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"It Happened at Pomona": The First of Three Exhibitions Examining Seminal Art at the Pomona College Museum of Art to Open August 30

Michael Asher installation, 1970. Pomona College Museum of Art. © Michael Asher. Photograph courtesy of the Frank J. Thomas Archives.

Michael Asher installation, 1970. Pomona College Museum of Art. © Michael Asher. Ph

Pomona College Museum of Art is pleased to announce the opening of the first of three exhibitions associated with It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973. “Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona” opens August 30 and continues through November 6, 2011. The public reception will be on Tuesday, August 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. A press preview will be held Tuesday, August 30, from 3 to 5 p.m.

In addition to the public reception, the museum will host a series of special opening events on Saturday, September 17, from 4 to 7 p.m. including a Keynote Lecture by Dr. Thomas Crow (4 p.m., Bridges Hall of Music) and a conversation with Hal Glicksman and Mowry Baden moderated by Crow (5 p.m.), followed by a reception at the museum. All events are free and open to the public.

“Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona” examines the period of ground-breaking artwork and intense intellectual ferment that commenced in the fall of 1969, when Mowry Baden, Pomona’s newly-arrived chair of the art department hired Hal Glicksman as gallery director and curator. Glicksman left a preparator’s position assisting legendary curator Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum. Today Glicksman jokes that Pomona hired him because he had a good toolbox and he knew how to put things together, but this project argues that Glicksman recognized a profound shift in artists’ approach to creating work, and the potential that this process held for transforming how art functioned in the museum.

During the academic year of 1969-1970, Glicksman established one of the first museum residency programs—the Artist’s Gallery—in which artists used the museum gallery as a studio space to create unique environments directly in the museum. The exhibition brings together re-creations of the site-specific works shown at Pomona College during Glicksman’s tenure, along with artworks and documentation of other projects shown at the museum during this era. The highlights of this exhibition will be the creation of a new work by Michael Asher in response to his landmark 1970 installation at Pomona College, the re-creations of seminal installations by Lloyd Hamrol and Tom Eatherton, and formative works by Lewis Baltz, Judy Chicago, Ron Cooper and Robert Irwin.

Asher’s 1970 architectural intervention dramatically altered two of the museum’s adjacent galleries, transforming them into two triangular spaces joined by a narrow opening that severely restricted the flow of light into one space while keeping the other space open to the street outside, day and night. The modulations of light, air pressure, and sound within this work place it squarely in dialog with Light and Space art and other forms of phenomenology-based postminimalism. However, by preventing the museum from closing its doors, the work is also widely seen as a key work in the Conceptual Art practice known as institutional critique and one of the most important artworks produced in the United States during this period. For “Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona” Asher presents a new work that distills concerns from his original piece into an altered contemporary discourse. Proposed to Pomona in 2009 and first presented at the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Asher’s new work will consist of having the Museum open 24 hours a day for 10 weeks, the full exhibition run of “Part I: Hal Glicksman at Pomona.”

The exhibition will also present the reconstruction of two dramatic large-scale installations originally presented at Pomona in 1969-70. Tom Eatherton’s 1970 Rise, recreated in full, is a room-sized, immersive installation that creates perceptual effects with each viewer as he or she walks through a glowing and seemingly indeterminate, Ganzfeld-like space. Lloyd Hamrol’s Situational Construction for Pomona also creates an immersive environment in which the viewer gazes through a window into a luminous, water-filled room that simulates an abstraction of a landscape at sunset. Similarly, Ron Cooper’s 1969 film Ball Drop documents in dramatic slow motion the shattering of a massive glass panel for Cooper’s 1969 Pomona installation, creating an abstraction of movement and allowing viewers to actually feel the movement of the image in their bodies.

Today, the group of artists shown by Glicksman might not be seen as a cohesive group, but during the time their work was featured at Pomona College, all of these artists shared a phenomenological sensibility that overlapped with the concerns of the Light and Space work that emerged at the end of the 1960s in Southern California. In this sense, Robert Irwin’s untitled disc painting, on view throughout Glicksman’s tenure at Pomona, was a touchstone for Glicksman’s “Artists Gallery” series. The Irwin disc painting holds a central place in “Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona,” which aims to place Irwin’s work within a much broader range of practices related to performance, sound, and other forms of sculpture that were focused on perception as a physical, bodily activity.

