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Upcoming Exhibitions

Linda Besemer: StrokeRollFoldSheetSlabGlitch

February 12–June 25, 2022  |  Main Gallery

Bugaboo (2021)   Acrylic on canvas over panel   15 x 18 inches   ©Linda Besemer   Photograph by Brica Wilcox   Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects
Linda Besemer, Bugaboo, 2021. Acrylic on canvas over panel, 15 x 18 inches.©Linda Besemer. Photograph by Brica Wilcox. Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.

StrokeRollFoldSheetSlabGlitch is the first survey of works by Los Angeles-based artist Linda Besemer. This exhibition emphasizes Besemer's ongoing commitment to exploring alterity through conscious "othering" of abstraction and reflects upon the artist’s search for new meaning in painting over the past thirty-five years. Featuring twenty-three works produced between 1993–2021, the exhibition showcases key moments in Besemer’s career, taking visitors on a journey through the evolution of their practice, starting with early traditional gestural abstraction, exploring their “detachables” works, and culminating with their most recent glitch series. Visitors are also invited to delve into Besemer’s process and explore a collection of the artist’s maquettes, annotated drawings, and gouache color studies.

Besemer’s meticulously built works defy expectations. Their bright palette catches the eye with surprising stripes of color and vivid optical illusions. The artist refers to works created from the late 1990s into the 2000s as “detachables”—detached from their original surfaces—these layered compositions become distinctly painterly and sculptural. First, hand painted on plate glass and then peeled away, they capture the gestures themselves. Besemer also calls these works “acrylic paint bodies,” as isolated brushstrokes, layed paint sheets, and poured slabs transform into their own “bodies” and embrace of nonbinary, queer realities. This singular process responds to feminist critical theory that links abstract painting with cis masculinity. As they are lifted off their ground, these brilliant stokes are liberated from gendered relationships, disengaged from underlying discourse about systemic patriarchal inequities equated with the figure/ground binary.

diagonal carved paint artwork called Lil' Hurricane by Linda Besemer is cast acrylic paint with pink, coral, blue, green and yellow swirls made by carving into dried poured paint layers
Linda Besemer, Lil’ Hurricane, 2009. Cast acrylic paint, 10.6 x 7.09 x 2.6 inches. ©Linda Besemer. CNC routed by Gregory Kucera. Courtesy of Jean-Luc Richard and Takako Richard. Photograph by Jean-Luc Richard.

The glitch paintings imagine a space that is endless and moves in a million different directions. These paintings and their spaces are unfamiliar. They are not grounded in the gravity of a Renaissance fixed perspective, but rather open up the two-dimensional plane with a new expansive spatial awareness.
 –Linda Besemer

In Besemer’s recent body of work—the glitch series—the artist creates a new space of meaning beyond the horizontal, vertical, diagonal movement of their earlier work using the 3D animation program Maya. Besemer collected digital images capturing errant effects generated during shape renderings as the basis for this series. From these, the artist cuts, pastes, and collages new compositions for their hand-colored paintings. The glitch works are meant, in the artist’s words "to abstract the abstract” to make painting itself new again by transforming digital modes into analog strokes. They appear to be digitally produced at first glance, but brushwork within the works reveal their true handmade quality. Besemer’s pictorial space is rife with the tension of dissolution and re-materialization inherent in this new process. Curves, lines, blips, buzzes, and swaths of saturated color within the mind-bending glitch abstractions invite viewers to lose themselves in an electrifying visual matrix.

Linda Besemer: StrokeRollFoldSheetSlabGlitch is accompanied by a 92-page full color catalogue designed by Amy McFarland of Clean{Slate}Design, with essays from Director Paul Baker Prindle, curator Kristina Newhouse, and leading LGBTQ+ scholar Lex Morgan Lancaster, author of the upcoming Duke University Press publication, Dragging Away: Queer Abstraction in Contemporary Art.

Image (banner): Linda Besemer, (detail) Tony's Painting, 2013. Acrylic paint mounted on aluminum cleat60 x 120 inches©Linda BesemerCourtesy of Antony Unruh and Trish BoyerPhotograph by Fredrik Nilsen Studio.

