Film on Art Iconoclast Receives Encore Screening


Filming included Frank Mason’s work on a portrait commission of the Grand Prior of the Knights of Malta in Venice, Italy, in 2006.

Artist-educator Frank Mason campaigned against restoration of the Sistine Chapel

Film director Sonny Quinn and producer Scott Mason will host the screening of their feature length documentary film, “A Light in the Dark: The Art and Life of Frank Mason” Thursday, June 16, at Newport Beach’s Orange County Museum of Art.

The filmmakers will take questions following the 8 p.m. screening. The event coincides with an exhibit of Mason’s seascapes and landscapes at Laguna Beach’s Wendt Gallery, 1550 S. Coast Highway, through the end of June.

Mason was classically trained in the techniques of the Baroque and Renaissance periods. He wove these techniques into his own style reminiscent of the plein-air Impressionists. He extended these skills and trade secrets at the Art Students League of New York for over half a century, one of the most significant artist-educators of the era.

However, his infamy came from his personal quest opposing restoration of ancient works of art. He rallied public protests and spearheaded the creation of watchdog organizations to protect masterpieces from restorations. His battles with the art establish culminated in the 1980s with the Vatican’s controversial cleaning of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescos. “A Light in the Dark” takes an in-depth look into this controversy and reveals never before seen footage of the Sistine Chapel before the restoration.

“We also look forward to the Q&A where we’ll have a chance to discuss with local artists and art lovers how they can become involved and join us in preserving our cultural heritage,” said Scott Mason, a student and studio assistant to his great uncle, Frank Mason, who died in June 2009. The filmmaker now lives in San Francisco.

The screening is part of Cinema Orange, a documentary film series that runs every third Thursday of the month through August. Films screen outdoors (weather permitting) at the museum’s pavilion, located at 850 San Clemente Drive in Newport Beach.

Films are free with paid admission. Tickets are $12 general, OCMA members free; admission includes access to the galleries until 8 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to attend the 7 p.m. guided tour of the current exhibition “Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy,” on view through Sept. 4.



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