Traditionally, the act and the art of collecting have been at the heart of what art museums do, and many people assess an art museums success and accomplishments in part by the scope, size and quality of its collections.
Don Bacigalupi, Executive Director of the San Diego Museum of Art says, "We are happy to assist The Museum, California Center for the Arts, Escondido with this compelling year long series of exhibitions. The San Diego Museum of Art has many North County patrons and visitors, and we are most pleased to be sharing works from our collections with the larger North County community."
Often, art museums are established to house existing collections, while some museums are conceived to collect for a community. Although quite distinct in size, history and programmatic focus, both The Center Museum and the SDMA were established in part to create collections for their respective cities in San Diego County. The Center Museum, founded at the end of the twentieth century, has a fledgling collection of some 100 works by notable regional, national and international artists, acquired primarily by donation and commission. The San Diego Museum of Art, an institution established in 1924, has a renowned collection of more than 12,000 works.
LOOK. REACT. ENGAGE will explore a number of themes ranging from issues of connoisseurship, challenges of documentation and collections care, the passionate relationships that collectors, curators and viewers develop with works by particular artists and periods, and the role of artists in the viewing and interpretive experience. This unusual institutional collaboration is conceived to establish a meaningful context for the development and future of The Centers programs and collection, while at the same time contemplating the remarkable resources a short stretch of freeway away.
From January 26 through April 13, prints and paintings by George Bellows (1882-1925) and Harry Sternberg (1904-2001) will be exhibited together with the experimental photographic prints of Herbert Ohm (1898-1972).
Several themes thread through these three bodies of work: portraiture, place, injustice, war. From Bellows s images of the public spectacle of boxing to Sternbergs etchings of the lowering landscapes of coal mining and almost animate machinery of steel mills, the terrain of the United States during the first third of this century is examined. The rhapsodic imagery of Ohm made during the final years of the 1940s focuses on nature, whether the open spaces of the western landscape or the intricate architecture of a hibiscus blossom.
For each of the three artists the medium of the print was crucial. Bellows embraced the rich luminosity and stark fluidity of lithography. Sternberg reveled in the unrelenting dialogue of artist and material implicit in his methods of making of woodcuts and etchings. Ohm was ardent in experimenting with an array of unconventional processes for generating photographic prints.
There is fortune and luck as well as purposeful pursuit in the formation of all collections. One of the delights of perusing most museums storage vaults is the unexpected juxtaposition of images from different realms. While Bellows and Sternberg are major figures in the history of American art, Ohm whose photographs were shown in 1949 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. remains largely unknown. Works by the three artists have made their way into the two collections through disparate routes.
A study of Bellowss
daughter Anne was given by the University Womens Club to the San
Diego Museum of Art in 1927 -- two years after the artists death
and three years after the museum opened as the Fine Arts Gallery of San
Diego. In the intervening three-quarters of a century, SDMA has assembled,
through purchase and donation, one of the major holdings of Bellows lithographs
in the world. Likewise, SDMAs core of works by Harry Sternberg have
been acquired through both purchase and gift. By contrast, the works by
Sternberg in the Center Museums
The resonance of the art of Bellows, Sternberg and Ohm suggests one role that museums play: the works in their collections are inevitably charged by the contexts in which they are shown. The show, which will include a number of interactive elements, will be designed to provoke and intrigue patrons to consider their own responses to art as they learn about the individual and institutional forces behind the formation of these two San Diego County museum collections and the challenges facing art museums in the twenty-first century.
Natasha Martinez, The Centers Director of Visual Arts and Education, notes, We are delighted to work once again with Dr. Sally Yard, and to collaborate on this special project with the San Diego Museum of Art. This exhibition will offer North County and San Diego audiences new insights into the relationships between artists, collectors and institutions, as well as present a number of significant artists represented in the permanent collections of both institutions. The extended nature of the project will allow for a rich variety of artworks to be presented, including some never before on display.
There will be a special Members Preview Reception on January 25, 2003 from 6-9PM. Catering will be provided by Trader Joes of Escondido. For more information on membership at The Center call (760) 839-4123 or online at www.artcenter.org.
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