August: Orange County
Late summer is hardly peak season in the art world: Schools are out of session and gallery owners are on vacation. If art is being seen, it’s most likely at one of the outdoor festivals at the foot of Laguna Canyon Road or in the art competitions at the local county fair. Obviously nobody wants to be indoors when it’s 90 degrees, but there are a few shows ending soon that will make a quick venture indoors a worthwhile endeavor.
One example is “Summer Luminaries” at Brett Rubbico Gallery on Old Newport Road, which opened July 9 and will likely extend through the end of August (but phone ahead — it’s summer, after all). This show features five artists whose work is minimal and process-oriented. Janet Rosener and Beth King use materials that we might typically think of as industrial — steel, aluminum, tempered glass. Edith Baumann’s geometric paintings are like jazz improvisations as transcribed by Theo van Doesburg or Kazimir Malevich. Ann Marie Rousseau’s 100 Points on a Line #12 is a fluid line drawing on paper — monochromatic, but with variations in the thickness and direction of the lines to create visual interest.
Leaving Rubbico you will naturally want to head south on PCH.
As you pull into Laguna Beach, take the opportunity to get your retro ‘60s fix with the small show “John Altoon: Drawings and Prints” on the second floor of the Laguna Art Museum. Presumably you’ve already made the trek to LACMA to see the full retrospective of this Los Angeles painter associated with Ferus Gallery in the 1960s, who died in 1969 at the age of 43. Laguna’s Altoon offerings include a mix of commercial work, such as a magazine illustrations, and fine art lithographic prints of organic abstraction that bear the influence of fellow Armenian Arshile Gorky.
While in Laguna, there is also “Summer Formal” at Peter Blake or “Colectiva,” an annual group show at Salt Fine Art on PCH. Or for that matter, there’s little shame in spending an afternoon or evening at Sawdust, Art-a-Fair or the Laguna Festival of Arts, all of which run through the end of August. Pageant of the Masters anyone? No? Fine, moving on.
Get away from beach traffic by heading north, up Laguna Canyon Road and over to Irvine for the Irvine Fine Arts Center’s latest iteration of “Analog Digital.” Featured in the show are Julie Orser’s installation Not Yet Tomorrow (688 tinted plastic VHS tape cases paneled over a window), a video of bicycle bell-ringing in Holland by filmmaker Cecilia Miniuchi and curator (turned emerging art star) Carl Berg, and 1970s-era digital photography by George Katzenberger. (Printed originally on a dot matrix printer and using numbers and letters in the place of pixels, it is essentially early ASCII art.) Lisa Bloomfield’s grid of small digital photographs are contemporary and mysterious, with an oval vignette presentation that harkens back to early traditions of photographic display. The analog traditional gelatin silver portion of the show includes worthy work by Nicole Caldwell and others. (Through September 6)
“Transcending Trash: The Art of Upcycling” may sound like the title of a TED talk, but curator Matt Leslie has put together a show at Anaheim’s Muzeo that is actually quite nice to look at. The life-size animals created by Cynthia Minet out of recycled plastics and internally lit by LED lights are alone worth the price of admission. It’s all about fashioning art from “found” objects, i.e., the massive amount of material we throw away as garbage every day. (Through August 31.)
Both the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton and City of Brea Gallery have shows of printmaking and works on paper, with some overlap of artists between the two shows. Brea has “Push and Pull: A Collaborative Exhibition with the Los Angeles Printmaking Society,” which is the larger of the two shows and serves as a good survey of contemporary printmaking practice. There are plenty of traditional woodcuts and etchings by artists working in Los Angeles, Orange County and beyond, but something especially interesting happens when dimensionality enters in and the print jumps off the wall.
Michelle Rozic’s 2014 installation Tideland is a case in point. Consisting of cyanotype and screen printing with metal leaf, the cyanotype images on the wall provide photographic evidence of debris and ocean detritus, while the rocks below are printed with corporate logos. Noriho Uriu, an exhibitor at the Laguna Festival of Arts, here throws tradition to the wind, rolling ink onto computer circuit boards and printing them on an etching press. The printed pieces are then cut out and collaged together to form a bas-relief structure that also bears the influence of Japanese pattern making. (Through September 12)
“Washi Print Making with Paper of Fukui” at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center is all about the paper underneath the print: kozo, Moriki, washi, mulberry. Mark Iwinski makes a statement about the cutting down of old-growth forest through the simple act of inking the exposed rings of felled trees and preserving their stumps on paper. (These are woodcuts, literally.) Sahn Klee has a beautifully rendered etching of an elk on an abstracted plane, with clear Japanese influence, and Seiko Tachibana, making excellent use of a back room of the 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival residence, creates installations that put to good use the idea of the multiple, a concept inherent to printmaking, with a series of small etchings pinned to the wall like butterfly specimens. (Through September 28)