The Frostig Collection
October 29, 2013 - January 5, 2014
Main Gallery & South Gallery Second Floor
Wells Fargo Gallery
Third Floor Galleries
Frostig at Large: The Artists of The Frostig Collection
The Frostig Collection is comprised of an expansive array of artwork by many of today's most compelling and well-known artists. The artists represented in the exhibition live and work in Los Angeles and have substantially contributed to the international reputation of arts in the region through their innovative use of concepts and materials, some of which were developed by the aerospace industry here in the Antelope Valley.
The Frostig Collection was created as a fundraising enterprise to support the Frostig Center and School, both global leaders in research and education of students with learning disabilities. Located in Pasadena, California, The Frostig Center is one of the few privately-funded non-profit organizations in the United States which is exclusively dedicated to investigating the causes and treatments of learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia along with ADHD, ADD, Asperger’s and high-functioning autism. Founded in 1951 by Marianne Frostig, Ph.D., a leader in education for children with learning disabilities, The Center has significantly changed the way children with learning disabilities are taught, which has resulted in helping them achieve satisfying and productive lives.
Frostig School parents created The Frostig Collection to expand the work of The Center and bring a much-needed social skills program to fruition, thereby further supporting the emotional health of the students. By donating their work, the distinguished artists of The Frostig Collection have significantly contributed to the development and advancement of specialized resources for children with learning disabilities, improving the lives of the students, their teachers and their families. These pioneering artists include: Lita Albuquerque, Charles Arnoldi, Gary Baseman, Larry Bell, Lynda Benglis, David Buckingham, Chris Burden, Guy Dill, Robert Graham, Frank Gehry, Brad Howe, Eric Johnson, Matt Johnson, Michael Kalish, Michael C. McMillen, Ed Moses, Gwynn Murrill, R. Kenton Nelson, Chris Piazza, Sarah Perry, Ken Price, Nancy Rubins, Alison Saar and Ray Turner.
Lou Swenson: Moving West
Lou Swenson has been making art for 50 years. His passion for photography began when his mother presented him with a Kodak Pony 135 camera the day he was deployed to serve on the frontlines of the Korean War. At every opportunity when not engaged in battle, he used this gift to capture images of his comrades and to calm the effects of active duty in a foreign land. A great loss to the art world and the visual history of the time, this transparency collection was lost during an overseas shipment, making images from this time impossible to reproduce and share with the world. His early creative inspiration came from Depression Era Life Magazine and war photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Eugene Smith and Henri Cartier-Bresson. As Swenson moved west, he was taken with the groundbreaking work of Ansel Adams and the pioneering California coastal photographers of the time.
After completing his military career, Swenson became a commercial photographer and studio owner in San Antonio, Texas. During that time, he earned a Master of Photography degree, built an extensive list of clients and won many awards at print competitions. Mastering the technical aspects of his craft and enjoying eleven years of successful commercial photography, Swenson shifted gears and returned to his roots in Colorado, where he established himself in the fine art of black and white photography. Drawn to the geographical and cultural diversity of the Four Corners region, he settled in Dolores, Colorado where he currently resides. The region has been his creative home for the past 29 years: traversing the back roads of the west, documenting treasures of open spaces, remnants of rural life and the marks of time on a rapidly changing society.
Swenson’s expertise in maximizing tonal variations, textures and shadow patterns across the landscapes and architecture of the west lies in photographing and printing black and white silver halide negatives in his home darkroom, a practice he continues as long as film, paper and chemicals are available. Like the landscape painters and photographers who traveled west with the tenets of Manifest Destiny and on the trails blazed by Lewis and Clark, Swenson utilized large format cameras to capture the inherent qualities of light, form and drama in the region. He began shooting with a 5 x 7 inch camera body then weaned himself down to a medium format 6 x 9 cm in order to reduce the cumbersome weight of these models while maintaining perspective control and maximizing tonal values, all of which are germane to representing the light and essence of the west. Swenson is a master in the art of composition, utilizing the basic principles of design and the rule of thirds to position his subjects within the frame. Swenson’s ability is apparent in how he captures the shift of a cloud in an expansive landscape, the depth of a shadow wrapping around a hand built pueblo or the intangible interior light of a dusty room in a forgotten ghost town. He is particularly fascinated with the change of seasons, when leaves begin to drop and reveal the underlying structure of trees and the inherent mood of a landscape. He notes: “when the snow begins to fall it creates a new and dynamic relationship between light and dark, texture and form, horizon and sky.” His works are sensuous and striking homages to the beauty of the region, where artists are still drawn to study and experience the dramatic landscapes and cultural heritage found in this quiet part of the world.
Bradford J. Salamon: Objectified
Objectify: verb (objectifies, objectifying, objectified)
1.To express (something abstract) in a concrete form: good poetry objectifies feeling. 2. To degrade to the status of a mere object: a deeply sexist attitude that objectifies women.
