‘Compelling’ pieces in Gabrielle Bakker exhibit at Lux Art Institute



Friday night, April 6, was a big night at Lux Art Institute in Encinitas. An enthusiastic crowd gathered for the opening of an exhibit of Renaissance/Japanese/Cubist-influenced paintings by this month’s artist-in-residence, Gabrielle Bakker.

There was live music outside, and the in-gallery performance by local choreographer Sadie Weinberg’s LITVAK Dance Company seemed to go beautifully with the artworks. Admiring the central piece, “Geisha Surfer,” which served as a backdrop for the dancers and introductory talks by both artist and choreographer, one woman said: “I could stand in front of this painting for seven years!”

That’s about as much time as Bakker actually takes to complete some of her paintings. With an inventive spirit and classical techniques, she interweaves mythological, historical and contemporary subjects and manages to create compelling pieces that suggest strange and interesting stories.

Normally, the Seattle-based artist (B.F.A. Chicago Art Institute, M.F.A. Yale) works at her own pace. Now she has 30 days to finish “The Fish Hook,” a large-scale painting inspired by the legends of Leda, Icarus and Ariadne. As always at Lux, visitors are invited to talk with her about her process — a particularly rewarding experience in the case of this artist, who has various stages of her work-in-progress on display.

“I want to get people to stop and have an experience with my paintings,” Bakker said. “It’s my responsibility to make each one good enough for that to happen.”

Farewell Reesey Shaw

Another interesting story emerged on April 6: Lux’s director, La Jollan Reesey Shaw, will no longer be heading the Art Institute she founded 20 years ago.

Senior staff members are working closely with longtime board members to ease the transition, and artists-in-residence for the coming season will be announced in June.

The Education Pavilion will continue to hold classes for children and adults. The gallery there, now named for board member Linda Formo Brandes, will go on featuring talks and exhibits by visiting artists, and there’s also a plan to collaborate with local arts organizations, making the space available to them as well.

Stay tuned for new developments, and meanwhile — don’t miss the current exhibition, and a chance to chat with Gabrielle Bakker.

IF YOU GO: Gabrielle Bakker in studio through May 5. Artist talk 5:30-8 p.m. April 26. Exhibit on view to June 2. In the Education Pavilion, see an exhibit by San Diego artist David Adey through May 19. Lux’s 20th Anniversary Celebration and “Come As You Dare” Masquerade, is slated for May 19.

Next artist-in-residence: LA-based painter Tomory Dodge, June 15-July 14. Also: LITVAK Dance performances April 28-29 at UCSD’s Wagner Dance Building 3. Tickets: (619) 855-0367.

The LUX Art Institute is open 1-5 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 1550 S. El Camino Real, Encinitas. Admission: Free-$5. (760) 436-6611.

Excerpt from Reesey Shaw’s Parting Note

“I write with gratitude and hope as I share news of my transition from the Lux Art Institute after 20 years. The journey has been fuller than any of us could have envisioned ... We have set a legacy of excellence upon which others may build ...

“I am endlessly grateful to those who have supported these efforts, who love art and artists and who have shared my passion ... scores of visionary trustees and donors ... and ... a talented, hardworking staff who brought our vision to life. May your debt be repaid in the eyes of the children inspired every day on the Lux campus.”