This Week @ UC San Diego

November 1, 2011 | By Sheena Ghanbari

Pacific Standard Time: UC San Diego Artists Featured in a Celebration of Southern California Art

May 4, 1972

“29 Arrests: Headquarters of the 11th Naval District, May 4, 1972, San Diego” (detail), 1972, by Fred Lonidier, UC San Diego professor of visual arts. Courtesy of the artist.

The Pacific Standard Time festival, a celebration and revitalization of Southern California art and the art scene in Los Angeles 1945-1980, marks the nation’s largest creative alliance. Spearheaded by the J. Paul Getty Trust, the festival is a “collaboration of 60 cultural institutions and more than 1,350 artists,” stretching from San Diego to Santa Barbara. The Getty has contributed more than $10 million in grants towards relevant events and exhibitions. Running from October 2011 to April 2012, Pacific Standard Time has spiraled from a conservation effort to a large-scale civic initiative.

A number of faculty members and alumni of UC San Diego’s visual arts department are featured in this unprecedented production. Highlights of university participation and representation include exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), as well as the Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival.

UC San Diego alumna Yolanda López

“Tableaux Vivant” series, 1978, by UC San Diego alumna Yolanda López, MFA ’79. Photographer: Susan Mogul. Courtesy of the artist.

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA presents a survey exhibition documenting California art in the period between Richard Nixon’s resignation and Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. “Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981” draws from several artists working in various mediums to showcase the clashing ideologies of the time-period. The exhibition runs until Feb. 13 and includes UC San Diego Visual Arts professor Fred Lonidier, emeriti professors Eleanor Antin, the late Allan Kaprow and Kim MacConnell, former faculty John Baldessari , Chip Lord and Allan Sekula, and alumni Susan Mogul and Martha Rosler. These artists contribute towards the experimental nature of the show. Eleanor Antin, for instance, uses nontraditional materials like paper dolls and a cardboard airplane to create a video about the hijacking of a plane in “The Nurse and the Hijackers.” MFA alumna and former faculty member Martha Rosler also presents a video that incorporates humor and commentary with “The East Is Red and the West Is Bending.”

Some of these UC San Diego artists are also participating in “State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970” at OCMA, running until Jan. 22. This exhibition presents a broad array of art practice with a focus on conceptual art in Northern and Southern California. The artwork on display at both exhibitions reflects the lack of confidence in government and institutions.

Shifting to a sometimes overlooked facet of Southern California art, MoLAA’s “MEX/LA: Mexican Modernism(s) in Los Angeles 1930-1985” is a provocative exhibition about the impact of Mexican art, curated by Rubén Ortiz-Torres, UC San Diego professor of visual arts, in association with Jesse Lerner. “It is an exhibition about the uneasy relationships between the old and new and the North and the South,” says Ortiz-Torres. The exhibit’s artists, like alumna Yolanda López, present artwork that showcases the hybridity of the region’s culture. López’s piece “Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe” highlights the misinterpretations of minority culture and aims to present an different view of Chicana and Mexican American femininity. The work was originally on display at UC San Diego for her MFA thesis exhibition in 1979 and will be on display at MoLAA until Jan. 29. Ortiz-Torres compares the exhibition to the city itself: “…art, aesthetics, and culture collide like the tectonic plates in a seismic zone.”

Eleanor Antin, UC San Diego professor emeritus of visual arts

“Representational Painting” video still, 1971, by Eleanor Antin, UC San Diego professor emeritus of visual arts. Courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

Another show that explores the impact of Chicano art is “Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987.” This exhibition at LACMA is co-curated by Visual Arts Rita Gonzalez and is running until Dec. 4. LACMA will present a retrospective of the Chicano performance group Asco. The group utilizes public art, performance and multimedia to respond to social and political turmoil in Los Angeles.

Finally, a performance and public festival is one of the landmark events of Pacific Standard Time. For 11 days, Jan. 19-29, sites throughout Southern California will be transformed with new and restaged perfomative works inspired by artists from 1945-1980. The Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival includes a major new presentation of Eleanor Antin’s performance “Before the Revolution” and celebrates Southern California as a birthplace for performance art.

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