Art Review: Stuart artists' works flop at 'Cross References' exhibit

One of the things so intriguing, original and thought-provoking about the Stuart Art Collection is its manipulation of space and environment through the medium of art. The exhibit on display at the La Jolla branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego is a far cry from these principles of quality. In fact, the pieces on exhibit are neither intriguing nor original. They do not manipulate space, nor do they even consider environment, and they fall horribly short of thought-provoking.

These collective parameters, which can be seen in all of the pieces on the UCSD campus, are what make the Stuart Collection so great. As we walk through our “”Enchanted Forest”” and hear songs and poetry from trees, or as we pass Charles Lee Powell Laboratory in Warren and see “”Vices and Virtues”” in neon at the top, we are prone to think — or at the very least take notice.

We, as members of UCSD, embrace the Stuart Collection and have even adopted “”Sun God”” (a piece belonging to the Stuart Collection) as a second mascot.

The Stuart Collection embodies well-thought-out placement of the pieces, stringent acceptance standards and meticulous commissions of the art pieces for the UCSD campus. The pieces on display at the MCA truly fail to fill these parameters.

These pieces, though they are spawned from the same artists of the collection on campus, look as if they’ve been thrown together in the hopes of living up to the Stuart Collection while falling extremely short of such a standard. These pieces also leave one wondering why these “”things”” on display are considered art. They smack of the very thing for which contemporary art is so quietly criticized in today’s society — art not really being art.

While the Stuart Collection on campus is inventive, site-specific, purposely integrated with the university’s buildings, and inviting of innovative artists, the MCA exhibit invites the backslide of these artists’ creations.

However, among the conglomeration of art pieces on exhibit are two pieces that stand out as slightly thought-provoking. Such pieces are “”Windows””– a window of the museum itself (demonstrating manipulation of environment) with cutout squares indicating a window within a window — and another aluminum slab art piece with the inscription, “”With all the holes in you already, there’s no reason to define the outside environment as alien.””

If you do plan on visiting this exhibit, have a stiff drink beforehand, because only then will the “”art”” actually seem like art. You will undoubtedly be left wondering how these pieces came from the same artists who livened our campus with the Stuart Collection.

Cross References:

Celebrating the Stuart Collection

Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla

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