Laguna Art Museum has opened its first exhibit of 2019, “Self-Help Graphics, 1983-1991,” a selection of prints from the Self-Help Graphics collection purchased by LAM in 1992.
A second new exhibit opening on March 3 presents the original manuscript, “Titi, Nunu, and Klembolo: Helena Modjeska’s Fairy Tale Book,” and a third exhibit opening the same day is titled, “Centennial Gifts: Recent Additions to the Permanent Collection.” All three exhibits run through May 27.
A member’s opening preview on Saturday, March 2, will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A reception takes place Saturday evening from 6-8 p.m. LAM is located at 307 Cliff Drive. Admission is $5-7 and free between 5-9 p.m. on First Thursdays Art Walk.
The East Los Angeles printmaking workshop, Self-Help Graphics, emerged from the Chicano movement of the 1960s and was founded by Sister Karen Boccalero, a graphic artist who was inspired by her fellow nun, Corita Kent of the Immaculate Heart of Mary order. Kent was anartist, educator and advocate for social justice. Starting in a garage in 1970, Sister Boccaleroworkedwith painter Carlos Buenoand photographerAntonio Ibanezto promote community arts and the work of local artists as an instrument of social change in the Boyle Heights community. They went on to establish Self-Help Graphics as a nonprofit cultural arts center, which was incorporated in 1973.
The show features Ricardo Gonsalves’ 1988 silkscreen “Don Juan’s Got the Blues” among other important works of the era.
“Titi, Nunu, and Klembolo: Helena Modjeska’s Fairy Tale Book” is the original manuscript written by Polish actress Helena Modjeska(1840–1909) who was best known for her performances in the plays of Shakespeare and as a star of the American stage in the 1880s and ‘90s. In 1888, she and her husband built a country home, Arden, in what is now Modjeska Canyon between Silverado and Trabuco Canyons in Orange County. The actress was also a gifted storyteller and artist. During breaks in her acting schedule, she wrote and illustrated the fairy tale for her grandson, Felix Modjeski, presenting the 147-page bound manuscript to him as a Christmas gift in 1896.
With handwritten parallel texts in English and Polish, and ink-and-watercolor illustrations, the book tells the story of a pair of brothers, Titi and Nunu, who live on Mars. They run away from home, accompanied by their six-legged blue dog, Klembolo, but after some scary adventures, they return to their family and friends for Christmas.
The original manuscript of Modjeska’s fairy tale was recently acquired by the UC Irvine Libraries and was in need of conservation. The conservation has been completed, but the separate sheets of the manuscript are not yet re-bound, allowing Modjeska’s work to be displayed in a much more accessible way for this exhibit.
“Centennial Gifts: Recent Additions to the Permanent Collection” will showcase donations and acquisitions of works of art in recognition of the centenary of the museum’s founding organization, the Laguna Beach Art Association.
“It seems fitting to open our handsome, newly-remodeled lower-level galleries with an exhibition of new additions to our permanent collection,” museum director Malcolm Warner said in a statement.
The Centennial Gifts include paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and original prints by California artists, including two landscapes, an oil and a watercolor by Emil Kosa.
“The oil landscape, entitled ‘Into the Sun,’ highlights his ability to capture dramatic light and shadow on the Southern California hills,” said Janet Blake curator of historical art.Kosa was a prominent member of the California Scene Painting movement and was the director of 20th Century Fox’s special effects department from 1933 to 1968. The Los Angeles Times art critic Arthur Miller lauded Kosa, who won an Academy Award for his work on the film “Cleopatra” in 1964.
“The show includes outstanding figure-based works by Dan McCleary, Kenton Nelson and other artists of today who are bringing their own interpretations to this age-old subject,” Warner said.
More than a dozen lithographs, some with hand-applied gold leaf, by Lita Albuquerque, and photographs by Jacqueline Thurston and Jules Shulman are also in the show.
“The gift of Ruth Peabody’s portrait of her mother, artist Elanor Colburn, is a wonderful addition to the collection. Both Peabody and Colburn were important members of the Laguna Beach Art Association beginning in the 1920s. The sensitive rendering of Colburn attests to the strong mother and daughter relationship the two enjoyed. I especially like the way the viewer can perceive that Colburn is inviting you to share her experience as an artist,” Blake said. The 1927 oil painting, titled “Mother” was a gift from of the estate of Dr. Ernest and Birgitta Noble.
An abstract sculpture made of wood, aluminum and acrylic by Tony Delap, using his signature illusionist techniques, also joins the museum’s permanent collection and this exhibit, along with an untitled oil by Edgar Payne that was donated bythe Emory Wanship Family.
“We’re also showing some new acquisitions in photography, including highly original works by the Laguna Beach artist-activists Mark Chamberlain and Jerry Burchfiel,” Warner said.
In the interest of keeping a balance between special exhibitions, which consist largely of works on temporary loan, and displays from the permanent collection, Warner observed that it is important for a museum to give its audience access to favorite pieces that they can enjoy over and over again—“pieces that become like old friends,” he said.
In addition to the new works in the lower gallery, there will be a show of selections from the collection in the main-floor galleries, including familiar works by artists such as Joseph Kleitsch, Edgar Payne and William Wendt.