“ALL MEDIA 2021” at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, comprised of 58 art pieces by Southern California artists, presents artworks in a range of styles and techniques. Yet these pieces, created primarily in 2020 and 2021, reflect the panoply of styles and moods of SoCal contemporary art during our new millennia. They range from the sublime to the challenging, from realism to figurative, to cubist-inspired, to abstract and Light and Space, among other styles and genres. Media includes painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, ceramics, quilting, video and installation.
Curator Taylor Bythewood-Porter has created a fresh and vibrant display of disparate works, enticing viewers to gaze for long periods at individual pieces and at the installations. As assistant curator at the California African American Museum, she holds a Master of Arts degree from Claremont Graduate University.
One of the most outstanding paintings in the show is Alexander Arshansky’s painting “Justice.” Created in a style known as “biomorphic cubism,” the Russian-born artist combines abstract with organic or living forms, resulting in portraits containing layers linked through symbolism, intricate patterns and bright primary colors. The curator explains that this and other pieces in the “Just-Us” category echo today’s social justice movements. The fractured cubist aspects of Arshansky’s painting reflect the divisive characteristics of the world today.
Maurice Cassidy’s “Secret,” hung next to “Justice,” is a cubist-influenced portrait, painted in bright fauve colors. The artist explains: “I met Secret while she was still Keven, and when she killed herself last year I was furious at her for doing so. As I painted her, she reminded me of all the good times we shared; she whispered to me; ‘you can’t possibly stay mad at me.’ She still makes me laugh.” “Secret” is in the “Cravings” category, which Bythewood-Porter says contains “an exploratory focus on obsession-based compulsion, addiction, and the desire of basic human needs.” “Number One in LA” by Hedy Torres, also in this category, shows a homeless person sleeping on a bench, covered with a flag. The artist explains, “My work primarily addresses the lack of people representation in this country – my most recent art pieces question who is more susceptible to be homeless in America.”
In a rear gallery, six artworks under the category, “Line and Space,” are described by the curator as “taking on the feeling of ethereality, the integration of psychology, and exploration of material.” These include Eric Moore’s “7.2021,” a gray and white circular art piece, made of acrylic paint, resin and clear coat on aluminum panel, inspired by the California Light and Space movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. Nearby, Steffani Bailey’s “Rock apart, leaves fall” in oil on wood is an abstract assemblage construction in autumn colors, perhaps referencing the fall season. Also in this gallery, “Late Bloomer” by Irvine based Mark Leysen, an example of the artist’s well-known abstract expressionist style, reveals color and rhythm, along with geometric forms providing balance and harmony.
The “To The Ends of the Earth” category in this show addresses humanity’s relationship with the environment, and contains primarily abstract pieces created in a variety of media. Ted Rigoni’s “Sojourn,” painted in very dark pigment, foretells of a world flung into darkness. Stephanie Leonard’s oil, “State of Matter, Flight” suggests a proliferation of smoke filling the sky. And in the category, “Blurred Boundaries,” the photo, “Street Life, Tlaxcala, Mexico” by James Kuo depicts an extended homeless family living in an alley.
The “Homelike” category, generating “conversations about our connections to the home, efforts toward feeling protected,” as the curator explains, contains eight pieces addressing sentimental yearnings for home. Julia Alexander-Bates’ acrylic “Palms, Vines, and Pink Straws” is a large bucolic landscape of a garden. Lua Kobayashi’s “Who’s There” is a photo of a dimly lit, yet welcoming room. The nearby “We Always See With Memory” category, expressing “a semblance of memory through hazy or deconstructed imagery,” includes Anna Carey’s “Green Lantern Chateau,” a photo of an abandoned inn set in a large field.
Much of the work in this stunning exhibition by emerging to established artists, incorporating many styles and media, reflect our world since the lockdown. As the pieces are so powerful, these artists’ messages will continue to reverberate as we evolve into a new state of health.
Other artists participating in this exhibition are Elizabeth Abaravich, Valentina Aproda, Nurit Avesar, Renee Azenaro, Gretchen Batcheller, Aurora Bewicke, Arezoo Bharthania, Allegra Bick-Maurischat, Raymond Bonavida, Becky Brinkley, Micki Brown, Carolina Brunet, Michael Chesler, Ashoke Chhabra, Helen Cox, Cindy Craig, Beth Davila Waldman, Mika Denny, Carlos Diaz, Luz Mariel Donahue, Pam Douglas, Margaret Jo Feldman, Paul Gardner, Cyrus Ghalambor, Sofia Gonzalez, Bria Goodall, Carolyn Harper, Randi Hokett, Francesca Hummler, Bahar Jalehmahmoudi, Rachel Leising Soo, Michele Little, John Lorenz. Shahin Massoudi, Deborah McAfee, Brenda Munguia, May Roded, Ziba Safavian, Lori Stanford, Amanda St. Claire, Chris Stoltz, Stephen Thornhill, Christa Toole, Linda Wald, Sydney Walters and Jerry Weems.
“All Media 2021” is on view through September 19 at Irvine Fine Arts Center; Mon.-Thu., 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free. www.cityofirvine.org/irvine-fine-arts-center/current-exhibitions.