By Andrea Serna, Arts Writer
Ron Linden’s curated show PSST — pronounced either as “psssst,” like you’re trying to catch someone’s attention or, perhaps, “pissed,” as in pissed at it taking so long for local artists to get the recognition they deserve. Linden would have you take your pick.
PSST: Art is San Pedro 2000 – 2012 was intended to showcase nationally and internationally renown artists living and working in San Pedro. Linden was frustrated because despite their reputations in the art world, the artists in PSST weren’t getting their just due, particularly in the context of Pacific Standard Time, a Getty Museum led effort that documented the birth of the Los Angeles art scene from 1945 to 1980.
The injustice of this lack of acknowledgement was so acute that art critic Peter Frank observed, “There are people here whose names you know. There are many more whose names you should know. But you don’t not know them because they live in San Pedro.”
Linden attempts to correct this by identifying these artists’ place in the pantheon of Pacific Standard Time.
Through his activities as an artist, teacher, curator and gallery director, Linden has achieved grassroots recognition among other artists. Most recently he has exhibited at the Cue Art Foundation in New York. He is also a member of the Fine Arts Faculty at Los Angeles Harbor College, where he has served as Gallery Director since 2000. In 2007, he founded TransVagrant, a collective of artists and writers, to produce exhibitions and performances.
The wealth of talent in this exhibition challenges description. The 18 artists exhibited are represented in museums and galleries such as Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The Getty, the Whitney, and notable museums in Latin America and Europe. And that’s not even including a number of private collections around the world in which their works reside. The mediums represented range from acrylic, oil, works on paper, three dimensional sculptures and one very interesting video installation (Hint: put on the headphones).
Included in the show are artists who have recently died, Harold Plople and Linda Day. Plople, who struggled with mental illness and alcoholism is featured with two striking images. “Drug Pusher” and “Gigolo,” both, initially appear quirky or whimsical, but with an underlying dark visions that emerge. The cruelty behind the drug pusher’s sunglasses and the blood shot eyes of the gigolo reveal the reality of the streets Plople knew well. His work succeeds in being both primitive and sophisticated. Although he was unable to build a significant résumé, his painting was featured as the cover of Artillery Magazine.
Day was a much loved educator in the art department at Cal State Long Beach and will be the subject of a solo exhibition, Swimming in Paint, at the University Art Museum later this year. With her use of vibrant color, Day’s work articulates complex spatial characteristics and invites the viewer to participate through interaction. An early geometric construction piece is represented here.
Sculptor Eric Johnson has offered a shimmering electric violet three-dimensional wall piece created from composite resin. Johnson states he is inspired by both art and science. His ancestral boat builders heritage inspires the craftsmanship that combines with an obsession for color and surface. His work is frequently compared to the “Finish Fetish” school and his piece “Calando” directly connects him to the Laguna Contemporary Art PST show, Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface.
It’s hard to miss the work of artist Michael Davis. His public art inhabits Times Square, Los Angeles Metro stations and plazas throughout the United States and Japan. His work is viewed by literally hundreds of thousands each day. Davis moved to San Pedro in 1975 with other artists from Los Angeles’ Westside with the hopes of creating a new Venice-style arts community.
Two years ago he invited Lynn Kienholz, president of California International Arts Foundation, to town to discuss the establishment of an international art scene at the location of Warehouse 1 to include a sculpture garden. His grand vision is yet to be realized but Davis states he feels San Pedro is on the cusp of what is possible with the arts.
Perhaps the only San Pedro native included is Jay McCafferty. McCafferty practices a method of solar burning, done on the roof of his San Pedro studio. In the process, he rubs pastel on paper. Focusing the sun’s rays with a magnifying glass, he creates a loose grid on his finished work. McCafferty was included in the Getty PST exhibition at Laguna Art Museum this past year. His impressive résumé stretches back more than 30 years and represents a massive body of work with exhibitions in museums and galleries across the country. McCafferty is also a Harbor College professor along with Linden.
Craig Keith Antrim is a graduate of Claremont graduate school. His work is in the collection of the Getty, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Cocoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. His two dimensional pieces take on the appearance of a third dimension through his ability to layer and score his canvases. “Sun Dagger” speaks to a favorite subject of spirals, symbols and earth elements. His fascination with Native American symbology runs throughout his work. Antrim was included in the much acclaimed 1986 show The Spiritual in Art Abstract Painting 1890 – 1985.
The remaining featured artists includes Philippa Blair, Ray Carofano, William Crutchfield, Austin and Lyda Lowrey, Danial Nord, Peggy Reavey, Fran Siegel, Maggie Tenneson, Marie Thibeault, and Ted Twine.
PSST runs through Aug. 4 and is available for viewing, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Fridays, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. A closing reception is open to the public Aug. 4 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Transvagrant at Warschaw Gallery.
Venue: Transvagrant at Warschaw Gallery
Location: 600 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro