Local galleries, museums mount interesting exhibitions despite economic pressures.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Tough economic times have hit the visual arts world, but dedicated artists keep working, and dealers, gallerists, curators and collectors who share a passionate belief in the value of art and artists continue to support them. Crisis inspires innovation.
“It’s going to be a new kind of scene,” says Marianne Masteller, artist, wife of painter Barry Masteller, and now director of the 20-year old Claypoole Freese Gallery (San Carlos between Ocean and Seventh in Carmel) which the couple purchased earlier this year. “Dozens of galleries closed in Carmel in the last year. [But] Barry’s dedicated collectors seek him out. It’s the same with Chris Winfield’s gallery – he represents really great artists and has a committed following. It’s stressful, but we’re pulling through. New Masters Gallery, Jerry Winters, Harry Trotter… all are holding on and saying ‘forward!’
“Art collectors are not stopping, but they come back on their own time. We maintain our connection through the internet. It’s global now. Locally, we need to support each other.”
Such Carmel collaboration reaches a new level Saturday, Sept. 12, when the Sunset Center presents the Carmel Treasures Auction for the Arts.
Sunset Center Executive Director Peter Lesnik says: “This is the first time there’s ever been an art auction of this magnitude in Carmel – the proceeds will benefit the Center’s educational programs; all of Carmel will benefit from the expanded audience.” The event involves 58 local galleries and individual artists and presents almost 400 works for auction. The catalog is online(www.sunset.org) and includes familiar names like Kinkade, Masteller, Apodaca, Knight, Auster, De Groat, Saunders, Whyte and Bava, although very little photography. The $95 ticket buys a chance to bid on the art, dinner contributed by 15 local restaurants and many local wineries, with live music, and hobnobbing with local glitterati.
Billie De Monico, president of Gallery i Fine Art in Carmel (Ocean and Mission) and Monterey (685 Cannery Row) brings Moses, a member of the Nyanhongo stone carving family of Zimbabwe, to Monterey County for an Oct. 17 exhibition. (Nyanhongo’s brother and sister, Gedion and Agnes, previously had popular exhibitions at the Carmel gallery ).
“I’ve been in the gallery business for 30 years now,’’ De Monico says. “The last year has been challenging, with a definite decline, and we just opened the Cannery Row gallery in August!Our Carmel gallery is geared to serious collectors, but in Cannery Row, it’s families, tourists, so we filled [it] with affordable works, glass works, cheerful colors. I was an art snob for a long time, but you don’t have a museum unless people come in.”
The charmingly ubiquitous Johnny Apodaca cut the ribbon on Gallery Apodaca in Carmel (Dolores between Fifth and Sixth, 250-7031) and retired from his 25-year day job this week. “Difficult times produce opportunities,’’ he says. “I wasn’t planning this – it’s a big risk. It’s time to open a gallery in Carmel. Artists, you just can’t stop them.”
Sand City is building its reputation as an art destination with a plentitude of studios, including fine art base (652 Redwood Ave.) which opened last February as a nonprofit studio center and gallery without walls. In Seaside, The Alternative Café (1230 Fremont Blvd.) pairs hip, innovative exhibitions with DJ music and espresso.
At the higher end of the spectrum, museums act as flagships, educating audiences and enhancing artists’ careers.
The Monterey NOW program of the Monterey Museum of Art serves that function, directed by chief curator Marcelle Polednik. The current exhibit, Kevin Miller (at the Pacific Avenue location through Nov. 8) demonstrates his mastery of the old artform of the paper cutout, with a sensibility referring as much to the gestural ink drawings of comic strips as cutout traditions. The CSUMB grad created one massive work directly on a MMA gallery wall, with characters summoning memories of Felix the Cat in teeming images of modern life, and already overspilling the rectangle.
The museum’s In Process series begins Oct. 10 with works by Mark Licari, a Los Angeles-based artist who’ll show drawings, sculpture and paintings, some done directly on one of the looming walls of MMA-La Mirada. “The museum has given me free rein,’’ Licara says. “It will be completely inspired by the space and by this region. I’m always intrigued by the intersection of science and the natural world on the human world and this is such a center of that kind of research.’’
To the east, Salinas shores up the National Steinbeck Center and promotes www.destinationsalinas.com, a new arts website, while David Ligare, one of the area’s most distinguished artists, lives out his passionate belief in the redemptive qualities of art in his center for street creativity in the @risK gallery.