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6_plainer_opening 2_flourish_install_shot 3_it_figures_install_shot 4_megan_geckler_piece 5_nancy_braver_plastic 7_systems_theory_install 1_constance_mallinson_and_people_ Tam_exterior 1-drew_dominick
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
Plainer Opening at Torrance Art Museum, Plainer Opening at Torrance Art Museum
© Courtesy of TAM
Flourish (installation shot), Flourish (installation shot),
Torrance Art Museum
© Courtesy of TAM
It Figures (installation shot), It Figures (installation shot),
Torrance Art Museum
© Courtesy of TAM
Fill It Up and Pour It Down the Inside, Megan GecklerMegan Geckler,
Fill It Up and Pour It Down the Inside,
October 2006
© Courtesy of TAM
Plastics, Nancy BraverNancy Braver, Plastics,
Exhibition Opening, October 2005
© Courtesy of TAM
Systems Theory (installation shot), Systems Theory (installation shot),
Torrance Art Museum
© Courtesy of TAM
See the World, Constance MallinsonConstance Mallinson, See the World,
Plainer Exhibition opening, Torrance Art Museum
© Courtesy of TAM
Torrance Art Museum (exterior shot), Torrance Art Museum (exterior shot)
© Courtesy of TAM
Hunter\'s Showcase #2 , Drew DominickDrew Dominick, Hunter's Showcase #2 ,
2006, Display cabinet, found photographs, wax, hot glue, It Figures, Torrance Art Museum, January 2007
© Drew Dominick
From left: Kali, Siren, and Medusa , Annie BuckleyAnnie Buckley,
From left: Kali, Siren, and Medusa ,
All 2006, Photo collage in light box (Lightjet print on Duratrans), It Figures, Torrance Art Museum, January 2007
© Annie Buckley
Valedictorian (detail), Joe BielJoe Biel, Valedictorian (detail),
2006, Site specific wall drawing: watercolor and latex paint, It Figures, Torrance Art Museum, January 2007
© Joe Biel
A Female Neanderthal and I , Holly ToppingHolly Topping, A Female Neanderthal and I ,
2005, Oil on canvas over panel, It Figures, Torrance Art Museum, January 2007
© Courtesy of Angles Gallery, Santa Monica
Arabesque Wall , Faris McReynoldsFaris McReynolds, Arabesque Wall ,
2006, Oil on canvas, It Figures, Torrance Art Museum, January 2007
© Courtesy of Roberts and Tilton Gallery, Los Angeles
Table Top , Michael Barton MillerMichael Barton Miller, Table Top ,
2006, Graphite on paper, W 14 ” x H 21”
© Michael Barton Miller
Untitled, Hillary BleeckerHillary Bleecker, Untitled,
Ballpoint pen on paper, Drawn In: Drawing in Residence, Phase III, A project by Marcy Freedman
© Torrance Art Museum, January 2007
COMMAND Z, Curated by: Ted Fisher and Douglas McCulloh , Installation ShotInstallation Shot,
COMMAND Z, Curated by: Ted Fisher and Douglas McCulloh ,
Torrance Art Museum, March 2007
Talking Walls (2005), Jody ZellenJody Zellen, Talking Walls (2005),
Website (, COMMAND Z, Curated by: Ted Fisher and Douglas McCulloh , Torrance Art Museum, March 2007
Swimming Fish Duet , Diane ReevesDiane Reeves, Swimming Fish Duet ,
2006, Photographs and mixed media, Duets, Torrance Art Museum, March 2007
Installation shot, Maggie Lowe TennesenMaggie Lowe Tennesen, Installation shot,
Spatiotemporal Variability, March 2007, Torrance Art Museum
Angels Gate 4, Philippa BlairPhilippa Blair, Angels Gate 4,
Oil on Canvas, 2007, Torrance Art Museum, September 2007, Themes and Variations: New Abstraction in Los Angeles
© Philippa Blair
On the Beach, On the Beach,
Oil on Canvas over Panel, 2007, Torrance Art Museum, September 2007, Themes and Variations: New Abstraction in Los Angeles
© Brad Eberhard
Untitled, Pamela JordenPamela Jorden, Untitled,
Oil on Linen, 2007, Torrance Art Museum, Themes and Variations: New Abstraction in Los Angeles
© Pamela Jorden
Themes and Variations: New Abstraction in Los Angeles, David McDonald, Michelle Fierro, Eric ZammittDavid McDonald, Michelle Fierro, Eric Zammitt,
Themes and Variations: New Abstraction in Los Angeles,
September 2007
Square 73, Yong SinYong Sin, Square 73,
Tape and Acrylic on Panel, 2007, Rule Out, September 2007, Torrance Art Museum
© Yong Sin
A Girl Apart (detail), Carol EsCarol Es, A Girl Apart (detail),
2007, Site specific installation: straight pins and thread
© Carol Es
Kristina Newhouse is a contemporary art curator and writer. Since 2003, she has been an editor at X-tra Contemporary Art Quarterly. She has curated exhibitions at the Torrance Art Museum, the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design, the IX Bienal Internacional de Cuenca, in Cuenca, Ecuador, and many other venues.[more]

