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Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface

Jacobs Building

Sunday, Sep 25, 2011 to Sunday, Feb 05, 2012

Note: While Phenomenal closes in La Jolla on January 22, 2012, it will remain on view longer at MCASD Downtown:

Phenomenal at MCASD Downtown, Jacobs Building:
Closes February 5, 2012. DW 68 VEN MCASD 11 by Doug Wheeler will remain on view through August 2012.

Phenomenal at MCASD Downtown, 1001 Kettner:
Closes March 4, 2012. Wedgework V by James Turrell will remain on view through August 2012.

In the 1960s and ’70s, light became a primary medium for a loosely-affiliated group of artists working in Los Angeles. Whether by directing the flow of natural light, embedding artificial light within objects or architecture, or by playing with light through the use of transparent, translucent or reflective materials, these artists each made the visitor’s experience of light and other sensory phenomena under specific conditions the focus of their work. Key examples of this approach include immersive environments by Bruce Nauman and Eric Orr, each of which produce different and extreme retinal responses; the disorienting and otherworldly glow of a Doug Wheeler light environment; a richly hued and spatially perplexing light piece from James Turrell’s Wedgework series, and the subtle sculpting of space with natural light by Robert Irwin.

In addition to artworks which literally claim the entire space of the room, Phenomenal also features a number of sculptures and paintings that function as prisms or mirrors to activate the space surrounding them. The properties of glass are explored in Larry Bell’s coated glass cubes and in monochromatic paintings by Mary Corse which are embedded with tiny glass microbeads. Elsewhere in the exhibition, the variously luminous and prismatic effects of cast or vacuum-formed resins and plastics are demonstrated with exceptional works by Peter Alexander, Ron Cooper, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, Helen Pashgian and De Wain Valentine. Lush pigmentation and supreme reflectivity combine in John McCracken’s lacquered sculptures to create bold objects which paradoxically melt into their environment by mirroring the details of the surrounding room.

About Pacific Standard Time: ART IN L.A. 1945-1980

Pacific Standard Time is a collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California, which are coming together for six months beginning October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene and how it became a major new force in the art world. Each institution will make its own contribution to this grand-scale story of artistic innovation and social change, told through a multitude of simultaneous exhibitions and programs. Exploring and celebrating the significance of the crucial post-World War II years and beyond, Pacific Standard Time encompasses developments from modernist architecture and design to multi-media installations; from L.A. Pop to post-minimalism; from the films of the African-American L.A. Rebellion to the feminist happenings of the Women's Building; from ceramics to Chicano performance art, and from Japanese-American design to the pioneering work of artists' collectives.

Initiated through $10 million in grants from the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time involves cultural institutions of every size and character across Southern California, from Greater Los Angeles to San Diego and Santa Barbara to Palm Springs.

Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.


Visit the Pacific Standard Time website for a full list of sponsors and supporters.

Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and has been made possible thanks to a major grant from the Getty Foundation. The project has also received generous grants from the Henry Luce Foundation for American Art and the Farrell Family Foundation. Additional support for the project comes from Faye Hunter Russell, Brent Woods and Laurie Mitchell, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Institutional support for MCASD is provided, in part, by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the James Irvine Foundation.