Bradford J. Salamon is widely regarded for his portraits of artists, writers and musicians who he invites into his studio to sit in his iconic orange chair, often for hours, as he observes and documents the intricacy of their humanity. His approach allows the artistic process to unfold as an unpredictable journey into the subject’s personality, where the painting unlocks a visual narrative unique to the time of the sitter’s life. The person becomes part of the art making process: as they bring to the chair their life stories of professional achievements and personal hardships, their bodies begin to sink into the chair, and over time their faces often collapse into fatigue. The pain of sitting for hours unoccupied by a task other than being there for the artist becomes apparent. For Salamon, this process captures the entire evolving narrative of the person and activates the canvas with the human condition. His process counteracts the tendency to objectify the model—as many portrait artists have done throughout the history of art—while also representing an abstraction of his model.
Salamon sees portraiture as an opening into life experiences he may never otherwise have had the opportunity to observe and notes that the process of painting people for extended periods of time provides a way of communicating and interacting with them on an entirely different level. He brings this humanizing approach to painting objects as well; objects such as rotary dial phones, vintage machinery, and toys. These portraits serve as a reminder of the power of invention and the purpose and aesthetic considerations that initially guided the object’s design. He notes:
“I will paint people forever, as they are always important to me. But my fascination with inanimate objects and the stories they tell bring me back to a different time when it makes me move into the mindset of a designer or inventor who thought with 1920 references. Old glass bottles, iconography, out-of-date sewing machines, their shapes and how they work stimulate me to see the world with fresh perceptions.”
Exploring the poetics of these vintage objects is a welcome challenge for the artist. Representing multiple surfaces as they interface with one another is no simple task for a painter: capturing the luminosity of glass against metal; the texture of time-worn wood overlaid with fading chrome; and the contrast of fabric and mesh with plastics all have their own character and qualities. The artist has plentiful objects from which to choose, especially due to the speed at which objects become obsolete, a phenomenon that intrigues the artist and keeps him inspired to paint on a daily basis.
Bradford J. Salamon has recreated his private studio at MOAH with the orange chair at the center of the installation. His studio—itself a series of objects from the artist’s life—is situated here as a place in which you may interact with him and become familiar with his process; a process that is unfolding in real time, as an unpredictable journey into the artist’s mind and method. While Mr. Salamon is not painting in the Museum, he consistently works in Los Angeles on painting commissions. He studied at The Art Institute of Southern California, Laguna Beach and trained extensively in Europe. His work has been shown and collected internationally.
Legacy: The Artists of the Open Studio
The Open Studio class began in January 2013 at the Museum of Art & History (MOAH) as a forum for the art community to draw and paint from a live model. The practice of life drawing provides a greater challenge in comparison to drawing from photographs. With the presence of a live model, often draped in multi-colored fabric and placed under focused lighting, artists are offered a variety of shapes and forms from which to sharpen their observation skills and articulate details of the human figure.
Open Studio takes place in the Hernando and Fran Marroquin Family Classroom and is led by local artist Renato de Guia. The success of Open Studio is found in Mr. de Guia’s accessible approach to cultivating the existing skill set of his students. He provides a safe place for experimentation as he looks for clues in the students’ work, then suggests practicing techniques in rendering, line quality and creating the illusion of volume. His students range in age from 17 to 74 with beginning to advanced skills. Novice students have the opportunity to observe and practice the techniques of some of the Antelope Valley’s finest and most established artists, providing a place for camaraderie and artistic growth among like-minded citizens.
Born in Manila, Philippines, Mr. de Guia’s early interest in drawing was ignited by the comic books that his aunt would send him as a child. He was taken by the style and technique of the comic artists, particularly Neil Adams, whose articulation of human anatomy was accurate and dynamic due to his training in life drawing. As a youngster, Mr. de Guia was constantly drawing, even during hospitalizations for a rare bone disease. He went on to earn his B.S. in Architecture from Kent State University, Ohio, another opportunity pursued to refine and utilize his drawing skills, all of which he applies to his teaching. Mr. de Guia has been practicing architecture and teaching art in the Antelope Valley for many years and was deeply involved with Allied Arts at Cedar Center. He is equally passionate about volunteering and contributing to the expansion of MOAH’s adult art education program. Renato de Guia’s artwork is accompanied by student work from Ulrica Bell, Betty Ermey, Geoffrey E. Levitt, Joanne McCubrey, Albert Miller, Julie Schuder, Nay Schuder and Adeline Wysong.
Christoff Van Kooning: Invertibles
Through his multi-dimensional sculpture series, Invertibles, Christoff Van Kooning sees his work as a poem of materials and a language of shapes and forms. With the use of many different materials, from stone and metal to Styrofoam and gold leaf, Van Kooning explores the space between positive and negative shapes and the visual interplay that is created when a series of shapes are cut from a large volume of material. His Invertibles are puzzle-like and playful compositions of interlocking and movable geometric shapes that reveal both the original source material and the skill of the sculptor. His objective is to release a lively series of shapes from the original material through a process of discovery. Although his work preserves the hard edges of his materials, his positive and negative shapes recall the minimalist sculptures of Henry Moore (1898 –1986) and Barbara Hepworth (1903 – 1975).
Christoff Van Kooning lives and works in Los Angeles. He studied classical sculpting methods in Italy before returning to the United States to work with David Hickey at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He continues to focus on minimalist art and testing the power of juxtaposing line and mass/volume in his work. His awareness of the qualities of repetition, duality and symmetry are easily recognizable in this installation of new work.