Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Worth The Drive: Weekend Art Viewing South Of L.A.

A heat wave is sweeping through southern California this weekend, and so, Angelenos, it’s time to head to the beach. If you’ll be taking a mini-vacation south of the city, where there are plenty of beautiful beaches on which to cool off [and window-shop the local young surfers], why not see some art as well? Here are our picks for the weekend.

If you’re with the ‘rents:
Your parents are visiting for the weekend / your S.O.’s parents are visiting for the weekend / you’re entertaining a crowd with a G-rated threshold for creative risk. To keep these folks entertained, visit the art festivals in Laguna Beach. It’s opening weekend for all three festivals: Laguna Beach Festival of Arts, Sawdust Festival, and Art-A-Fair. Art history moment: the Festival Of Arts was begun in 1932 to showcase the plein air paintings that the region had become famous for, while playing off the tourism boost from the Olympics (held in Los Angeles that same summer). Thirty years later, the Sawdust Festival was started by a group of artsy hippies from the Canyon (Laguna Canyon) who wanted to show and sell their wares sans the juried selection process preferred by the FOA (Sawdust exhibitors, who are limited to Laguna Beach residents, are selected via annual lottery). Around the same time, Art-A-Fair was created, and, like, FOA, shows both local and international artists selected by jury. At all three festivals you will find some truly amazing artwork in any medium, lots of landscapes in the plein air style, several oddly drafted pet paintings, and crafts of various levels of quality and eccentricity.

Fun for all:
This assumes that you are going out with your friends — any age, with a more progressive, more discerning taste in art. Make a late reservation to a restaurant in downtown Laguna Beach and visit the triad of openings on Ocean Avenue. CES Contemporary, the youngest gallery, looks forward into the possibilities of contemporary art practice with the opening of Future Tense. Expect to see razor-sharp three-dimensional geometric paintings, edgy collages, and brightly-colored conceptual painting-installations. Peter Blake Gallery, celebrating its twentieth anniversary, will hold a retrospective of its hallmark minimalist-aesthetic work, including crisply-executed gravity-defying canvases and sleek acrylic wedges. Forest & Ocean Gallery, marking its one year anniversary, is showing a mix of photography and glassblown / ceramic sculptures. The multi-gallery event is happening from 5 – 9pm.

If you want a challenge:
Drive a little further south, stretch your conceptual muscles a little harder. T.F.R. Gallery, nestled in the unlikely little beach community of Leucadia, puts on strongly conceptual exhibitions, many of which feature art straight out of the lauded UCSD Visual Arts graduate school. This Saturday they’ll host Non-Luminous Objects, a visual/acoustic exhibition in which sound and weathered materials are appropriated as resonant instruments and arranged in colorful assortments framing a series of performances around sound and light. The event will feature sound performances using the objects as well as a visitor-developed social sculpture.

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