On Aug. 31, 2017, after a year of renovation, the family behind Tasende Gallery in La Jolla invited friends and collectors to a special reception celebrating both their reopening and their 38th anniversary with “Signs of the Times,” an exhibit honoring 19 of the artists who have shown here over the years.
The exhibition space is smaller now, but the show includes pieces by superstars like Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson and Fernando Botero, and a colorful ceramic totem by Niki de St. Phalle, who lived in La Jolla from the mid-1990s until her death in 2002.
Also on view is a small bas-relief of the bronze doors Italian sculptor Giacomo Manzu made for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Manzu was featured in the gallery’s inaugural exhibition in June 1979.
Among the venerable artists are two new contemporaries: Brooklyn-based Jonathan Seliger, a neo-Pop sculptor, and Melissa Chandon, a NoCal painter who teaches at UC Davis and was mentored by Wayne Thiebaud, who also has a piece in the show.
Several of the guests, like longtime La Valencia bartender Ray Arcibal and Donna Van Belle, were at the gallery’s 1979 opening. “We served Champagne here,” Van Belle remembered, raising her glass.
“Signs of the Times” will be view through Nov. 4. Next up, in mid-November, is a new Manzu exhibition: “The Artist and the Pope.”
• IF YOU GO: Tasende Gallery, 820 Prospect St. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. (858) 454-3691. tasendegallery.com
• José Tasende was born in the Basque Country of northern Spain, and emigrated to Mexico during the Spanish Civil War. In 1966, he opened his first gallery in Acapulco. Then he moved to La Jolla, and opened the Prospect Street gallery in 1979, with Mary Beth Petersen (soon to become gallery director) as his “do-all assistant.”
• They began working with the Henry Moore Foundation, and as an adjunct to their first exhibition of Moore’s work in 1982, arranged to have several large-scale sculptures installed at Salk Institute and La Jolla Cove.
• For many years, they had sculptures on the lawn outside John Cole’s Book Shop, now the site of La Jolla Historical Society. In 1989, for their 10th anniversary, they placed outdoor sculptures all over La Jolla, and presented a symposium at MCASD that attracted museum directors from around the country.
• The gallery remains a family business, and José's daughter, Betina (who missed the June 1979 opening because it was her prom night at La Jolla High) has been part of it since 1984. After running their Los Angeles space (now closed) for 15 years, she’s home again, organizing exhibitions and establishing a presence at art fairs. Her brother Aitor handles photography, Internet sales and “heavy lifting,” and after 38 years, gallery director Petersen is considered family, too.
“My daughter, Erin, who’s with Intrepid Theatre, is now a gallery assistant,” Petersen said. “That’s how I started out, so we’ve come full-circle.”