Sunday, November 25, 2018

Unsettled in Palm Springs

The Palm Springs Art Museum is the third and final stop for Unsettled, an extraordinary exhibit curated by Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha and JoAnne Northrup at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.

The show features work by over 80 artists from the "Greater West," stretching from Alaska to Patagonia. The second stop for the exhibit was at the Anchorage Museum of Art, where they were probably amused by 1980, 1970, 1960, totem poles by Brian Jungen created out of golf bags.

Bolivian artist Sonia Falcone's installation Campo de Color (Color Field) used terracotta bowls filled with spices.

I've never been a fan of Ed Ruscha's paintings, but the half dozen pieces included in the exhibit are all wonderful, including the 2003 Charles Atlas Landscape...

...and the 1980 Intense Curiosity–Gross Neglect above.

Agnes Pelton (1881–1961) was a German immigrant who spent the last 30 years of her life in Cathedral City where she painted mystical desert landscapes, including the 1952 Idyll.

A sense of doom and disaster underlies some of the art, represented here by The End, a 1983 watercolor from the Western Shoshone/Washoe artist Jack Malotte, depicting a Nevada landscape during a nuclear war.

Atom bombs are depicted even more explicitly in Bruce Conner's 20-minute CROSSROADS film from 1976. With music by Patrick Gleeson and Terry Riley, Conner took 1946 documentary footage from the atom bomb tests on the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, slowed it way down, and created something that's equal parts beautiful and horrifying.

The exhibit includes work by lots of Native Americans (rather than works depicting them), including the Tlingit/Unangax artist Nicholas Galanin's 2012 photo mashup, Things Are Looking Native, Native's Looking Whiter of an early 20th century woman and Princess Leia.

With the collaboration of Nep Sidhu, Galanin is also responsible for the 2016 No Pigs in Paradise, referencing the disappearance and murders of Native women in the north.

There are also works that seem to be there just because they are so gorgeous, such as the 1998 ceramic by Pilo Mora who splits his working time between Phoenix and Chihuahua, Mexico.

Mexican artist Ana Teresa Fernandez, who currently lives in San Francisco, went to the U.S.-Mexico border where she painted the wall blue to match the sky, which is documented on a video and a painting, Erasing the Border (Borrando la Frontera).

My favorite work was a 7-minute film recreating the opening sequence of The Sound of Music, except Julie Andrews singing and running through through the Alps is replaced by a Peruvian boy soprano in the Andes singing "The hills are alive..." in an indigenous language. It's simultaneously funny and touching.

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