The museum hosts a lively conversation between friends and colleagues John Mason and Jeff Kelley. Los Angeles artist John Mason has been a fixture in the Southern California art scene since 1949. Author and art critic Jeff Kelley has written extensively for Artforum, Art in America, and the Los Angeles Times, and is currently working on a book of Allan Kaprow’s 1988 retrospective Precedings at the Center for Research in Contemporary Art. Kelley has been a friend of John Mason since 1979, and has written about his work on several occasions. This program coincides with the special exhibition of John Mason’s Blue Wall at Laguna Art Museum.
Born in Madrid, Nebraska in 1927, Mason enrolled at the Otis Art Institute (then the Los Angeles County Art Institute) in 1949. Two years later, his interest in ceramics led him to serve as a teaching assistant at Chouinard Art Institute, after which he returned to Otis, working closely with Peter Voulkos. Mason also taught classes at UC Berkeley, where Voulkos became a faculty member, and at Pomona College in Claremont, before accepting a teaching position at UC Irvine in 1967, founding the ceramics department. Mason showed with the Ferus Gallery from 1957 until its closure in 1966. He continues to live and work in Los Angeles. Notable exhibitions of his work have taken place at the Pasadena Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Hudson River Museum.
A practicing art critic since 1977, Jeff Kelley has written reviews and essays for such publications as Artforum, Art in America, and the Los Angeles Times. He was the first director of the Center for Research in Contemporary Art at the University of Texas at Arlington and taught at the University of California, Berkeley. Kelley edited Allan Kaprow’s Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life, (1993) and authored Childsplay: The Art of Allan Kaprow, (2004) both for the University of California Press. From 1998 to 2008 he was the Consulting Curator of Contemporary Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, where he developed the museum’s contemporary exhibitions and publications programs. Kelley also curated the popular and critically acclaimed Half-Life of a Dream: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Logan Collection for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2008. In the past several years, he has written about artists Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiaodong and is currently working on a book of Allan Kaprow’s 1988 retrospective, Precedings, at the Center for Research in Contemporary Art. He lives in Oakland, California.