Laguna Art Museum kicked off the seventh annual Art & Nature, a multidisciplinary exploration of art’s many and various engagements with the natural world, on Thursday, Nov. 7, with local galleries and other organizations partnering with the museum to host Art & Nature-related exhibitions.
The program continues with an array of events through Sunday, Nov. 10, and for the first time in the event’s history, the commissioned work of art is located inside the museum rather than outside. But don’t be fooled—despite the indoor setup, the museum’s largest gallery room has been transformed into an immersive 360-degree video experience that transports viewers to diverse landscapes.
“As usual, it’s a celebration of the way artists are inspired by nature,” said Malcolm Warner, museum executive director.
Warner said Art & Nature serves a number of purposes: to provide a festival of art and ideas for the community; to inspire artists; to find and develop connections between art and science; to raise awareness of environmental issues; and to celebrate Laguna Beach as a center for the appreciation of art and nature.
“The theme of Art & Nature speaks particularly to the identity of Laguna Beach, which for over 100 years has been a center for art, the appreciation of nature, and environmental awareness,” Warner said. “In 1929, when the Laguna Beach Art Association built an art gallery to show and sell their work, they chose a commanding location on the coastline close to the natural wonders they loved to paint. The present museum occupies the same site. There could be no more appropriate venue in which to explore the art-nature connection.”
This year’s program features a range of nature-themed exhibitions and events, including a keynote lecture by Professor Alan Braddock, a film screening, a panel discussion, and a free family festival exploring art and the natural world closing out the program on Sunday.
Warner was proud to announce that this year the museum is also offering three related exhibitions on the theme of landscape and different approaches to landscape: “Thomas Hunt: California Modernist,” “Etchings by Mildred Bryant Brooks,” and “Laurie Brown: Photographs.” All three exhibitions will remain open until Jan. 12, 2020.
The 2019 Art & Nature featured artist is Yorgo Alexopoulos, an American-born artist of Greek descent. Alexopoulos graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently lives in Los Angeles. He’s best known for his paintings, time-based media artworks, and installations—often synchronizing multiple monitors or projections to create ever-changing, immersive spectacles.
Though he is frequently referred to as a digital artist, Alexopoulos’ practice is rooted in painting, the artist’s primary medium.
“Using landscape symbolism as a point of departure, he combines Euclidean geometric shapes with a multiplicity of moving images, whether filmed, photographed, painted, or drawn, that unite representation and abstraction into a common aesthetic,” museum officials said in a statement.
Alexopoulos’ previous permanent public installations include a 27-channel video installation for Norman Foster’s Bow Building in Calgary, Alberta, as well as large-scale video installations in Chicago’s AMA Plaza designed by Mies Van Der Rohe, and New York’s Row Hotel in Times Square. In 2011, he was commissioned by the Art Production Fund to produce a sprawling 432 LCD screen installation for the lobby of The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.
“360° Azimuth,” Alexopoulos’ large-scale multimedia installation at the museum, opened to the public on Nov. 7 and will be on view until Jan. 5, 2020. Program organizers described the work as featuring “a two-channel video projection with sound in which landscape symbols become metaphoric ‘characters’ in an animistic meta-narrative where reality and constructs of our collective subconscious seem to co-exist peacefully.”
To create his piece, Alexopoulos said he utilized footage he has taken over the last 25 years at different locations all over the world. For more surreal imagery—like ocean waves that seemingly flow directly at the viewer and NASA-looking vantages of the earth— Alexopoulos used CGI. He also tapped his brother, a composer, to help create the project’s soundtrack.
The artist said his work—which is created to be cyclical without a beginning or end—is not intended to have any specific message or meaning, but rather, he hopes to invoke different ideas and feelings in each viewer.
“The piece is meant to have open-ended meaning, like a lot of artworks do,” Alexopoulos said. “There’s nothing implied.”
Art & Nature Programs
Keynote Lecture: On Nov. 8, Alan Braddock, Ph.D. will give the keynote lecture, “From Nature to Ecology: The Emergency of Ecocritical Art History.”
Film: On Nov. 9, LAM will screen “A Boy’s Dream,” a documentary about the artist Theo Jansens, who creates large-scale “beach animals” that move independently, powered by the wind.
Book Signing: On Nov. 9, Elizabeth Turk will sign copies of the recently-published book documenting “Shoreline Project,” the 2018 Art & Nature commissioned work.
Art in a Time of Climate Change: On Nov. 9, Professor Victoria Vesna leads a conversation with Linda Weintraub, the author of “To Life!: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet.”
In Person: Yorgo Alexopoulos: On Nov. 9, Yorgo Alexopoulos discusses his work, including this year’s Art & Nature commissioned piece.
Family Festival: LAM will offer a day of free admission on Nov. 10, plus family yoga with Bala Shala, hands-on art and science activities with partner organizations, and a family-friendly concert by Birdsong and the Eco-Wonders.
For more information on these events, visit lagunaartmuseum.org/art-nature.
About Laguna Art Museum
307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach
(Corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Cliff Drive)
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
General admission: $7
Students (18+) and Seniors (60+): $5
Visitors age 17 and under: Free
Museum members: Free