 

Rita Letendre: Eternal Space

February 12– March 26, 2022  |  Mini Gallery 

Rita Letendre, Ishrem, 1979. Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches. ©Rita Letendre. Collection of Selma, Cy and Av Ray
Rita Letendre, Ishrem, 1979. Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches. ©Rita Letendre. Collection of Selma, Cy and Av Ray. Photo by River Fingerhut.

Eternal Space features seven works by the acclaimed Canadian artist Rita Letendre, who sadly passed away on November 20, 2021. This exhibition traces Letendre's gestural phase in the early 1960s, presenting her stylistic precursors that led to the creation of the mural Sunforce, 1965, on Cal State Long Beach campus and beyond. Continuing to track her path through the dynamic geometric "wedges" and "arrows" that mark the mature phase of her practice from the late 1960s to the late 1970s, Eternal Space culminates with the more atmospheric airbrushed acrylics created in the early 1980s. For Letendre, her signature geometric abstraction creates a feeling of vibration that builds into what she calls "eternal space." Through five paintings and two works on paper, including one work of art from the Museum’s collection, a storied artistic career is considered. Eternal Space is on view from February 12– March 26, 2022

From her geometric abstraction came her powerful "wedge" and "arrow" motifs, shapes which, for Letendre, established a feeling of vibration that climaxes in what she calls "eternal space." A masterwork of this phase is the atmospheric Ishrem, 1979, with its pulsating dark fields airbrushed in the upper half of the picture plane, an atmospheric base under a blazing wedge of crimson, tangerine and goldenrod breaking below. Letendre captures hues so intensely the canvas seems to emanate heat.

Eternal Space is a full circle return in some senses, as Letendre has long been associated with Cal State Long Beach. Her first major outdoor mural, Sunforce, 1965, was executed in her signature dynamic style. Letendre was invited by 1965 California International Sculpture Symposium organizer Kenn Glenn and University President Carl McIntosh to paint the mural on a suspended walkway between two campus buildings. Like many of the artist’s other paintings from that era, Letendre explored light and energy through the striking mural. The tangerine, yellow, and green epoxy brushstrokes are vivid against a stark blue-black background; such vibrant color choices were intended to “wake people up" as they "go along [. . .] never seeing," so that "things fall into focus and we start living,” according to the artist from a contemporaneous article in the Press-Telegram.

Rita Letendre was born in Drummondville, Québec in 1928. She was one of seven children. Letendre's father was of Québécois descent, while her mother was Abenaki/Québécois. When she was five, the family moved to a neighboring town, Saint-Majorique-de-Grantham and then to Montréal, where she was cruelly treated by other children for being métisse, a girl of mixed racial heritage. At an early age, she would stand up to this by declaring, "I am myself; I am Rita." Throughout her career, she would insist upon this self-definition as a person, woman, and artist. Fierce and independent, Letendre and her paintings remain unapologetically her own in style, motif, and technique.

 

Mark Bradford: Lithographs 

February 12–March 26, 2022  |  David Campagna Prints and Drawings Room

 629C-MB03 and 631C-MB03), ed. 45, 2003. 32 ½ x 32 ¾ inches. ©Cirrus Editions Ltd. Courtesy Cirrus Gallery & Cirrus Editions, Ltd and Mark Bradford.
Mark Bradford, Untitled, ed. 45, 2003. 32 ½ x 32 ¾ inches. ©Cirrus Editions Ltd. Courtesy Cirrus Gallery & Cirrus Editions, Ltd and Mark Bradford.

Lithographs highlights two lithographic prints produced by Los Angeles-based artist Mark Bradford with Cirrus Editions Ltd which underscore the artist’s dedication to using abstraction to question the art canon and material hierarchy in contemporary art. Using innovative methods that incorporate elements of painting and collage into the printmaking process, the artist challenges technical conventions. His unorthodox art material of choice in the early 2000s—paper end wraps used in perms—were utilized in experimental ways in the plate creation of lithographs. In choosing unorthodox paper-based goods in his practice, which he calls "social papers,” Bradford lays claim to an "aesthetic of southeast Los Angeles," and indirectly challenges the boundaries of urban landscape that historically have restricted the living and working conditions for people of color.

