Sunday, February 4, 2024

Seen and Unseen at Oceanside Museum of Art

by Patricia Frischer

Dennis Carrie (1st place)

2023-24 Artist Alliance Biennial – until March 31, 2024

This first that comes to mind when I view this show is, “you have come a long way, baby!” From a one room building when I arrived 23 years ago,  the Oceanside Museum of Art has greatly expanded their footprint. The Artist Alliance when I was first a member, was showing art in an alleyway. Now the quality and quantity of work on display is truly impressive. There are just too many names for me to mention, that I have watched develop and improve,  and so many others that I am discovering which excites me.  

Jonathon Glus, Executive Director for the Arts & Culture, San Diego has to choose from 1,149 submissions by 303 artists to select works of 75 artworks from 62 of OMA’s Artist Alliance members. Whew! Marshall Toomey was the grand prize winner who get his own one man exhibition later in 2024 or 2025. There are also other cash prize winners and honorable mentions, but the joy of this kind of show is picking your own favorites. Go and see!

Lani Emanuel

top: Matthew Meinhardt bottom: Sue DeWulf

Sandra Chanis

Robin Raznick

Robin Raznick (detail)


Listening to the Unheard/Drawing the Unseen. Meditations on Presence and Absence in Native Lands Drawings by John Halaka, curated by Vallo Riberto – until Feb 17th, 2024

Until the lions have their storytellers, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunters.   African Proverb

When circumstances are made real by another’s testimony, it becomes possible to envision change.  James Balwin.

The art and literature of suvivance* are the antidotes to forgetting.  They ensure that experiences are preserved and current and future generations are well informed. John Halaka

*A combination of survival and resistance.

I often think of artists as predictors. They can draw from their unconscious mind and tap into what may be in our futures. We have lots of evidence of this happening especially in books and movies. 

But artists are also documenters of past and present occurrences. History shows that we need many points of views to make that documentation valuable. But the artist brings a special emotional component to the recording. It is non-verbal and so much more open to interpretation when analyzed. But what about when is it not analyzed and it is just felt. It is then that the viewer can be struck potently with feeling they may not even have known they have. I believe John Halaka is trying to make us feel. Those feelings can be confusing, guilt ridden, outraged, tormented, anxious. They can be conflicting and even controversial. For me, acknowledging those feelings can be as important as acknowledging wrongs. 

Halaka’s subjects are Indigenous and Black Americans as well as his own Palestinian ancestral heritage.  The show has been expertly curated by Vallo Riberto who selected and displayed the works to read very clearly. The artist’s voice is stated in many dialectics on the wall, but it is the calm presentation of Riberto that make them accessible. 

It is to be noted that the show was planned before the recent middle eastern troubles and I believe is not intended by OMA as a statement in support of any particular side in the conflict. John Halaka is a San Diego artist and professor at UCSD and the mission of OMA is to explore the art of southern Californian artists.

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