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Press Release

Center Museum Announces 2003 Exhibition LOOK. REACT. ENGAGE: The Art of Collecting at Two San Diego Museums January 26 to December 31, 2003

ESCONDIDO, CA (January 10, 2003) The Museum, California Center for the Arts, Escondido is pleased to announce their next exhibition, LOOK. REACT. ENGAGE: The Art of Collecting at Two San Diego Museums on view from January 26 through December 31, 2003. The first phase of this year long series of four exhibitions will focus on works drawn from the American collections of the San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) and the Center Museum’s permanent collection. The subsequent phases, opening in April, July and October, will present Asian, Latin American and Contemporary art from both institutions. The exhibition is organized by The Center Museum and curated by Sally Yard, Ph.D., professor of Art History at the University of San Diego.

Traditionally, the act and the art of collecting have been at the heart of what art museums do, and many people assess an art museum’s 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 Center’s 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 Sternberg’s 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 Bellows’s daughter Anne was given by the University Women’s Club to the San Diego Museum of Art in 1927 -- two years after the artist’s 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, SDMA’s core of works by Harry Sternberg have been acquired through both purchase and gift. By contrast, the works by Sternberg in the Center Museum’s
collection were given by the artist in 2001, while the photographs of Ohm were a gift of the artist’s widow.

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 Center’s 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 Joe’s of Escondido. For more information on membership at The Center call (760) 839-4123 or online at www.artcenter.org.

About The California Center for the Arts, Escondido
Located in North San Diego County at 340 North Escondido Boulevard in Escondido, the California Center for the Arts, Escondido is accessible by major interstate highways. The Center’s 12-acre campus offers a Performing Arts season with internationally renowned artists, acclaimed contemporary art exhibitions in the Museum, an education complex offering classes and workshops for young people, families and adults, and an awarding-winning Conference Center which hosts more than 400 events each year in North County’s largest meeting facility. The Center is a non-profit organization that is supported by a combination of public and private donations. For more information, please visit http://www.artcenter.org.

About The San Diego Museum of Art
First opened in 1926, the San Diego Museum of Art is the region’s oldest and largest art museum, providing access to great achievements in art to all of San Diego’s diverse communities. Supporting its first-rate collections of European, Asian, American, and contemporary art and year-round schedule of nationally touring exhibitions are a wide variety of lectures, concerts, films, and education classes. Located in historic Balboa Park, the Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Thursday until 9:00 p.m. For information call (619) 232-7931 or log on to www.sdmart.org.

Calendar Information:
LOOK. REACT. ENGAGE: The Art of Collecting at Two San Diego Museums
January 26 to December 31, 2003
Members Preview Reception January 25, 2003 from 6-9PM
Museum, California Center for the Arts, Escondido
340 North Escondido Blvd., Escondido
800-988-4253 or 760-839-4120

Museum Hours and Admission:
Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday, 12:00 to 5:00 pm
Closed Mondays and major holidays (call for holiday hours)
Open until curtain for Center-sponsored events in the Concert Hall and Center Theater on Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday

$5.00 Adults:
$4.00 Seniors (65+), Active Military
$3.00 Students with ID, Youth 12-18
FREE Youth under 12, Center Members
Performance ticket holders receive free admission day of performance
First Wednesdays of each month are free