Provoking Change: University Art Gallery hosts its Fall 2017 show

University Art Gallery (UAG) at UC San Diego is still open and going strong. It has exhibition funds for the 2017-2018 academic year, but after that, its fate is uncertain. The Visual Arts Department took steep budget cuts this year, and administration is pushing to turn the gallery into a classroom.

For more than 50 years, UAG was the only place you could see important contemporary work. Over the years, many show openings were packed with La Jolla art-lovers. Coming to see the current show, “Provoking Change: A Visual Arts Alumni Exhibition,” and signing the guest book is a good way to acknowledge UAG’s longstanding value and contributions to our community and culture. “Provoking Change” will be on display through Dec. 7.

Visual Arts MFA alumnus David Avalos returned to show his work, inviting in his entire extended family to the opening night reception, Oct. 12. Avalos spent most of his time retaking photographs of his nieces and nephews, which he first shot 25 years ago for his mis*ce*ge*Nation Project

Exhibit curator Tatiana Sizonenko tirelessly explained the works on display to all who were curious. “This show celebrates some 16 artists who came to study at UCSD from the early 1970s through the 1990s,” she said. “They all shared a desire to foster change by challenging the avant-garde canon of the ’60s. They made art that introduced multicultural voices, pointed out women’s under-representation in the arts, and revealed the pressing histories of immigration, class and racism.”

The show includes a colorful couch and wall hanging titled “Turkish Delight,” by Kim MacConnel, and a large blue wall shroud “Big Blue Chador,” by Robert Kushner — both pioneers of the Pattern and Decoration Movement. Also in the show are two paintings characterized by layered brushstrokes and drippy paint, from Hung Liu; a huge canvas of cows in a field, depicting the environmental impact of the agro business by Jean Lowe; and two paintings of family members by Heidi Hardin.

There are also two photo-text installations by Fred Lonidier and Allan Sekula, plus a pile of canvas-covered foam automobile tires by Brian Dick, who at one time turned his car and his room at home into art projects for public viewing. Dick, like a lot of artists in the show, was just following Allen Kaprow, founder of “art happenings,” with the dictum to “turn art into life and life into art.”

In the back viewing room, there’s a video loop running titled “Waiting at the Soda Fountain,” by Susan Mogul. It’s a feminist parody of being “discovered” in Hollywood.

Eli Eshel, a senior in the computer science department who works for the art department, served as the reception attendant. “I really like this show because of the diversity of creative media platforms — there is video, wall hangings, textual material, paintings, photographs and sculpture,” he said. Other guests nodded in agreement.

Two events related to the exhibition are planned in the gallery: Artist Susan Mogul will present “Pomp and Circumstance, Art & Life,” 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 and Becky Cohen will screen her film, “She is Fierce: The Art of Joyce Cutler-Shaw,” 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14. Cutler-Shaw was the first Artist-in-Residence at UCSD School of Medicine.

IF YOU GO: UAG is on the west end of Mandeville Center on UCSD campus and is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday. Free Admission. (858) 822-7755.