In her seminal “Atmosphere” performances of the 1970s, for instance, Judy Chicago combined commercial fireworks and road flares in ephemeral “paintings” of colored smoke that hovered and dissipated in air currents. Chicago explained the work as a way to soften and feminize the environment, and she presented Atmospheres at sites such as Brookside Park in Pasadena, the Pasadena Art Museum, beaches in Trancas and Santa Barbara, and the desert around Joshua Tree. In 1970, Glicksman invited Chicago to create an Atmosphere for Pomona College. She launched Snow Atmosphere on February 22, 1970, with all white flares on Mount Baldy, a short drive from the Pomona College campus. “Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona” will include large-scale, never-before-exhibited photographs documenting the Snow Atmosphere, and Chicago will be creating a new pyrotechnic performance, A Butterfly for Pomona, on January 21, 2012 as part of Pomona College’s presentation for the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival.

Also on view will be a selection of Lewis Baltz’s Prototype Series photographs from the Pomona College Collection. Baltz arrived in Claremont in 1969 to attend Claremont Graduate University (then Claremont Graduate School) for an MFA. Glicksman quickly recognized his extraordinary abilities, and invited him to teach photography at Pomona College, where Baltz taught from 1970-1973. Glicksman followed that with an invitation to show his photographs in the Pomona College Museum of Art, the final exhibition of Glicksman’s tenure at Pomona, and Baltz’s first solo exhibition.

The Prototypes established Baltz’s characteristic approach: crisp, quiet, luminescent, black-and-white photographs of urban and suburban locales. Baltz’s photographs echoed the Minimalist aesthetic but transposed it into photographic and sub-industrial space, retaining traces of human influence. In the Prototypes, Baltz helped build an important bridge between divergent art practices; his photographs were among the first works to combine the Minimalist aesthetic with the vernacular landscape.

Premiering to the public on August 30, and in conjunction with the full exhibition It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973, is 1969 Pomona alumnus Chris Burden’s newly fabricated 1967 untitled sculpture. On view for all three exhibitions, Burden’s six-foot cubic sculpture is located in the courtyard adjacent to the Pomona College Museum of Art. The simple but irregular yellow and black pattern covering the surface of this sculpture causes the structure to appear either as a cube or as a series of columns depending on the angle from which it is approached. Created during Burden’s undergraduate years at Pomona, this work will act as a conceptual preface to the project, and will provide productive juxtapositions with all three exhibitions.

Significantly, as Burden has attested, this piece had a seminal influence on his decision to expand his artistic practice into the realm of performance art. In part, this insight developed because of the manner in which the piece physically unfolds for viewers through their actual encounter with it. As such, the sculpture embodies many of the concerns of Minimalism and functions as an historical gateway for the concerns developed through the It Happened at Pomona project. The perceptual effect of this sculpture is very much in line with the sculptural installations shown at Pomona by Glicksman, and featured in “Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona.”

These works all provide an important reconsideration of how the distinct concerns of Southern California artists in the late sixties were informing each other and moving toward other insights beyond those developed in the postminimalist discourses of the East Coast. Unlike the more formal explorations in New York Minimalism, in Southern California there was both an acute sense of the ethereal appeal of affect to the body, and a focus on phenomenologically-oriented sculptures, installations, and performances that were fueling Los Angeles artists’ investigations of postminimalist concerns. This project will build on the insights suggested in “Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona” to demonstrate in “Part 2: Helene Winer at Pomona” (opening December 3, 2011) how these concerns specifically intersect with and develop differently in the post-Conceptual work of a second group of Southern California artists working in the early seventies.

