and grows over millennia. The [Glyph] exhibition can help us understand our relationship with migrating land and start to build a stronger relationship with our fellow migrating humans as well as the land they inhabit.” 

In Coronavirus-time, the exhibition offers art-lovers of all ages a full, interactive experience, completely outdoors, with all social distancing and safety measures observed and supplemental photographs and videos on the Lux website. Each visitor is required to reserve a time slot in advance, and the exhibition will take place rain or shine. And it’s all free to the public, through Lux’s Pay As You Wish Initiative.  

The main showpiece, looking down from Lux’s Encinitas hilltop, is Cortez’s large-scale steel and sheet-metal sculpture GLACIAL ERRATIC. Glacial Erratics are wandering rocks transported over huge distances thousands of years ago by glacial ice and deposited in various places around the globe. Cortez’s version, inspired by glacial boulders in New York’s Central Park, was recently part of the 2020 Frieze Sculpture Installation at Rockefeller Center and now seems right at home at Lux. It’s responsive to changes in weather, and recent rainstorms have turned its original silvery color to a sort of rusty gold, particularly attractive in late afternoon. 

But the first resident artist coming to Lux is Christian Tedeschi, who will be building a well out of rocks made of T-Shirts and resin, with an aluminum bottom reflecting both the viewer and the world beyond. Beatriz Cortez comes next, and she’ll be carving the glyph into stones along Lux’s nature trail. For the full list of artists, projects and dates, see below. 

Don’t miss this special exhibition. You may even want to visit twice, as new components keep changing the landscape. Just remember: masks and advance appointments are required; wear walking shoes and come prepared for at least a half-mile of strolling the hillside and whatever the weather may bring.

[Glyph] Residency Exhibition
Resident Artists will be working outside, maintaining safe distance from visitors

February 1 - February 13: Christian Tedeschi. Building a well with fabric rocks.
February 16 - February 27: Beatriz Cortez: Engraving the [Glyph] into stones along the trails.
       Artist Talk:  Feb. 18, 6-7 pm (Spanish), Feb. 25, 6-7pm (English)
March 2 - March 6: rafa esparza. Making adobe bricks that will form the shape of the [Glyph]
March 9 - March 13: Kang Seung Lee. Burying ceramic vessels, made with earth of mountains from other continents, mixed with California clay.
March 16 - March 20: Pavithra Prasad. A series of sonic compositions performed along the nature trail.
March 23 - March 27: Candice Lin. Creating a Wishing Tree, where visitors can leave their own wishes by hammering coins into a tree stump.

[Glyph] Residency Exhibition

Lux Art Institute
1550 S. El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
HOURS: Thurs-Sat, 2-5 pm 
To reserve time for a visit: https://luxartinstitute.youcanbook.me/ 

Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has written about arts and lifestyle for the La Jolla Light and other local media for over a dozen years. You can reach her at hew2@sbcglobal.net

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