September 24, 2010 - Santa Barbara Museum of Art - Reframing America
September 24, 2010

Reframing America

Tony de los Reyes, “1851,” 2009.
Ink and oil on linen.*

Reframing America

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Reframing America
Fall Exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Reframing America is the unifying theme for five exhibitions that address, each in an idiosyncratic way, the vision and concept of America. Taking inspiration from Van Wyck Brooks’ influential 1918 essay, On Creating a Useable Past, this collection of exhibitions imagine America as a place as well as an idea, with a past, present, and future.

Stranger Than Fiction: Narrative in Works by Selected Contemporary Artists
September 18, 2010 – January 2, 2011

Stranger Than Fiction features many emerging, Southern California artists whose inspiration rises from both fact and fiction, and the surprising results of the conflation of the two. References to literature, history, allegory, and fantasy converge in these works, posing new fictions and realities, and challenging the fine line between both. Archetypal American subjects dominate these works, ranging in reference from colonial history, to religious iconography, to 1970s literature and comics, and to contemporary film and pop music. Artists include Eric Beltz, Dawn Clements, Erin Cosgrove, Noah Davis, Kerry James Marshall, Aaron Morse, Allison Schulnik, Jeni Spota, Devin Troy Strother, Frohawk Two Feathers, and Nicolau Vergueiro.

Chasing Moby-Dick: Selected Works by Tony de los Reyes
September 18, 2010 – January 2, 2011

Since 2005, Tony de los Reyes has been obsessed with what is commonly referred to as the Great American Novel—Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851). Referencing Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism—movements associated with rugged individualism and “pure” materiality—in paintings from dark inks and bronze sculptures, the artist adeptly suggests the complex multiple perspectives in Melville’s narrative. Yet the most powerful effect of this work is its examination of the epic tale as a mythic vision of America. The artist’s distinctive comparisons of Ahab and the U.S. enhance the insatiable and potentially self-destructive nature of both.

Yosemite: Then and Now
October 2, 2010 – January 23, 2011

From traditional landscape views made by Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge in the 1860s, to modern abstractions by David Stroup and Kate Jordahl, Yosemite is both sublime subject and spiritual metaphor. Works in this exhibition demonstrate not only the changing medium of photography but also the changing perception of this iconic national park.

Drawing from the Museum’s large collection of photography, works range from 1860-2004 and include mammoth-plate images by 19th-century pioneers, recognized 20th-century views by Ansel Adams, and 21st-century time-lapse images by Trevor Paglen.

An American Century: 20th-Century Master Drawings from the Collection
October 9, 2010 – January 2, 2011

Highlighting the Museum’s extensive collection of works on paper, this exhibition reveals the exceptional and varied ways in which artists of the last century have contributed to the development of a uniquely American style. Featuring more than 75 works, a prominent theme is the realities of urban life, found in works by early Ashcan realists and radical New York modernists. Works include intimate drawings by Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler, and Charles Demuth, as well as major works by John Stewart Curry, Charles Burchfield, and William James Glackens. Modernists are represented by Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Milton Avery, and Joseph Stella; and California artists range from Arthur Matthew to Larry Bell.

American Modernism: Selections from the Permanent Collection
October 9, 2010 – January 2, 2011

This exhibition examines the ways in which American artists and audiences experienced modernity in the crucial period between the World Wars. During this period, rapid changes in technology, cultural fashions, mass media, and from economic upheavals erased much of 19th-century America from everyday experience. Works vary from Georgia O’Keeffe’s stark image of a dead tree to Annie Brigman’s photographs of female nudes; and from Marion Post Wolcott’s dancers to Walt Kuhn’s Trude, a vaudeville performer. Featured also is the work of Alfredo Ramos Martinez, who negotiated a career between Mexico and the United States—an indigenous past and Southern Californian realities.

*Image above:
Collection of Guy and Nora Barron.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

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