If you’re like me, you miss dropping in at the La Jolla branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art on Prospect Street, currently closed for major renovation that will double its size and quadruple its gallery space. But their downtown location on Kettner Blvd. is not so far away, and has some interesting things going on.
On June 20, at their monthly Downtown at Sundown event, museum staff introduced a trio of new installations featuring artists from their permanent collection, plus an imaginative summer-long project that offers interactive activities in their education building across the street.
One of the grand old men of the San Diego art scene, 86-year-old Richard Allen Morris, has pride of place in the museum’s lobby with his picked-up-sticks installation originally created in 1980 from the wooden debris he gathered at the demolition site of a building near his downtown studio.
His entire exhibition here takes its name “More Like a Forest” — from the late David Antin’s description of this piece, but my personal favorites are some of the paintings further inside the museum. And through July 20 you can see even more of his work in downtown La Jolla, at R.B. Stevenson Gallery, 7661 Girard Ave.
For a taste of the weird fantastic, you can’t beat Marnie Weber’s captivating spirit creatures — sculptures, production stills of costumed animals, clowns and masked Spirit Girls from her post-punk films. An L.A.-based performance artist with a life-long love of costumes and “anything that gets me out of reality,” Weber’s larger-than-lifesize bear and unicorn sculptures are actually stuffed costumes she has worn that stand — or sit — on their own as irresistible pieces of art. And you’re welcome to sit with the unicorn in the theater seats she bought on eBay and watch one of her Super-8 films.
Also on view at MCASD is “Prospect 19,” which features a number of pieces the museum is considering for acquisition alongside others that are already in their collection. You can make your own decisions about which new ones you’d like to see chosen.
Across the street at the education building is “TO DO: A Mending Project,” a three-month-long set of free workshops conceived of by artists Michelle Montjoy, Anna O’Cain and Siobhan Arnold. Offering instruction in myriad “acts of repair” by 32 art-makers, it’s a space where people can come together for sessions of constructive collaboration, a generous, creative and hopeful antidote to the current sense of divisiveness in the world outside.
Their own mending workshops encourage everyone to bring in their torn but well-loved clothes and learn how to patch and darn, while sharing the kind of conversation found in old-school communal practices like quilting.
The workshop I attended, “Mend Piece,” invited participants to creatively put together bits of broken cups and saucers. It was inspired by a 1966 piece by Yoko Ono, who wrote: “Mend with wisdom mend with love. It will mend the Earth at the same time.” The introductory talk by artist Paul Best reminded us how creative Ono was, while the workshop showed how creative we ourselves could be, with a little glue, tape, cord and patience.
• IF YOU GO: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is at 1100 Kettner Blvd., downtown San Diego. Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays. Cost: Free-$10.
• “Marnie Weber: Songs That Never Die and Other Stories,” “Richard Allen Morris: More Like a Forest” and “Prospect 19" are on view through Nov. 3. A Mending Project offers free workshops at 1001 Kettner on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 22. See mcasd.org/events for full schedule.
• Special Event: Made By X: From 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 31 at 1001 Kettner Blvd., there will be art-making, conversation and cocktails with artists Michelle Montjoy and William Feeney. Attendees will make their own walking sticks. MCASD members free, non-members $40. Advance reservations suggested at mcasd.org/events or (858) 454-3541.