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Summer 2013 exhibitions at Laguna Art Museum include installations with a twist
Installation shot of Sea Change: Tanya Aguiņiga’s Bluebelt Forest.

LAGUNA BEACH, CA.- The Laguna Art Museum opened three new exhibitions to the public: Faux Real; Sea Change: Tanya Aguiņiga’s Bluebelt Forest; and ex·pose: beatriz da costa. Faux Real and ex·pose: beatriz da costa are on display through September 29. Sea Change: Tanya Aguiņiga’s Bluebelt Forest is a commissioned installation that will be on display through May 18, 2014. The museum’s current exhibition of John Mason: Blue Wall (which opened in February) is on display through October 13.

June 2-September 29, 2013

Faux Real is a group exhibition curated by Laguna Art Museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art Grace Kook-Anderson, which features installation artists and sculptors who recreate reality with a twist, using off-beat materials and in most cases a keen sense of humor. The results are playful, intriguing, and highly entertaining. The participating artists re-imagine reality with their work. They begin with familiar subjects: food, furniture, and knick-knacks that occupy the spaces of many homes, and recreate them with unconventional and often surprising materials. The pieces highlight mundane everyday objects often passed over without a second thought, bringing into focus the exercise of seeing, the processes of construction, and the broad utility of materials. While often humorous in their execution, the included artwork offers social and political critique of American culture and the mass culture of consumerism.

Artists featured in the exhibition include: Michael Arcega, Sandow Birk, Libby Black, Julie Bozzi, Amy Caterina, Lauren DiCioccio, Daniel Douke, Ala Ebtekar, Cheryl Ekstrom, David Gilhooly, Kim MacConnel, Matthias Merkel Hess, Jean Lowe, Gifford Myers, Kaz Oshiro, Elyse Pignolet, Walter Robinson, Richard Shaw, and Stephanie Syjuco.

June 2, 2013-May 18, 2014

This summer the museum opened a site-specific installation along the same lines as Faux Real by Los Angeles artist Tanya Aguiņiga in its upper level gallery. Aguiņiga transformed the space into a forest of kelp, corals, barnacles, and other fantastic creatures that one would typically find under the sea just off the coast of Laguna Beach. Every object in the exhibition has been hand-made by the artist and her assistants, using a variety of materials and textiles. By recreating these organic elements using unexpected, manmade materials, Aguiņiga enables the viewer to experience them anew. In addition to looking, visitors will also be able to explore the exhibition through touching it, thereby allowing for a truly immersive encounter.

Aguiņiga works at the intersection of furniture design, craft making, and fine art. The ability to successfully navigate between different worlds is something that she attributes to having grown up in the border area of Tijuana and San Diego, where she had to cross the border and move between cultures on a daily basis throughout her childhood. Just as Aguiņiga has been doing in her personal life, she inhabits more than one world through her work.

Aguiņiga (b.1978) received her BA in Furniture Design from San Diego State University and her MFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. Among the awards she has received are United States Artists Fellow and USA Target Fellow in Crafts and Traditional Arts. She has also been involved in a numerous community empowerment projects, including the Border Art Workshop (BAW/TAF), a collaborative of artists from Mexico and the U.S.

June 2-September 29, 2013

The fourth exhibition in Laguna Art Museum’s ex·pose series features the most recent project by the late Beatriz da Costa. Dying for the Other, a triptych video installation, offers a parallel consideration of mice used in breast cancer research set alongside scenes from the artist’s own life. Da Costa suffered from breast cancer and underwent intense medical treatment to combat the disease. In doing so, the artist covers an uncomfortable and sticky part of our collective social consciousness—pursuing the advancement of science and medicine, but doing so at the sacrifice of other “less intelligent” beings.

Set alongside Dying for the Other is da Costa’s Anti-Cancer Survival Kit, a friendly and interactive approach to a somewhat taboo social subject. The kit provides information for people to take the resources and knowledge home with them. Some of the components of the kit include a database of comprehensive research; a coffee-table style illustrated book providing guidelines for anti-cancer approaches; games designed for touch-screen mobile devices; and information on creating an anti-cancer, DIY garden. Bringing together scholars and artists from many disciplines, these set of supplies and collected knowledge are meant for those living with cancer, while also serving as tools for their loved ones.

“It’s the kind of kit I wish somebody would have given me as a gift, when I was first diagnosed years ago,” da Costa says about initiating the project. She had dealt with the disease in different manifestations since diagnosed with her first cancer at age fourteen.

Da Costa has worked as a multidisciplinary artist exploring human impact on the world around us—promoting an awareness of the inextricable ways in which active and passive human action affects our environment. Her work as an educator (she was the Associate Professor of Studio Art, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine) was indicative of her multidisciplinary tact in promoting social awareness, fusing the impact of raw data and science with appeals to emotional sensibilities. After battling the illness for so long, da Costa passed away at age 38 on December 27, 2012.

In conjunction with ex·pose: beatriz da costa, Laguna Art Museum has partnered with Laguna Beach High School to present Metastatic in the Young Artists Society Gallery. Laguna Beach High School art teacher Bridget Beaudry-Porter worked with a number of 9th to 12th grade students during a two-month period in the spring of 2013 to create paintings based on microbiological images of cancer cells. The project not only introduced students to the use of scientific imagery as inspiration for making art, but also gave them the opportunity to investigate cancer from a different perspective. The result is a group of stunning paintings with a beauty all their own.

ex•pose is a contemporary art program curated by Grace Kook-Anderson, curator of contemporary art at Laguna Art Museum. Focusing on one emerging or mid-career artist at a time, the program encourages the development of new projects and an immersive involvement with the museum’s Young Artists Society Gallery program. ex•pose aims to present a diverse range of artists working in all mediums.

February 24-Ocotber 13, 2013

The museum hosts a special exhibition of Blue Wall, on loan from artist John Mason. The large scale wall sculpture was recently on display at The Getty Museum as part of its Pacific Standard Time exhibition Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970.

Blue Wall is an abstract large-scale sculpture, which ignited a new genre of ceramic walls in 1959. It is considered the best example of abstract expressionist ceramics. Mason began his first large-scale sculptures in 1957 leading up to the monumental Blue Wall (1959). Laboriously laid out in one night so the clay could dry evenly, Mason worked directly on the floor, shaping and molding the clay. The sculpture was then cut into shapes and separated into over one hundred pieces. The pieces were then fired and fitted to form on the wall. The clay has been sculpted, pushed, built-up, and cut into, creating a rhythmic ripple throughout the piece.

Born in Madrid, Nebraska in 1927, Mason enrolled at the Otis Art Institute (then the Los Angeles County Art Institute) in 1949. Two years later, his interest in ceramics led him to serve as a teaching assistant at Chouinard Art Institute and then returned to Otis working closely with Peter Voulkos. Mason also taught classes at UC Berkeley, where Voulkos became a faculty member, and at Pomona College in Claremont, before accepting a teaching position at UC Irvine in 1967, founding the ceramics department. Mason showed with the Ferus Gallery from 1957 until its closure in 1966. He continues to live and work in Los Angeles. His notable exhibitions include Pasadena Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Hudson River Museum.

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