Saturday, May 29, 2021

Art in Private Places: Oceanside Museum of Art curates Hotel Art

By Patricia Frischer

Michelle Montjoy

Art in Private, not that kind of private…but a couple of new hotels in Oceanside started collaborating three years ago with the Oceanside Museum of Art to commission local artists to make site specific works on display within the hotels

OMA co-curator Rebecca Webb was in conversation with Jennifer Luce, Michelle Montjoy, and Akiko Surai about the work they created for The Mission Pacific Hotel and The Seabird Resort in downtown Oceanside

Top left to right: Rebecca Webb, Jennifer Luce, Bottom left to right: Michelle Montjoy, Akiko Surai 

After each artist made a quick presentation of current and past work, Rebecca Webb asked a series of questions; about the title of the art and how they reflected on the practice, if art activism for social issues was a focus, and what were the influences to create these works for the hotels. 

Jennifer Luce’s Lure 2  is hundreds of stainless steel fishing lures woven together as a wall hanging backdrop behind the reception desk. Luce is probably more known for her architecture but loves to cross over into fine art.  Fishing is a big coastal industry, but people are lured in with this piece that she hopes fascinate them. A group made the piece gathering for conversation as they worked safely to assemble it. Buildings take a long time to create, but art works are the experiments and intense starting points of creativity. Her passion is to be an artist here and there, but also support and encourage artists. Luce is an important part of the Mingei overhaul and she was happy to report that the first floor of the new building will be open and free to the public. 

Michelle Montjoy’s Chorus is a large selection of her woven shapes hung in the pre-event room in front of the ballroom. She uses common materials, this time used t-shirts from events held in Oceanside that become embedded with the history of those who wore them. A chorus is, of course, a collaboration of voices. She wanted this work to bridge the inside and outside communities coming to the hotel for special occasions. A long-time feminist with environmental concerns, Montjoy sees no separation between her activism and her art. It is the artists role to push back but always in an authentic way.  Every human needs to make things and women are the vital makers that sometimes literally knitted together everyone on earth. She wants the feelings to be infused in the work and usually goes to a whole host of venues to gather people to create. Once together the materials are seductive and encourage conversations. 

Akiko Surai worked with marine rope for Pacific Stratum combining it with embroidery bringing forth the question: What is art and what is craft? This is a very large expansion of a piece we saw at SDAI at the art and science show curated by Chi Essary. It deals with layers of class and the phenomena of bio-mimicry which is using nature to learn.  Each of the segments of this work are independent and inner-dependent.  Yes, that means there are simultaneous realities. Sometimes we are connected sometimes not. Surai is in the middle of all sorts of social issues and this project throws her right into the discussion about high culture vs social culture. This work is structural and also decorative.  Art has the potential to change the world by growth enhancing while not erasing the past. The makers of the work need to be valued especially as many of those workers could never afford to stay as guest at this hotel. Those hands need to be seen and felt. But even if the work in the hotel is not always accessible to the public, it can be a stepping stone for the artist to get funded for other more accessible work.

Rebecca Webb reminded us that there will be many activities organized around the launch of these pieces that will give access to them including walk throughs, workshops, and panels.

Her last question was about the emotions involved in creating these works: exciting, scary, frustrating, prideful, challenging, and even emptiness to be finished. They all agreed that the power of art can influences these spaces for the better.  

Watch the interviews at Small Talks: Art As A Community-Based Practice


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