EYE ON ART: Three In One At Long Beach Museum Of Art
Three concurrent and diverse exhibits have been mounted at the Long Beach Museum of Art; diverse yet all convey the personal expressions of the artists’ experiences.
The exhibits, two mixed media and a portrait show, will be on display until Jan. 6. They are Jane Brucker, Fragile Thoughts; Narsiso Martinez: Farm Fresh; and John Sonsini — Daywork: Portraits.
Fragile Thoughts is an exploration of the artist’s history, mortality and fragility over a period of 25 years. Brucker combines found objects and heirlooms with other materials, such as textiles, wood, glass, paper, text and metals to create works that resonant with her spirit and sensibilities.
Brucker provides viewer engagement through movement, sound, use of sculptural elements and routine activity. For example, her 2001 “Memorial Project” began as a small canvas, using pieces of her late father’s shirt, to create a remembrance for her mother. Family friends recognized the material used to create the canvas and began to contribute similar pieces of clothing. Brucker created small canvases from each contribution.
“After 18 years, I am still receiving articles to be included in ‘Memorial Project.’ The contributions are helping to create a chorus of memory,” Brucker said.
There are more than 300 pieces in the LBMA exhibit, including “Memorial Project,” “Bouquet” and “Lost.” The “Lost” installation was created from precious metal castings of small, discarded, everyday objects, helping to connect the cycle of life with the practice of art.
Brucker is a professor at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles and a certified instructor of the Alexander Technique, using sacred and secular forms in contemplative practice.
Farm Fresh is Narsiso Martinez’s inaugural solo exhibition. The mixed media and sculpture exhibition is site-specific.
“My work right now is showcasing the farmworkers’ plight, earning them recognition for their struggles,” Martinez said. “I like speaking about it so people at least have an idea of what we do, what the immigrants in this country do. Most of the images that I use for reference are images from my experiences working in the fields.”
Narsiso arrived in the United States at the age of 20 with a ninth grade education. He earned his GED, attended art classes at Los Angeles City College and ultimately earned a Masters of Fine Arts at CSULB, all largely funded by his summer agricultural work in the fields.
Martinez’s art captures the worker’s struggle, made poignant by creating art on discarded produce boxes. These statement pieces, done largely in oil, charcoal pencil and ink wash, examine the lives and values of the field and farm worker, continuing the tradition of representing the worker in art, reminiscent of the Depression-era photos of Walker Evans (Let Us Now Praise Famous Men).
The installation Farm Fresh, occupying a large gallery space, is a combination of ink, charcoal, gouache, gold leaf and collage on reclaimed cardboard boxes along with multiple small paintings on canvas housed in plastic fruit containers. The dramatic backdrop combined with the foreground’s small pieces makes for an “up close and personal, in your face” comment on the laborer’s world.
Martinez was a 2017 LBMA artist-in-residence.
Daywork: Portraits is the first comprehensive exhibit of John Sonsini’s day laborers paintings. The exhibit captures the personalities and characteristics of Latino day laborers living in Los Angeles. It represents two decades of Sonsini’s work.
Often associated with the Los Angeles figurative art tradition, Sonsini has developed a distinct, expressionistic painting style, focused on the humanist aspect of portraiture.
“I see myself as one of a line of painters who are attracted to images off the street, images that have their beginnings outside the studio,” Sonsini said. “My art attempts to capture the spontaneity and movement of people in real life. I consider my paintings to be a collaboration with the sitters. Completed works are signed by my sitters and myself.”
Sonsini’s portrays day laborers hired off the street, a visible, often politically under-represented group. Sonsini hired laborers from Los Angeles sites as sitters, paying the hourly wage they would have received for their hard work. Without being overtly political, Sonsini’s portraits make a strong statement.
As seen in “Saul and Lorenzo,” oil on canvas, Sonsini depicts class through the sitters’ clothing and from their posture, which can be seen as guarded, defensive and uncomfortable in a new environment. The portraits provide silent power to the sitters, who usually spend their days in anonymity. We can see a hint of Goya, the renowned portraitist, combined with Piet van der Velden’s classical portrayal of workers in the field.
The Long Beach Museum of Art is at 2300 E. Ocean Blvd. The museum is open at 11 a.m. Thursday through Sunday, closing at 8 p.m. Thursday and 5 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
Entrance is $10 for adults, $8 for students (with I.D.) and seniors 62+.
Free admission after 3 p.m. on Thursdays and half price admission all day Friday.
Claire’s, the on-site restaurant, gives diners half-price admission with Claire’s receipt. Valid on day of dining only.