The various pieces of an exhibition like the one opening Thursday evening at the Bakersfield Museum of Art come together in surprising ways.
About 18 months ago BMoA curator Vikki Cruz mentioned to fine arts photographer Harry Wilson her plans to organize an exhibition in 2013 that would be centered on the work of architect Randall Stout, noted for his designs for museums and galleries.
At the time, Wilson happened to have with him a partially completed body of work -- the albums were outside in his parked car -- that he hoped to eventually publish as a book called "The Museum Set." After looking at the pictures, which he had taken over a period of about 30 years, Cruz asked the retired Bakersfield College professor to put together an exhibit for the current show.
The result is more than 70 black and white photos of museums, including the ruins of some ancient structures. The collection is being shown in the museum's Ablin Wing.
Nearly all of Wilson's prints are exterior shots because, as Cruz pointed out, most museums forbid the use of cameras in their interiors.
In contrast, Stout's exhibit depicts the structures he's designed inside and out, and from beginning to end -- from initial sketches and blueprints to a wooden scale model and finally a photo of the completed building. His projects are known for dynamic forms, state-of-the-art technology and environmental sustainability, the curator said. The architect is considered a visionary who consistently challenges architectural conventions.
Stout is known for creating environments that capture the unique composition of their natural surroundings, while transforming light, shadow, form and materials into innovative architecture.
Cruz said that the Los Angeles-based architect teaches at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Last fall, he asked his students to take on the job of designing the layout and creating the materials needed for the BMoA display.
The UNLV students came to Bakersfield last fall to view the art museum, particularly the Cunningham Gallery, which occupies the center of the BMoA. While there, they took measurements and made preliminary sketches, then returned to Las Vegas to put everything together.
This evening, visitors will see the finished product, which includes enlarged sketches initially made by Stout. At first glance, these look like a swirl of black lines on the white wall. But when you look at the entire installation, it all comes together.
In the Chevron Gallery, the space to the left as one enters the art museum, is an exhibit called "Vacancy." It's made up of paintings by Matt Condron. Each is a different depiction of contemporary chairs made of plastic or some other synthetic material. The irony is that no one is seated in the chairs, and the space around them is empty as well.
By choosing places that seem to have been abruptly vacated, he attempts to awaken a connection to the moment before, or to the quietude he preserves inside himself in the form of memories, Cruz said.
Also part of the current exhibition is a collection of drawings by Amie T. Rangel. Her work investigates the repetitive structure and laboratory-like forms based from extensive research conducted at agricultural facilities, according to information provided by BMoA. The exhibit is titled "the Whey (way) n: to center."