In making these works, Bradford began by burning the edges of delicate end wraps, wetting them, and applying them onto mylar sheets. The mylar was laid atop the photo emulsion of the lithographic plates. When exposed to UV light, those charred edges were transformed into dark outlines. For some plates, Bradford arranged torn pieces of copier paper onto the mylar to produce blocks of flat color, adding dimensionality. Each plate was tinted with a distinct ink color, revealing the final abstractions through the buildup of semi-opaque colors with each successive pass of the paper through the press. The additive coloring process was closer to that of painting than standard printmaking. The resulting composition remained shrouded in mystery to the artist and the printers until the final application of color was complete.       

Mark Bradford (b. 1961 in Los Angeles; lives and works in Los Angeles) is a contemporary artist best known for his large-scale abstract paintings created out of paper. Characterized by its layered formal, material, and conceptual complexity, Bradford’s work explores social and political structures that objectify marginalized communities and the bodies of vulnerable populations. Just as essential to Bradford’s work is a social engagement practice through which he reframes objectifying societal structures by bringing contemporary art and ideas into communities with limited access to museums and cultural institutions.

Using everyday materials and tools from the aisles of the hardware store, Bradford has created a unique artistic language. Referred to frequently as ‘social abstraction,’ Bradford’s work is rooted in his understanding that all materials and techniques are embedded with meaning that precedes their artistic utility. His signature style developed out of his early experimentation with end papers, the small, translucent tissue papers used in hairdressing; he has since experimented with other types of paper, including maps, billboards, movie posters, comic books, and ‘merchant posters’ that advertise predatory services in economically distressed neighborhoods.

Hung Viet Nguyen: Sacred Path

February 12–May 7, 2022  |  Community Gallery

Hung Viet Nguyen, Sacred Landscape V # 32, 2021. Oil on wood panel, 48 x 84 inches. Courtesy the Artist.
Hung Viet Nguyen, Sacred Landscape V # 32, 2021. Oil on wood panel, 48 x 84 inches. Courtesy the Artist.

Sacred Path features paintings by Torrance-based artist Hung Viet Nguyen. The exhibition showcases Nguyen’s highly textured painting technique, which imbues his landscapes and abstractions with a fantastical quality. Curated from his Ancient Pines series and Sacred Landscapes V series (2015–2021), the depictions of natural subjects and imagined scenes may seem unrelated. However, all featured paintings are united by nature and interconnected by an exploration of the universal life forces that unite spirit and matter. Using art as a “universal language,” the artist expresses his inner self by building intricate scenes that are rich with life, personal significance, and spiritual symbolism.

Nature has long been a source of inspiration for Nguyen. Reverence for the environment has even been a lifeline. While attempting to escape Vietnam in the 1970s, the artist landed in a labor camp; his ability to appreciate the scenery—such as the red sun setting beyond a verdant mountain—helped him contend with physical exhaustion at the end of each day. Now settled in the South Bay, the self-taught artist continues to pay homage to nature through his painting practice. Nguyen’s Ancient Pines series depicts the coastal rock formations and ancient bristlecone pine forests in California's eastern Sierras, a specific landscape that he interfaces with regularly. 

Nguyen’s work was featured on the cover of Artillery magazine’s January 2022 issue. In “The Spiritualized Landscapes of Hung Viet Nguyen: Devoted to Nature,” Genie Davis praised the Sacred Landscapes V series as a whole and specifically the work titled Sacred Landscapes V #32, which is featured in Sacred Path and pictured above.

Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld: In-Between the Silence

February 12–June 25, 2022  |  Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Gallery

Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld, Dream of Ithaca, 2005. Acrylic and ink on canvas. Courtesy the Artist.
Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld, Dream of Ithaca, 2005. Acrylic and ink on canvas. Courtesy the Artist. 

