Museum of Contemporary Art promises new show will be Phenomenal

From museum reports

A look at 13 artists working in Los Angeles in the 1960s and ‘70s, whose perceptual investigations and use of light and innovative materials helped define an era of art making in California, opens Sept. 25 at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Organized by curator Robin Clark with museum director Hugh M. Davies, who are calling it “our most ambitious exhibition to date,” “Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface” will be on view through Jan. 22 at MCASD’s two locations in La Jolla and downtown San Diego.

“Phenomenal” features the art of Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, Ron Cooper, Mary Corse, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, John McCracken, Bruce Nauman, Eric Orr, Helen Pashgian, James Turrell, De Wain Valentine and Doug Wheeler.

“We have a long history with all of these artists, perhaps longer than any other contemporary art institution in Southern California,” Davies said. “We have shown the artists since they emerged in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and are immensely gratified to be presenting them again as part of the largest exhibition in our history.”

Combining key works from the museum’s collection with major loans from prominent public and private collections, the exhibition includes immersive light installations together with rare, ephemeral, and site-conditioned works, some seen in California for the first time in decades, according to curators.

“Phenomenal” will be accompanied by an illustrated catalog co-published by MCASD and University of California Press. “Due to the generosity of the participating artists and their estates, each of whom have opened their studios and archives to this project, the book is the most comprehensive publication in MCASD’s history, and something we hope will be valuable to researchers and general audiences for years to come,” said curator Clark.

“Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface” is part of an initiative called “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980,” a collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California, which collectively tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene. Initiated through grants from the Getty Foundation. PST will take place for six months beginning in October.

MCASD’s La Jolla galleries will feature works by Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, Ron Cooper, Robert Irwin, John McCracken, Bruce Nauman, Eric Orr, Helen Pashgian, James Turrell, De Wain Valentine and Doug Wheeler. In addition to light environments, sculpture, and paintings, the La Jolla presentation includes a selection of drawings by the artists, offering an unusual glimpse into their working process, and examples of ideas for projects realized and unrealized.

If you go


‘Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface’


Sept. 25-Jan. 22. Closed Wednesdays. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays-Tuesdays, to 7 p.m. Thursdays


Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect St., La Jolla, (858) 454-3541. 1100 & 1001 Kettner Blvd., downtown San Diego, (858) 454-3541.




Pacific Standard Time events


Related events:

• Sept. 24: Curator Robin Clark leads exhibition tour 11:30 a.m. MCASD Downtown; VIP Opening Party 7 p.m. MCASD La Jolla. No-host cocktails, guided tours, art activities; free for members; admission $20.

• Oct. 20: 7 p.m. Jeremy Woodall and Thom Demello discuss challenges while installing Phenomenal. Program falls on a Free Third Thursday; tour the exhibition for free 5-7 p.m.

• Nov. 3: 7-10 p.m. TNT (Thursday Night Thing) at MCASD Downtown

• Nov. 5: Public symposium at MCASD La Jolla with catalog authors Michael Auping, Robin Clark, Stephanie Hanor, Adrian Kohn, and Dawna Schuld, plus Tom Learner, Getty Conservation Institute scientist, and Andrew Perchuk, deputy director Getty Research Institute.