acrylic on canvas and neon light
Collection of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, The University of British Columbia, gift of Alexander Cotter, 1998.
Photo: Howard Ursuliak.
A Cool Breeze continues Seattle-based curator Melissa E. Feldman’s research in 1960s California Light and Space and its reverberations, in this case Vancouver artists with a penchant for optical minimalism. This project, drawn largely from local private collections, presents these formal works in conversation to reflect on a parallel use of cool aesthetics in these two West Coast scenes.
The exhibition features work by artists associated with “L.A. Glass and Plastic” or “Finish Fetish”, a subset of California Light and Space art, which was a constellation of formal, material and conceptual practices that coalesced in Southern California in the late sixties. There are works from this period by Laddie John Dill and De Wain Valentine, as well as examples of more recent pieces by Mary Corse, Helen Pashgian, and John McCracken guided by the same concerns they started out with.
Through the process of visiting collections in Vancouver, Feldman discovered works by local artists previously unknown to her, such as Joan Balzer, Michael Morris, and Gordon Smith, whose paintings and sculptures had an affinity with and were produced contemporaneously with California Light and Space. Both groups share an interest in engaging the viewer in spatial and perceptual play using striking color, optical geometric patterns, and reflective or opaque materials such as mirrors and colored plexiglass. Two current generation artists, Neil Campbell and Phillip K. Smith III, from Vancouver and L.A., respectively, bring these investigations into the present.
Melissa E. Feldman is a Seattle-based independent curator, writer, and director of the Neddy Artist Awards at Cornish College of the Arts. Recent exhibitions include Another Minimalism: Art after California Light and Space, a touring exhibition organized by the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Free Play, an Independent Curators International exhibition on tour since 2014; Dance Rehearsal: Karen Kilimnik’s World of Ballet and Theatre, Mills College Art Museum, Oakland and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; Afterglow: Rethinking California Light and Space Art, which toured to several university galleries in Northern California including the Hearst Art Gallery at St. Mary’s College, Walnut Creek, California; and Sampler: Textiles at Creative Growth at Creative Growth Center, Oakland. Her writing has appeared in Art in America, Frieze, Third Text, and Aperture, among others. Recently distinguished visiting faculty at Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, Feldman has taught at the California College of Art, the San Francisco Art Institute, and Goldsmith’s College, and is credited with organizing the first American monographic exhibitions for Kilimnik, Martin Kippenberger, and Hiroshi Sugimoto for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.
June 10–August 15, 2017. Opening reception June 8th, 7-9pm.