In-Between the Silence is the inaugural exhibition of Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld. The space in-between the silence can best be described as a place that is not knowable by the mind, but its power and strength can be directly experienced by basking there. It is where the artist allows her mind to go, which is breathed back into her art and poetry. In giving new life and a deeper truth to how she sees the world around her, her artistic practice is heightened and ever evolving. In the mystery of this unknown she gains focus and clarity.  

 

In-between the silence is the space where the Tao, the Mystery resides, where Carolyn is renewed, and her realm of creativity is enhanced. From that space and in those moments, she explains: 

 

I bathe in this unconditioned realm of sheer possibility. I cast off the extraneous, ready for liberation, for fresh landscapes. As the numinous silently beams from the darkness, I humbly begin again.  
Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld, prose from A Realm Birthed in Silence, 2007 

 

Carolyn is a poet, visual artist and writer who resides in Big Sur, California. Being on a never-ending quest to expand her spiritual and creative reach in her art and life is what guides her. To achieve greater understanding, Carolyn reads a wide range of philosophical thought and teachings. Influenced by luminary colleagues and friends Timothy Leary, Laura Huxley, Anais Nin, and Alan Ginsburg, she strives to comprehend the universe more fully through her artwork and writings. She fuels her art and poetry by challenging herself in new, unfamiliar realms. Her work goes through an organic evolution as each artwork is transformed, it emerges into existence. She is moved to resolve life’s contradictions and paradoxes to find inner balance and harmony through painting, drawing, and writing poetry. 

 

 

 

Ongoing Project

sm[ART]box

Project by TBM Designs (Doris Sung, Scott Horwitz, Karen Sabath)
Installed on Cal State Long Beach campus from December 2020–2022
Curated by Kristina Newhouse
View Curatorial Essay and other additional resources in the sm[ART]box Linktree

sm[ART]box by TBM Designs, 2020–2022. Photo by TBM Designs. Courtesy Doris Sung, Karen Sabath and Scott Horwitz.
sm[ART]box rendering by TBM Designs, exterior by Yaloo (Mike and Arline Walter Pyramid by Donald Gibbs in background), 2020. Courtesy of TBM Designs (Doris Sung, Karen Sabath and Scott Horwitz).

Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum presents the newest sustainable design to be installed on Cal State Long Beach campus: sm[ART]box. The structure, which repurposes a 20-foot steel shipping container, sparks imagination with self-cooling technology. Inventor Doris Sung designed the kinetic InVert™ Self-Shading Window System (InVert) to index time and temperature; the museum embraces its multidisciplinarity and ingenuity to prompt discussion of an integrated and sustainable future.  Standing apart from other smart technology—sm[ART]box tracks the sun and responds to the changing temperature of the air—all without computers or human intervention. Besides its impressive passive technology, the structure expands thinking about the function of materials, our environmental experience and even our sense of time and space.

sm[ART]box will soon be installed within the built environment on campus. Although temporary, its stay on a grassy quad next to a busy pedestrian thoroughfare will last for two years. Its inventions, instruments and design innovations will activate communal space. As an art object and an architectural structure, sm[ART]box will be perceived as a "place" over time. The unique building element of thermostatic bimetal (tbm) in the InVert shade system will attune observers to the visible presence of time; indeed, the structure’s function brings to mind philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of a chronotope, the awareness of time as it “thickens, takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible.” With the movement of the sun overhead, individual tbm pieces bend or flatten, alerting visitors to perceptions of time: personal or collective, biological, seasonal and geographic, among others. Through awareness of time, Bakhtin believed “space becomes charged and responsive to the movements of time, plot and history." His concept of the chronotope aligns with Sung’s description of sm[ART]box as a sundial of sorts.

Sung’s self-cooling technology is inspired by organic forms. The gentle yet marvelous diurnal movement of its tbm components calls to mind the heliotropic activity of plants, like flowers that open and close or leaves that rotate in relation to the passage of the sun through the sky. This activity is a subtle index of ambient changes in atmospheric conditions.

Learn more about the sm[ART]box project through Doris Sung's Material Concerns lecture linked below. 

