Los Angeles

“Museum Collection: Landscapes”

Long Beach Museum of Art

This exhibition, comprising thirty-two paintings, was apparently selected as representative of the various trends in nature paintings done by thirty Southern California artists over the past ten years. An exhibition chosen to survey a variety of styles with emphasis placed on a common theme plus a time element always promises contrasts in the artists’ personal approach which stimulates greater public interest. This exhibition unfortunately points up the fact that “name” artists are not always well represented when the works bearing their signatures were done a decade ago—before they achieved a personal idiom, in fact, before they were preoccupied with anything but exploring someone else’s techniques.

Landscapes, drawn from 1600 items and approximately 150 paintings, is a portion of the museum’s collection which in its entirety is adequate enough to provide a modest selection of nonobjective, figurative or still-life surveys with a thematic approach. Accrued by donations which were chosen by the museum staff over the past ten years, these referential works, though representative of some trends are uneven in quality and scope. Only Gerd Koch’s Windy Heat, Jack Zajac’s White Mountains, and Keith Finch’s Mystical Landscape, are interesting statements—a foreshadowing of these artists’ unique individuality and personal orientation over a decade. It is unfortunate that due to lack of storage space additions to the collection cannot be encouraged. A program of continuing acquisitions with proper housing is a prime requisite, as a museum’s collection reflects the community’s cultural vitality and civic pride.

Betje Howell