The catalogue for the exhibition It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973 chronicles the activities of artists, scholars, students, and faculty associated with the College during this period. The first exploration of a creative hotbed of 1960s and 1970s Southern California art, it provides new insight into the relationship between postminimalism, Light and Space art and various strands of Conceptual art, performance art and photography in Southern California, while contributing substantial new information about interconnections between artistic developments in Los Angeles and New York. Featuring scholarly essays by Thomas Crow, Rebecca McGrew, Glenn Phillips and Marie Shurkus, new interviews with Hal Glicksman and Helene Winer, archival reprints, and eighteen new interviews with artists of the era, the book contains 280 images, many never before seen. Beginning mid-August, the catalogue will be available for purchase for $49.95 through D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers and Artbook.com.

Support for the It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973 exhibitions, publication, and programming generously provided by the Getty Foundation.

About It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973

From 1969 to 1973, a series of radical art projects took place at the far eastern edge of Los Angeles County at the Pomona College Museum of Art. Here, Hal Glicksman, a pioneering curator of Light and Space art, and Helene Winer, later the director of Artists Space and Metro Pictures in New York, curated landmark exhibitions by young local artists who bridged the gap between Conceptual art and postminimalism, and presaged the development of postmodernism in the later 1970s. Artists such as Michael Asher, Lewis Baltz, Jack Goldstein, and Allen Ruppersberg, among others, formed the educational backdrop for a generation of artists who spent their formative years at Pomona College, including alumni Mowry Baden, Chris Burden, and James Turrell.

Providing unprecedented and revelatory insight into the art history of postwar Los Angeles, the project It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973 consists of three distinct, but related, exhibitions curated by Rebecca McGrew and Glenn Phillips: “Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona” on view August 30 to November 6, 2011; “Part 2: Helene Winer at Pomona” on view December 3, 2011 to February 19, 2012; and “Part 3: At Pomona” (studio art faculty and students) on view March 10 to May 13, 2012. The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated timeline, a 386-page publication, and a series of public programs including a lecture by Thomas Crow on September 17, a reading by Judy Chicago on October 9, and “Performance at Pomona” on January 21, 2012 with projects by Judy Chicago, James Turrell, and John White.

About the Pomona College Museum of Art

The Pomona College Museum of Art (330 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA) is open to the public free of charge Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 5 p.m.; Thursday, from noon to 11 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call (909) 621-8283 or visit www.pomona.edu/museum.

The Museum collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets works of art; and houses a substantial permanent collection as well as serving as a gallery of temporary exhibitions. Important holdings include the Kress Collection of 15th- and 16th-century Italian panel paintings; more than 5,000 examples of Pre-Columbian to 20th-century American Indian art and artifacts, including basketry, ceramics and beadwork; and a large collection of American and European prints, drawings and photographs, including works by Francisco de Goya, José Clemente Orozco, and Rico Lebrun.

About Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945 – 1980

Pacific Standard Time is a collaboration of more than 50 cultural institutions across Southern California, which are coming together for six months beginning October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene and how it became a major new force in the art world. Each institution will make its own contribution to this grand-scale story of artistic innovation and social change, told through a multitude of simultaneous exhibitions and programs. Exploring and celebrating the significance of the crucial post-World War II years and beyond, Pacific Standard Time encompasses developments from modernist architecture and design to multimedia installations; from L.A. Pop to post-minimalism; from the films of the African-American L.A. Rebellion to the feminist happenings of the Woman’s Building; from ceramics to Chicano performance art, and from Japanese-American design to the pioneering work of artists’ collectives.

Initiated through $10 million in grants from the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time involves cultural institutions of every size and character across Southern California, from Greater Los Angeles to San Diego and Santa Barbara to Palm Springs.

Media Contacts

Cynthia Peters, Pomona College
909) 621-8515; cynthia.peters@pomona.edu

Rebecca McGrew, Pomona College Museum of Art
(909) 607-7358; rebecca.mcgrew@pomona.edu

Carolyn Campbell, Susan Martin
Campbell Communications
(310) 659-5427; campcom@pacbell.net
(310) 975-9970 / susan@martinmpr.com

Photos available upon request