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Karla Wozniak, Strange Arrangement 3, 2017. Oil on canvas, 35 x 30 in. Courtesy of Gregory Lind Gallery.
FOCUS: California curator, Glen Helfand. Photo by Pascal Shirley.
FOCUS: California Curator, Kim Nguyen. Photo by Erik Hood.
Expanding upon 2017's FOCUS: Los Angeles, Art Toronto returns this year with FOCUS: California. The interactive exhibit featuring galleries from California will be curated by Kim Nguyen (Curator and Head of Programs at the CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco) and Glen Helfand (Associate Professor at California College of the Arts, San Francisco, independent writer and curator based in Oakland, California).
Curated by Glen Helfand and Kim Nguyen
“We only have two kinds of weather in California, magnificent and unusual.” ― James M. Cain, The Baby in the Icebox and Other Short Fiction
The shifting terrain and cultural landscape of California is the inspiration for INDOOR/OUTDOOR, the FOCUS: California exhibition for Art Toronto 2018. A state that is full of mythologies and truths about maverick ideas and various brands of free-thinking, California is now an international art powerhouse in the south and a world class tech region to the north. Throughout history it has operated as a site for both refuge and rebirth, contributing to its reputation as something akin to an island in America. At the heart of this state is growth—from the wildness of its landscape, to the bounty of its resources, to the boom of its cities. Across the state, artists, as well as galleries, are taking particularly bold, adventurous approaches to their crafts—reinventing, reprocessing, and transcending—while continuing to shape and transform the many versions of California that pervade our imaginations.
The Golden State is renowned for its light as well as its tonal contrasts between the sublime, subaltern, and seismic. Artists such as Larry Sultan and Terri Lowenthal each reveal landscapes that are intoxicating and illusory as they chart histories of photography and the psychedelic; Karla Wozniak applies an eye-popping palette to portray lush environments as psychological spaces, ones capable of fantastic experiences; Christine Wang delves into celebrity and throwaway culture, considering the fallacies of aspiration and its connection to desire and emotional conflict; while Ramiro Gomez challenges the bright sensuality of David Hockney’s early works by inserting the invisible labour instrumental to constructing the immaculate veneer of Southern California.
The exhibition is bracketed by Rick Prelinger’s Lost Landscapes of Los Angeles and San Francisco, experimental documentaries comprised of rediscovered and largely unseen archival film footage. The films portray the regional histories of these cities as shown in industrial films and home movies, presenting a unique compilation of the everyday lives and hidden histories that contribute to the mythologies of California.
Driven by this tension between fact and fiction, the works in INDOOR/OUTDOOR are, much like the state of California itself, filled with glamour, provocation, and the pursuit of an alternate existence.
In addition to the exhibition, FOCUS: California also includes the participation of ten leading galleries and exhibitors from California:
Colpa Press (San Francisco)
CULT | Aimee Friberg Exhibitions (San Francisco)
Electric Works (San Francisco)
Et al. (San Francisco)
Exploratorium (San Francisco)
Charlie James Gallery (Los Angeles)
Casemore Kirkeby (San Francisco)
Gregory Lind Gallery (San Francisco)
Night Gallery (Los Angeles)
Royale Projects (Los Angeles)
Additional Californian galleries that will participate in Art Toronto’s MAIN section include:
all weather: three projects in the California landscape
Saturday, October 27, 2:30 PM
Art Toronto Stage
Glen Helfand is an independent writer, critic, curator, and educator. His writing about art, film, and culture has appeared in many publications including Artforum, The Guardian, Aperture, Photograph and SFMOMA Open Space. His most recent catalog essays have appeared in Cary Liebowitz: Museum Show (Contemporary Jewish Museum), and Art AIDS America, (Tacoma Art Museum). He’s Associate Professor in the graduate fine arts department at California College of the Arts, where he teaches courses on contemporary art. He also teaches in the graduate and undergraduate art programs at Mills College. He has curated exhibitions for the MH De Young Museum, San Francisco; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; Mills College Art Museum, Oakland; San Jose Museum of Art; the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena; Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco; the Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute; Dust Gallery, Las Vegas; Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco; and Fused Space, San Francisco; among others. Born in the San Fernando Valley, he currently lives in Oakland, California.
Kim Nguyen is a curator and writer based in San Francisco, where she is Curator and Head of Programs at the CCA Wattis Institute. From 2011-2016, Nguyen was director and curator of Artspeak, a longstanding artist-run non-profit in Vancouver, Canada. Her writing has appeared in exhibition catalogues and periodicals nationally and internationally, with recent texts in catalogues published by Pied-à-Terre (San Francisco), Gluck 50/Mousse (Milan), and the Herning Museum of Art (Denmark). Nguyen is the recipient of the 2015 Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Emerging Curators in Contemporary Canadian Art and the 2016 Joan Lowndes Award from the Canada Council for the Arts for excellence in critical and curatorial writing. She is currently completing her first collection of writings.