Best Of Show
Juried show at the MMA, and a Pop Fest in PG.By Rick Deragon
Thursday, September 18, 2003
The Monterey Museum of Art''s current All Media Juried Exhibition 2003 features 63 artists from Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties in a show that is all over the stylistic map. Several brands of realist painting can be seen, as well as funky, found, formal and fabric artwork. One doesn''t get any sense of continuity from such a display as much as a discomfitting feeling, like running the radio tuner back and forth through all the stations. But then, in a show open to all mediums, it''s not surprising.
The judging process was by slides, sent to juror Scott Shields, art curator at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento. He selected what he believed to be the best of each genre.
"It ran the gamut from traditional to cutting edge, so I tried to represent all of that," he says. "I didn''t go into the selection process with preconceived ideas, no personal esthetic I wished to impose, I just wanted to get a cross-section of what was happening. It''s the fairest way to do it. Artists shouldn''t have to conform to my way of seeing."
With the host museum in Monterey, it is natural that the majority of artists would be from the Peninsula. Shields noticed it, as well as the influence of this corner of the world on their work.
"I was aware of the place, the Monterey Peninsula, after looking at so many slides, about a thousand of them," he says. "A lot of the work had elements of the area''s natural features. But even the abstract work seemed to have references to the landscape, the colors, the atmosphere, the fog."
Shields also reports that he saw "a lot of landscapes."
Museum Director Richard Gadd says that Scott did "a great job" selecting a wide variety of art. "The slides submitted included practically everything. Surprisingly, about fifty percent was abstract, non-representational, and the other half was traditionalist painting, a variety of sculptural styles, and straight to unreadable, abstract photography."
Visitors to the gallery will see that variety at every turn. Brian Blood''s "Asilomar Sunset" catches the eye with its high contrast rendition of the blast of light off white water and rocks. The creamy paint and drawing of the subject recall the best of the Western painters who defined the California landscape 80 years ago. Barry Masteller is represented by "Earth and Sky 454," one of his meditations on ephemeral landscape forms at twilight.
Joan Blackmer''s "Courage in the Pond" is part of the All Media Juried Exhibition at the Monterey Museum of Art.
"Sunset," a quiet little painting by Andrea Johnson, depicts a band of coastal hills in silhouette, the wispy clouds overhead catching the last rays of the day. In contrast, William Keland''s "Late Afternoon, Corral de Tiera" is all about light and details, effects usually found in color photography; clearly defined fields-foreground, middle ground, background-draw the viewer into the intimate valley.
Some of the realist landscapes are illustrational, though highly accomplished, in their high-resolution or formulaic composition and color; one imagines Shields impressed with their craft more than emotional content. This type of painting is offset, however, by the likes of Johnny Apodaca''s broadly painted "Big South," a color-packed essay on the coastal cliffs south of Carmel.
Of the abstract work in painting, photography and sculpture, not much is remarkable to this critic. As a genre since Kandinsky''s pivotal paintings of 1910, abstraction has served the intellectual construct of many artists, as well as the expressionistic goals of others. In both approaches, familiar "handwriting" has emerged: geometric forms and compositional balance for the mind, diagonals, drips and gesture for the expressionist. We see both here, but, unhappily, there are many works that seem lost between the two poles and are, thus, boring. Surfaces seem under-baked or decorative and lacking any teeth.
On the other hand, Chris Winfield''s "Untitled" is a balanced, contemplative painting that has subtle bands and bars emerging from a Rothko-like experience. Jerry Richman''s "Process" is a coagulation of marks and gestures piled one on top of the other to effect a kind of expressive mania.
The sculpture, collage and assemblage in this exhibition are more of the tired warhorses that have circulated in the art world for years. Technical finish varies; some are highly tooled and expertly crafted, others are gatherings of objects for a personal expression. The hermeticism that results can be tiring, as the viewer must approach the visual art ready to analyze or respond to the poetry of juxtapositions and happy accidents. As with some of the abstract painting, purpose-the artist''s volition-is elusive.
In Pacific Grove, three exhibits open this weekend at the Lisa Coscino Gallery. Santa Barbara painter Nicole Strasburg shows work inspired by a trip to western Ireland, and Los Angeles printmaker Artemio Rodriguez will display a cross section of his linocuts, woodblock prints and books.
The highest profile of the three new shows is a selection of Andy Warhol paintings of famous 1970s-era athletes from the collection of Robert Weisman. The noted Los Angeles collector will be on hand to sign copies of his book, From Picasso to Pop, and the gallery''s back room will be transformed for the evening into a version of Warhol''s "Factory." A 1987 documentary of the artist''s life will also be screened.
The paintings Weisman is bringing to the Lisa Coscino Gallery were the result of a proposal he made to Warhol in 1978. "I came to Andy with the idea of art and sports," Weisman recalls. "Here were two leisure activities that didn''t have much to do with each other in the ''70s. I thought it was intriguing. Andy didn''t have any experience with sports, didn''t know a football from a golf ball, but he loved the idea. By the time he finished the project he was a baseball fan and was going to Knicks games."
Proceeds from the sale of Weisman''s book will benefit art programs in area middle schools, and Weisman himself will be talking to CSU Monterey Bay museum studies students, Pacific Grove Middle School art students, Pacific Grove High School photography students, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey Peninsula.
Weisman''s concern for the education and artistic well-being of students stems from his own passion for art and collecting. It seems he wants company in the endeavor.
Weisman, whose uncle was noted collector and museum founder Norton Simon and whose mother helped found the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, began collecting early. "I was very fortunate to have had art around me when I was growing up. Some kids rebel and do the opposite of what their parents do, but I didn''t. I began collecting art," he says.
"I buy things I enjoy. I make it a specific point to buy what I want to hang up and live with, to wake up in the morning and see at the start of a day. My collection is very eclectic, it''s all over the place. I might have a Pre-Raphaelite next to an Old Master, a Norman Rockwell next to a DeKooning. The French Impressionists were too expensive by the time I started so I don''t have any of them."
As far as collection goes, Weisman offers this advice: "Don''t worry about the lack of money and art history background. Don''t be worried about what it''s worth. Too many people are concerned about making a good investment. You should purchase something to hang on the walls of your home, to live with and enjoy every day."