San Diego

San Diego and La Jolla Vicinity

Various Venues

What presages to be a smaller version of Los Angeles’ famed “Gallery Row,” on La Cienega Blvd., is the almost sim­ultaneous opening of four galleries in downtown La Jolla.

Opened in February, The Jefferson Gallery is temporarily located at 7930 Ivanhoe, while they await the comple­tion of their new gallery and art center, designed by local architect, Russell Forester. According to the director, J. Thomas Jefferson, the gallery will be de­voted exclusively to showing contempo­rary works of art. Dorothy Stratton’s one­-man show of recent oil abstractions are an involvement with nature which she interprets in monotones with occasional brush strokes of bright pigment. Essen­tially, they are mood evocative and ap­pear to have been rendered quickly and emotionally. Though pleasing, Stratton’s recent works are a visual intermezzo.

The recently opened i Gallery, with Marlene Williams as director, promises a record list of “stable” artists for fu­ture exhibitions. Printed on the open­ing announcement are such names as Peter Voulkos, Sam Francis, Richard Diebenkorn, Peter Agostini, Emerson Woelffer, Louise Nevelson, Malcolm Mc­Clain, John Mason, Guy Williams of the La Jolla Art Center faculty, Art Center School Coordinator, Don Dudley, and many others. The current exhibition is a one-man show of Don Dudley’s mural­-sized oils.

Next door, Lou Sander has opened his Art Works in La Jolla Gallery, with an exhibition of recent paintings, “The New Alchemy” by Los Angeles artist Maloy Barreto. Representative of a year’s experimentation in new materials and methods, the works of this young paint­er are a combination of craftsmanship and painterly qualities with mystical reference—a tricky area that could be decorative or trite if not handled with great sincerity. This exhibit stems from a series of works in oil glazes which Barreto began six years ago. Now, acryl­ic resin, polymer medium and other new products are worked into a gesso base with remarkable results which often achieve the depth and tonal richness of ancient encaustic techniques. If Bar­reto continues to be master of meta­physical tendencies, her works will con­tinue to be expressive and challenging in an art scene that has been all but submerged in junk, pastiche, and mu­tation.

The most pretentious of the new gal­leries is Zervos, with two long and spa­cious galleries that seem dedicated to hanging European paintings of every style, for every taste, all in fancy frames.

Museums are a reflection of the cul­tural health of any community. The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego is no excep­tion, though the title is somewhat mis­leading. Comprised of many “little gal­leries,” exhibitions range in quality from impressive collections of Old Mas­ters to traveling sections, the most re­cent being the 42nd Annual California Watercolor Society.

Centered in Balboa Park’s complex of Spanish type structures, the Gallery was built in 1925 as a gift to the city. It functions under the auspices of the Fine Arts Society of San Diego and director Warren Beach. Construction will soon begin on two new wings adjoining the old gallery. On the east, The Timken Foundation will house the oriental art treasures acquired annually for the Gal­lery Collection by its active Asiatic Arts Committee. The western wing will be devoted exclusively to The Putnam Foundation’s impressive collection of Spanish, Flemish, Dutch and Italian old master paintings.

Exhibition policy seems amorphous, with no particular emphasis on trends. Shows are organized to juxtapose clas­sic against contemporary including the A.F.A. and W.A.A.M. traveling sections. Each spring and fall, exhibitions are held to display the recent works of the San Diego Art Guild, whose membership includes competent craftsmen and ar­tists. Many are national exhibitors who are working in more advanced areas.

For many years the name Laguna Beach was synonymous with pottery and painters. Today, only a few artists re­main in residence, although there is a strong community interest in art, sparked by the veteran Laguna Beach Art Association. Strong advocates of traditional art, the Association’s exhibi­tion of Japanese Contemporary Sumi-e, organized by Kokusai Bunka Shinkikai of Tokyo, with the Smithsonian Institute, points up an interesting development in an ancient art form.

It has been said that today’s Sumi-e reflects the influence of Occidental drawing––notably the Impressionists’ viewpoint. But Hajin Iwasaki was a foun­der in the Japanese Expressionists’ Group; Iri M’aruki, the Avant-Garde Art Group; Shiru Morita was one of the leaders in contemporary calligraphy, and Tako Shinoda held one-man shows in Europe and America, exhibiting non-ob­jective Sumi-e. Paradoxically, though Sumi-e served as a springboard from ancient to contemporary idioms—the involvement is not total. Every painting, no matter how influenced by Western art, remains in essence, Sumi-e.

Exhibitions in the other galleries re­flect the Association’s policy: Noel Quinn’s competent illustrations; Sterling Moak’s traditional realism and Boris van Clodt’s representational scenes.

Several blocks away, architect Walt Vern and artist Jae Carmichael, of The Wooden Horse Gallery are offering one­-man shows of well known artists each month. They also have works in various media by Hans Burkhardt, Walter Askin, Rex Brandt, Roger Kuntz, Sister Mary Carita, Leonard Edmonson, Karl Benja­min, and others.
In cooperation with the Ankrum Gal­lery, of Los Angeles, Robert Frame has an exhibition of recent canvases presag­ing a return to more referential subjects. Fortunately, the rich pigment and paint­erly qualities of earlier works is still evident.

In their Pavilion Gallery, the Fine Arts Patrons of Newport Harbor, in co­operation with the Newport Harbor Serv­ice League, are presently showing “Three Painters—Three Points of View.” Started in January, 1962, with 13 founding mem­bers, this non-profit California corpora­tion has a healthy general membership of 500 with 50 corporate members who do volunteer duty in the gallery and on an ambitious schedule of programming which includes four major and three interim exhibits each year.

Exhibitors in the current show are Douglas McClellan, Roger Kuntz and Paul Darrow, three well-known Califor­nia painters, who have been active in the Claremont area for 15 years.

Among them they are showing 50 paintings in oil and watercolor, plus two metal constructions and eight assem­blages; a feat that could only be suc­cessfully achieved in a gallery as spa­cious as the Pavilion.

Selected to present widely divergent viewpoints, the McClellan paintings and assemblages (cataloged as construc­tions) are not only a study in diver­gency but divergency with purpose. Whether assembling wood and stones found on the beach, painting the ocean, as in Breaking Wave, an oval oil paint­ing, or portraying himself, McClellan’s concern is form exploration.

Kuntz’s Traffic Totems, are just what they say they are––metal totemic symbols of an age of metal totemic symbols. His paintings referring to the California freeway system, are good ex­amples of a halfway point in a con­tinuing effort to find a conclusion.

The majority of Darrow’s paintings show his strong bond with sea and na­ture forces. His oil painting, Sea Grass, done with flat, broad strokes in heavy impasto evokes an ever-chang­ing pattern of continuous ebb and flow.

––Betje Howell