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Material Concerns | Doris Sung: sm[ART]box and Sustainable Design (YouTube Preview. Click to watch.)

In its first phase, limited faculty, students and campus community will be able to view sm[ART]box. Once campus re-opens, the art installation and architectural case study unit will become an observation site and educational hub for students, researchers, designers and scholars. The structure’s simple response to the warmth of sunrays proposes a novel way to view, sense and feel air, light, and space in the built environment. In this, perhaps it helps us to imagine a future less dependent upon energy consuming creature comforts like air-conditioning. Sensing and absorbing the project’s potential impact may seed new insights about sustainable collective responses to climate change. We all must commit to significantly alter the trajectory of the Anthropocene. We cannot exist outside the environment, and it is our charge to think meaningfully and creativity about our position on the planet.

The exterior walls of sm[ART]box will incorporate eye-catching visual design by Yaloo Ji Yeon Lim, a South Korean contemporary digital artist who relishes the opportunity to collaborate on site-based installations. Yaloo, the mononym she goes by, recently inaugurated the first ever Korean Media Art Series in September at the Korean Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.

Design History
As an architect in the early 2000s, Sung thought of exterior walls as "skin." Walls are an essential aspect of the human environment, which architectural critic Sibyl Moholy-Nagy once described as a "shield between withinness and withoutness." Investigating the boundary between interior and exterior, Sung deeply examined how permeable and responsive materials could transform the future of energy efficiency and sustainable building methods. She was especially drawn to "smart materials" that react "flexibly to external conditions physically or chemically in response to changes in the temperature, light, electric field or movement." Computational advances followed material innovations and soon digital modeling accelerated to such a degree that the construction-based "low-tech" side of architecture yielded new capacity for innovation. The technology used in sm[ART]box epitomizes Sung’s belief that cost-effective, responsive architectural systems will help us keep up with changing ecological dynamics in an ever-changing and ever-warming world.

InVert tbm matrix close-up. Courtesy TBM Designs.
InVert's thermostatic bimetal (tbm) matrix close-up view. Courtesy TBM Designs. Click to see in motion!

About the InVert™ Self-Shading Window System 
Doris Sung and Karen Sabath named their firm, TBM designs, after the material used in their InVert™ Self-Shading Window System—environmentally responsive thermostatic bimetal (tbm). The innovative technology has the potential to improve window design and make high rise buildings less dependent upon air conditioning. These design and engineering feats are one step in the road to a greener and more arts-integrated future.

Activated by solar heat, the tbm pieces inside the sm[ART]box insulated glass unit flip and reflect heat away from buildings. Assembled in interlocking shutter systems, tbm pieces bend and curve as temperatures change throughout the day. Their movement lowers sunlight exposure, shades interior spaces and cools structures passively—without any manual intervention, mechanical support, or added energy use. This dramatically reduces solar heat gain, lowers need for artificial cooling and cuts greenhouse gas emissions.

Cal State Long Beach research opportunities
This project offers distinctive interdisciplinary learning opportunities for Cal State Long Beach. The TBM Designs team aims to collect quantitative data to measure the efficacy of the InVert system and survey-based qualitative data to assess visitors’ attitudes about the technology, including its appeal and thoughts on potential future applications. Faculty and students from a variety of disciplines will be encouraged to experience sm[ART]box to spark discourse and discuss creative solutions to bring about societal and environmental change.

Sustainability and community impact
sm[ART]box calls attention to Cal State Long Beach’s environmental goals named in the President's Commission on Sustainability (PCS). These goals were established in 2018 with the mission of integrating sustainability, defined as the intentional and simultaneous focus on environmental, social and economic health—into all aspects of university life. sm[ART]box also offers opportunities to engage Cal State Long Beach students, Long Beach residents and Southern California communities in dialogue about sustainability and urban planning.

 

 

banner image: sm[ART]box rendering by TBM Designs, exterior by Yaloo (Mike and Arline Walter Pyramid by Donald Gibbs in background), 2020. Courtesy of TBM Designs (Doris Sung, Karen Sabath and Scott Horwitz).