San Diego

San Diego

In April and May the county and city schools had their airing of young talent in large exhibits at the Fine Arts Gallery in Balboa Park and the Art Center in La Jolla, respectively. The county schools follow an “expectancies” program, offering students an opportunity to explore different media and express themselves at their own rate and direction of growth. The city schools adopted an “enrichment” schedule, providing additional training to students with particular art abilities. In practice, as both shows evidenced, attention to the individual is set above rules. Best proof was the vigorous representation of high school to junior college exhibits, showing that under individual care this age level need not be dormant, artistically.

A display of “assemblages” at State College came, not as an aftermath to New York’s show, but as a reminder of an interest in constructages and Dada-isms manifest here for years. Some of its attacks against traditional standards remained old hat. But it was fresh and even brilliant to see how these competent abstract expressionists, led by John Baldessari, Harold Gregor and Richard A. Morris, jumped their own shadow. Baldessari, for example, inserted a representational ad gimmick in a grey field as Final Resting Place for Mr. Peanut, while Morris chained his broad brush to the Hard Edged Painter’s Palette.

One would have wished for a dash of such self-mockery in a faculty exhibit and a one-man show at the Art Center in La Jolla. In the former such proven vanguardists as Don Dudley, Fred Holle, Sheldon Kirby and Malcolm McClain surprised by a rationalizing and refined leaning toward academicism. The one-man exhibits were of Bettina Brendel’s fastidious arrangements in paint or collage which have been called images of psycho-magnetic fields.

Another show at the Art Center described the case history of Cameron Booth, the Minnesota veteran, in paintings dated 1923 to 1960; within a frame of turns from objective to non-objective art it was essentially a story of how to fuse an innate feel for pictorial structure with color-boldness awakened by Hans Hofmann.

And at the Fine Arts Gallery the annual Allied Craftsmen exhibition contributed to the local scene a note which might tentatively be named a “threshold feeling.” It signifies not only the holding on a borderline between free expression and utilitarian intent but also refers to techniques both traditional and experimental and to a vocabulary which extends from the archaic to the futuristic. This year it was the group’s jewelry craftsmen whose work exemplified threshold ability impressively. Names included Arline Fisch, Jack Hopkins, James Parker, Fennell Wallen, James Sundell, Robert Matheny, Walter Chapman and Toza Radakovich.

Armin Kietzmann