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State of the art: Artists to discuss L.A. art scene at BMoA symposium

On Thursday, the Bakersfield Museum of Art continues its celebration of its biggest art exhibition with an artist symposium featuring nine of the artists featured in the current show.

"On the Edge: Los Angeles Art, 1970s-1990s, from the Joan and Jack Quinn Family Collection" opened in September. The collection, featuring more than 150 objects from nearly 70 artists, offers a compelling look into the birth of the Los Angeles art scene. 

"The exhibit explores a significant period of art making on the West Coast, a period that's responsible for putting Los Angeles on the map," said museum curator Rachel McCullah Wainwright.

Wainwright said the collection displays the diversity in West Coast art making, helping show how a number of factors — the civil rights movement, Chicano art movement, industry and technological developments — served as a fulcrum for the Los Angeles art scene.

The added benefit of this exhibition is that most of the featured artists are alive, still creating work and just a short car ride away from the museum. Many are also friends, connected through the L.A. art community supported by the Quinns, who spent decades collecting art and bringing exposure to the creators.

As part of the planning for "On the Edge," Wainwright said this symposium was a key element to allow a deeper dive into the art.

"Any time that you're able to hear directly from an artist, hear their thoughts, hear more about their process, it’s obviously revealing. What's interesting in an experience like this is hearing from multiple artists. Art doesn't happen in a silo. The place, the environment, the city informs each artist’s practice.

"When you get a group of artists together, you see a shared dialogue, a camaraderie. I'm excited to hear more about this time period and how each artist interpreted that, and the overlaps and the differences."

The symposium will be divided into two panels. The first, "Los Angeles 1970 – 1990: Exploring the Myth of California Through Materials and Subject," will be moderated by Rani Singh, former curator at the Getty Research Institute and director of special projects at Gagosian, Beverly Hills. Exhibiting artists Lita Albuquerque, Chuck Arnoldi, Laddie John Dill, Ned Evans and Andy Moses will discuss how the rise of new materials such as resin, glass and plastics found their way into the creative process, yielding objects "that blur the line between painting and sculpture."

Wainwright will lead the second panel, "California Ethos: Conceptualism and Literalism," with artists Don Bachardy, Gregory Wiley Edwards, Astrid Preston and Allen Ruppersberg. Delving deeper into the Southern California art scene, the discussion will address the birth of conceptual art and how it affected the traditional methods of art making.

There will be time after the panels for attendees to view the exhibition, perhaps with a new perspective courtesy of the artists.

Wainwright said she is thrilled with the response to the exhibition, which continues into early 2022.

"We've had a great turnout of visitors to see the show. ... I've given personal tours at least twice a week. It's been fun to share the Bakersfield Museum of Art with the Los Angeles community."

"What the draw that this exhibit has been. It's a credit to Joan — she's an incredible networker — the artists and the incredible group of sponsors who supported this show."

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.