Interview with Kristina Newhouse

The ArtSlant Team visited with Kristina Newhouse when she had a few free minutes at the Torrance Art Museum (and those minutes are hard to come by!).  Newhouse has been the curator at TAM for several years and has created and produced countless exhibitions for them.  In addition, Newhouse is an active writer within the California art world.  During the visit, Kristina discussed her career, her influences, and her commitment to curating.

Kristina Newhouse with works by Joe Biel and Drew Dominickin; Courtesy of Kristina Newhouse

Georgia Fee:  How did you begin your curation career?   

Kristina Newhouse:  While getting an MFA at California State University, Long Beach, I realized I was not destined to be a studio artist. I was encouraged by the faculty to go into art history; however that discipline did not feel close enough to artmaking for me. I wanted to retain my affinities with artists and my empathy for their process. It occurred to me that by becoming a curator, I could have the closeness to artists I craved and make good use of my skills sets. Moreover, placing artworks and creating conversations between them satisfies my creative "jones".

GF: What was the first show you curated?  

KN:  I belonged to a cooperative art group called 34 Degrees. The first show I curated was with this group. It was called "Sprawledou(b)t" and took place at the old CSULB Art Department Galleries.

GF: What was your favorite show?

KN:  That's kind of like asking a parent to name her favorite child! Really, every show is my favorite the week it opens! 

GF:  If you could buy any art you wished, what would you own?  

KN:  Yayoi Kusama's Fireflies on the Water (2002).   

GF:  What are the greatest moments in curating?  

KN:  Meeting with artists in their studios and delving into the "hows" and "whys" of their practice (intended and unintended). Another biggie is the week of opening up artwork and beginning to set the show-it is as joyful as Christmas morning every time. And then the hard work begins!

GF: How have you approached the exhibition program at TAM (Torrance Art Museum)?    

KN:  Because the Museum is a city-operated community art space, I try to strike a balance between the needs of the people in Torrance and the South Bay and my interest in advocating the contemporary art coming out of Southern California. I have three exhibition spaces, so for each exhibition cycle I try to have at least one show that operates within the comfort zone of the community, while balancing it against something more challenging in the other rooms.

GF:  How do you decide upon the shows, the artists, the ideas behind your exhibitions?

KN:  As I do not yet have a board to satisfy, I have been able to get away with having my process be pretty organic. Usually the idea for a group exhibition comes to me through a process of association. Typically I have found some point of connection between artists on an unconscious level. Once I am aware of the connection, I try to "name" it.

GF: How do you see curation as an "artistic" practice?

KN:  Curation is about drawing associations between things, formally and conceptually. The exhibition, the room itself, becomes a kind of composition. At its most interesting, it is highly creative.

GF: Have you any recommendations for up-and-coming curators or critics? 

KN:  For up-and-coming curators, I would say do as much of it as you can in as many kinds of spaces as you can. I once did a window-display kind of exhibition at the Del Amo Mall-it was a tremendous amount of fun to watch how people responded to art in the banal atmosphere of a shopping mall. I measured the success of the show in the number of greasy fingerprints and nose smudges I had to wipe from the glass each week.

Suggested readings?  I would say:  "Words of Wisdom: A Curator's Vade Mecum" (this book really reveals the various agendas lurking beneath curation. You are bound to enjoy the remarks of some curators and be totally offended by others), "Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space" by Brian O'Doherty and Thomas McEvilley (a classic) and, of course, the last few issues of Artforum, with the "battle royale" being waged on the editorial pages between Robert Storr,  Okwui Enwezor, and others about the last Venice Biennale.

GF: Lastly, you've been curating and writing about art in Southern California for quite a while.  In a couple of sentences, or a string of words, can you talk a bit about your perception of the "Southern California" art scene? 

KN:  Seems like there has always been a sense of LA attempting to "catch up" to New York. While our gallery network is still not as vast, Los Angeles has certainly become a major global art center. You see it in the proliferation of LA based shows like "Los Angeles 1955-1985: Birth of an Art Capital" at the Pompidou. You also see it in the choices made by young artists who have not graduated from the local art schools-those people from the Yale, Chicago Art Institute, Cranbrook, etc.--who have weighed their choices and opted to settle in Los Angeles rather than New York. Right now, the talent pool here is very deep and wide! It is quite exciting!

ArtSlant would like to thank Kristina Newhouse for her assistance in making this interview possible.

--  Georgia Fee


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