Friday, April 11, 2014

Art Pick of the Year: Hearsay at Begovich

You read that right. Hearsay: Artists Reveal Urban Legends at Begovich Gallery is my art pick of the YEAR! This is the first time I've made such a sweeping declaration, but this exhibition (curated by Lauren Haisch and Wendy Sherman) has been years in the making. I first met Wendy around July of 2012. She was working on it even then. You're unlikely to see a more meticulously curated art exhibit all year.

As the title suggests, it is a visual examination of oft-told campfire stories, tall tales, and sinister folklore. What do our darkest fears look like? What is lurking under the bed? What happens when you let three dozen artists tackle those myths that keep them up at night? Well, pretty arresting visual phantasms are bound to happen. Especially when the group of artists are as top-shelf as the ones assembled here. Among the roughly 35 artists featured, you'll find Llyn Foulkes, Robert Williams, Matjames Metson, Nicola Verlato, Mike Cockrill, Christopher Ulrich, and Ransom & Mitchell. The urban legends run the gamut from perennial favorites like Bigfoot and cryo-Disney to cautionary tales like the micro-waved poodle, and razor-blade apples. There's the purple squirrel, and the babysitter/clown standoff. Some are personal hauntings, while others are barely whispered memories that continue to permeate our collective subconscious. There's a lot to chew on here, and it's not for the timid or the faint of heart. Hearsay, much like the stories it explores, will have people talking for a while.

I've been waiting for this one a long time. I reached out to Wendy yesterday to find out just how long.

Exactly how long have you been working on this show?
Three years! We originally were hoping for an opening date of October 2013, so it could be a Halloween show, but the date was already reserved in the gallery. Then we were scheduled to open in January of 2014 at Grand Central Art Center, but the gallery director at the Begovich wanted to produce the exhibition on campus. He though we would have more flexibility to design the exhibition how we wanted it to look.  He also wanted to give us more time to work on the catalog and hopefully have the book release coincide with the opening – which is what I had planned! In a perfect world! The catalog should be released this Fall (September 2014).
 Is this your master thesis?
Yes. I graduate with an MFA in Exhibition Design / Museum Studies in May.
 Did the artists pick their own legends or did you assign?
We wanted the artists to choose their own legends because we wanted them to create a work that meant something to them. Since we were also asking them for a statement about their artwork. We felt it was important to the concept of the exhibition that the artists be personally invested in their work, so they weren’t just cranking out an illustration assignment that we were handing over to them.
If you go to only one art exhibit this year, this is the one.

Hearsay: Contemporary Artists Reveal Urban Legends 
March 29 through May 8, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 12, 2014, 5 – 8 pm

Begovich Gallery, Cal State Fullerton
800 North State College Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92831

The Haunting of the Haunted Painting by Nicola Verlato

Keep Your Hands Inside The Car... by Robert Williams

Finding a Bigfoot Dropping by Clayton Bailey

Portrait of Walt by Llyn Foulkes

The Purple Squirrel by Sarina Brewer

Witch Tree by Mark Gleason

What The Tree Remembers by Laurie Hassold

The Procession by Marnie Weber

Red Mask by Hellen Jo

photos courtesy of Wendy Sherman

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