The Laguna Art Museum exhibition satisfies the curiosity of an astronomer
One of the most anticipated events on the Laguna Art Museum calendar returned this month with the ninth installment of the Art and Nature showcase.
For nearly a decade, the museum has brought its clients closer to the intersection of art and the natural world. The projects presented have often involved outdoor exhibitions, but it was not without precedent that the thematic work was placed indoors.
Friends, family, students and art lovers came to the museum on November 4 to admire multimedia artist Rebeca Méndez’s “Any-Instant-Whatever,” the finished product of a work that began with capturing a time-sliced video of Los Angeles. sky during the winter two years ago.
Those standing in front of the four dozen video columns in the museum’s dark display room are mesmerized by the range of colors seen on the 15-by-39-foot panel. The panels display moving images, recognizable in large part from the clouds that form inside and move through the cameras’ focal point.
While each of the 48 columns shows the same 12-hour period on a loop, each is 15 minutes faster than its successor, allowing the viewer to see the changes in the sky from dawn to dusk.
Méndez in 2020 was appointed chair of the design media arts department at UCLA, a rise in her chosen field that might have been predicted given the intense focus she displayed in her youth.
An accomplished gymnast growing up, Méndez, now 59, was named to the Mexican national team that reportedly went to the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980. Mexico dismantled its gymnastics team for those Olympics after the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union.
Repetitive processes and rehearsals are at the heart of Méndez’s work ethic, which is evident in the commitment to filming entire days at a time.
“Some people have told me that I am exaggerating things,” Méndez said. “Two iterations for some people would be enough, but for me, I know that the more I do, the more I step into a place of refinement.”
The video sessions were held with the help of his university.
“I ended up filming at the Broad Art Center, which is home to UCLA’s design media arts department, and they gave me the key to the roof so I could go and film from the roof,” Méndez said. . “So I brought a rug, I brought my sleeping bags, I brought umbrellas because the sun was sometimes brutal. I filmed for hours and hours and days and days and days.
Jason Lee, a UCLA media arts alumnus and Méndez’s studio assistant, has also been involved in the cloud hunting activities.
“What was exciting was getting up on the roof of Broad at UCLA every morning,” Lee said. “It was such an awareness of the nature and the mood of the sky day to day, because we were really trying to capture all these different moments, really creating like a catalog of the sky.”
Yogan Muller, photography specialist and lecturer in media design arts, also helped capture video of the project.
“Everything-Instant-What” is a totally immersive experience. The exhibit invites viewers not only to observe the light spectrum and clouds observed over a 12-hour period when looking skyward, but it also has an audible component.
The calming sounds the visitor hears upon entering the exhibition hall are those created by composer Drew Schnurr, with whom Méndez has collaborated in the past. He produced the sounds using crystal bowls tuned with water.
“The science behind it all,” said Laguna Art Museum Executive Director Julie Perlin Lee. “There’s a part of this project that could go deeper into physics and talk about how light and color are made, and how light and color affect us.
“There is also a scientific basis to this piece, and Drew in his composition, he also reflects in this way on how sound waves work and occur. They are scientific artists at heart.
Méndez said she was due to speak to the museum about the project on January 15. Schnurr will also perform his composition at the event.
Contemplating the sky is something Méndez has been doing since she was a child, when she thought she might want to be an astronaut.
With his contribution to Art and Nature, Méndez invites people to consider the world and their place in it, as well as the impact of their behavior on other species.
The fact that the sky is accessible to all makes it a great equalizing and unifying force, and she believes that everyone has a role to play in taking care of not only themselves, but the planet as a whole.
“I think we absolutely have to understand that this is temporary,” Méndez said. “The beauty we see, the climate emergency comes down to one number, and that is the concentration of carbon in our atmosphere.”
“Everything-Instant-What” will be on display at the museum until April 25, as will the “Sky Space Time Change” exhibit, which features works of art from the museum’s permanent collection.
“I am a strong supporter and advocate of a museum, this is its collection, it is made up of its permanent collection,” said Perlin Lee. “We have a responsibility to show our works, and in different and new ways.
“Rebeca’s piece was inspiring because when I thought about her work it was monumental, breathtaking and singular, but we wanted to make sure that in the spirit of Art and Nature we reminded the audience that Californian artists have long been champions of the same ideas – of the beauty that surrounds us and to capture it.
“A Fanciful World: Jessie Arms Botke” is another exhibition presented during an extended window for the Art and Nature festival.
A display case of Botke’s paintings features exotic birds and flowers, including a 29-foot-long mural in its entirety. This exhibition will be on view until January 16.
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