2018 FOCUS

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.

FOCUS: California

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). 


Luke Butler, Janet Delaney, Woody de Othello, Kota Ezawa, Ramiro Gomez, Margie Livingston, Terri Loewenthal, Karen Lofgren, Jacqueline Sherlock Norheim, Patrick Martinez, Rick Prelinger, Alan Rath, Gabriella Sanchez, Chris Sollars, Larry Sultan, Christine Wang, Kandis Williams, Suné Woods, Karla Wozniak 

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 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 Terry Lowenthal 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 and immaculate veneer of Southern California by inserting the invisible labour that is instrumental to its construction.

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.

FOCUS Exhibitors

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)
EUQINOM Gallery (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:

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles (Los Angeles)
Anat Ebgi (Los Angeles)
Hosfelt Gallery (San Francisco)
Jessica Silverman Gallery (San Francisco)

FOCUS Panel Discussion

all weather: three projects in the California landscape
Saturday, October 27, 2:30 PM
Art Toronto Stage

Matthew Schum, curator, Desert X
Suné Woods, artist
Karla Wozniak, artist
Moderated by Glen Helfand

There are various Californias, geographical and psychological states that reflect the diversity of the culture. With three projects rooted in the state, this panel will illuminate ways in which the north, south, and desert inspire artistic sensibilities and possibilities. Born in Berkeley, California, Karla Wozniak’s painting practice incorporates the bold colors and sense of light that are so present in the Bay Area, as well as a very particular kind of domestic life available there. Her paintings concentrate on pleasures and ironies of the indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Suné Woods, born in Montreal, completed her MFA studies at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Recently featured in Made in L.A. at the Hammer Museum, her work looks at various notions of intimacy, and the loving and violent interactions that play out in personal and public spaces. She has shot video works in healing mineral hot springs, places of geological and metaphysical relevance in Southern California. Stretching east and south from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea, the Coachella Valley has long been considered a powerful location and sacred indigenous site and home. It is also the site of Desert X, a ‘site-specific biennial’ that debuted in 2017 (with artists including Doug Aitken, Lita Albequerque and Jeffrey Gibson) and will return in 2019 to further investigate the vast, strange, and sometimes contradictory world of the urban desert. Curator Matthew Schum will offer insights into the approach and program to come in 2019. Presentations will be followed by moderated discussion.


Matthew Schum (PhD) is a writer based in Los Angeles and curator (with Amanda Hunt) of Desert X 2019. He has taught art history at the University of California San Diego, the Willem de Kooning Academy, Otis College of Art, NYU Steinhardt, Cal State Bakersfield, and is currently a lecturer at Cal State Long Beach. Institutional exhibition work includes MoMA, the Walker Art Center and the Vancouver Art Gallery. From 2012 to 2015 he served as Curator at LAXART. In 2015 Schum initiated a series of exhibitions scaling the colonial interior of the U.S. along the Mississippi River, entitled the MYSYSYPYN. Curatorial residencies include SALT, Istanbul, Cura, Bodrum, and Forest Island, Mammoth Lakes. He has edited several artist catalogs, including a monograph for filmmaker-artist Mark Boulos (2017, Hatje Cantz), and written on contemporary art for Aperture, Artforum, Flash Art, Mousse,Witte de With Review and X-TRA.

Suné Woods is an artist living in Los Angeles. Her work takes the form of video installations, photographs, and collage that examine absences and vulnerabilities within cultural and social histories. She has participated in residencies at Headlands Center of the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, and Light Work. Woods is a recipient of the Visions from the New California initiative, The John Gutmann Fellowship Award, and The Baum Award for an Emerging American Photographer.  Her work was recently included in Made in L.A. 2018 at The Hammer Museum. Woods has served as Visiting Faculty in the CalArts Photography & Media Program, Vermont College of Fine Arts Visual Art Program, and has mentored fellows and organized lectures with at land’s edge, a platform for visual research and catalyst for decolonial thought and action in Los Angeles and is currently a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard.

Karla Wozniak received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA from the Yale School of Art. Recent exhibitions include solo exhibitions at the Schneider Museum in Ashland, Oregon, and the Gregory Lind Gallery in San Francisco, as well as group shows at the Knoxville Museum of Art in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Regina Rex in New York City, among other venues. Wozniak’s distinctions include a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship; participation in the Bronx Museum Artist in the Marketplace program; participation in the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program; and two MacDowell Colony fellowships. Her work has been featured in a number of publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, Village Voice, and The Huffington Post, among others. Her work is included in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Knoxville Museum of Art permanent collections. Wozniak is currently an Assistant Professor at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

Meet the Curators

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.