THE MAIZE PROJECT, HAVE A NICE DAY, and BUILDING INTO SHADOWS at the Torrance Art Museum
Torrance, CA 90503
Main Gallery: Eric Johnson, The Maize Project
For his one-person exhibition at the Torrance Art Museum, Eric Johnson has created a large-scale sculpture, assembled from more than 300 individual cast polyester resin units. Standing on end, this work will rise 14 feet at the east end of the gallery.
Johnson envisions this piece as a symbolic, community lodge pole or gathering point. Accordingly, he asked people from all areas of his life to help in the fabrication of the work. A wide range of individuals took part in the process, from gallerists, curators, and collectors, to his personal friends and neighbors from the working class San Pedro neighborhood where his studio is located. Participants attended events at the artist's studio in which they created individual kernels, sometimes modifying the brightly colored resin by the inclusion of small objects, from decorative baubles and toys to more personal mementos. During the hours it takes for the resin to harden, attendees had a chance to get to know one another. This activity often resulted in the discovery of personal connections-and a stronger sense of community. The Maize Project exhibition will include photo documentation of the friends, family, and acquaintances that helped Johnson bring this major work to fruition.
About the artist: Eric Johnson has long been influenced by the California-based Finish Fetish and Light+Space art movements, for which industrial products became viable art materials. Johnson received his Master of Fine Arts degree from University of California, Irvine. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna Beach, Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, and the San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery. He has been featured in group exhibitions at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the University Art Gallery at UC San Diego, and the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach.
The Maize Project is accompanied by a 24-page catalog with an essay by Scarlet Cheng, writer on film and visual arts for the Los Angeles Times, and designed by Sunook Park, Director of ANDLab Design, Los Angeles. This catalog has been funded in part by a generous grant from the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation and would not have been possible without the support of the Torrance Cultural Arts Center Foundation. The Maize Project has received additional material and fabrication assistance from City Paints, San Francisco; Dan's Metal Cutting, Inc., Hawthorne; Modernica, Los Angeles; and True Value Hardware, Long Beach.
Gallery Two:· Marco Casentini, Have a Nice Day
For his solo exhibition in the Gallery Two project room, painter Marco Casentini reveals himself as the latest artist to succumb to the seductive charms of our state's "Sunshine Muse". Since the 1960's, the ambient light and colors of California have served as inspiration to many who have been transplanted here from elsewhere. In the vividly-colored, geometric abstractions of Have a Nice Day, Casentini invokes both the natural (elements of sunlight and water) and the manmade (as embodied in urban features such as vernacular architecture, billboards, and neon).
In 1996, Casentini made a trip from his native Italy to the Western United States and Mexico. The sense of lighthearted optimism he encountered here had a profound effect on his artwork, particularly in his choice of colors, which became strong and bright. This first trip inspired numerous extended stays in Southern California, culminating in the Casentini family's decision to relocate permanently to Hermosa Beach in 2008.
About the Artist: In 1984, Marco Casentini received a certificate in painting from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Carrara, Italy. His work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at Patrizia Buonanno Arte Contemporanea in Trento, Italy; Roy Boyd Gallery in Chicago; Scott White Contemporary Art in San Diego; Richard Levy Gallery in Albuquerque, NM; Brian Gross Fine Art in San Francisco; Galleria Obraz in Milan, Italy; and Ruth Bachofner Gallery in Santa Monica. He has been featured in group exhibitions at the Los Angeles World Airport, Los Angeles; One Post Street in San Francisco; the Centro Culturale di Milano, Milan, Italy; and the Tucson Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Arizona. Casentini was the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2005.
Have a Nice Day travels to the Torrance Art Museum from the Museum für Konkrete Kunst in Ingolstadt, Germany in January 2008. The exhibition is accompanied by a 135-page catalog with an essay by curator Dorothea Niggemeier of the Museum für Konkrete Kunst.
South Bay Focus: Mary Pichette, Building into Shadows
This exhibition, curated by Megan Hoetger, features work from South Bay artist Mary Pichette. In large-scale pastel drawings on paper, Pichette derives abstraction from observing nature and analyzing its shadows. Once recorded on paper, shadow patterns diverge from the natural world as the artist improvises colors and imposes organization on found shapes. Employing the emotive and formal power of shape as well as the vibrating effect of warm/cool color combinations, Pichette's organic abstractions investigate the perceptual possibilities of a non-objective visual language.
About the Artist: Carson resident Mary Pichette received her BA in Fine Arts in 1954 from University of California, Los Angeles where she studied painting under the West Coast abstractionists Jan Stussy and Robert White. Her work has been exhibited in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art rental galleries as well as numerous juried exhibitions across the South Bay.
Curator Kristina Newhouse talks with artist Marco Casentini
Thursday, September 25th, from 3 to 4 pm
Curator Kristina Newhouse talks with artist Eric Johnson
Thursday, October 2nd, from 3 to 4 pm
Assistant Curator Megan Hoetger talks with artist Mary Pichette
Wednesday, October 22nd, from 3 to 4 pm