SMC's Barrett Gallery Exhibits Work of Prominent California Artists Across Time

A gallery visitor observes pieces by Tony Berlant, Laddie John Dill, Kelly Berg, and Edward Ruscha.  (Kevin Tidmore/The Corsair)

A gallery visitor observes pieces by Tony Berlant, Laddie John Dill, Kelly Berg, and Edward Ruscha. (Kevin Tidmore/The Corsair)

SMC's Barrett Gallery hosts "Made in California: Contemporary Art from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation", providing a peek into a collection of work documenting influential artists of LA from the 1960s to the present.

Located at Santa Monica College's (SMC) Performing Arts Center, the Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery is currently hosting the works of over twenty-five local artists in “Made in California: Contemporary Art from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation.” The exhibit is free and open to the public from Aug. 27 until Dec. 6, 2019.

Squeezed into the 29,000 square-foot space are a range of mediums that saunter from wall-size murals to found-item sculptures and textural paper relief. The second collaboration of its kind between the Barrett Gallery and the Weisman Foundation, the collection features the works of Californians from the 1960s to the present. The goal of the Weisman Foundation, according to the curatorial statement provided, is to make notable artistic works accessible to the surrounding community.

“We had the opportunity to visit the Weisman Foundation last year," said Westside resident Jane Auerbach. "I saw that this [current collection] not only had artists we liked, but was curated by Ms. Weisman, and I thought, ‘I know she has taste.'”

While Barrett Gallery director Marian Winsryg curates most collections featured in the space, Billie Milan Weisman, president and director of the Weisman Foundation, is the mastermind behind “Made in California.”

Weisman expressed that a common practice in her curation is placing well-established artists alongside emerging ones.

“If they hold up, it gives credibility," she said. "I think these hold up well.”

Visitors admiring the gallery art, one of which is Gisela Colon’s “Oval Melt Glo-Pod.” Los Angeles, Calif.  (Kevin Tidmore/The Corsair)

Visitors admiring the gallery art, one of which is Gisela Colon’s “Oval Melt Glo-Pod.” Los Angeles, Calif. (Kevin Tidmore/The Corsair)

While the pieces in the collection vary across time, medium, and movement, every artist is connected through the Golden State. The collection includes pieces like Gisela Colon’s 2014 “Oval Melt Glo-Pod,” a life-size, iridescent vesicle, displayed alongside the glowing concentric circles of Gary Lang's “BLUELIGHTEIGHT.” The red streaks of Lita Albuquerque’s intensely pigmented “Ceaseless Memory,” created in 1984, sit catty-corner to the diverging canvas of Scot Heywood’s “Untitled Yellow, Blue, Red.”

Gisela Colon poses next to her 2014 work, “Oval Melt Glo-Pod,” created from blow-molded acrylic.  (Kevin Tidmore/The Corsair)

Gisela Colon poses next to her 2014 work, “Oval Melt Glo-Pod,” created from blow-molded acrylic. (Kevin Tidmore/The Corsair)

Displayed near the far wall of the gallery are two psychedelic paintings, “Morphology 1205” and “Morphology H2O” from Andy Moses, son of prominent Los Angeles artist Ed Moses, whose works are also on display.

Moses played a pivotal role as a middle man between the Weisman Foundation and the Barrett Gallery. The Weisman Foundation has provided patronage for the Moses artists since the days of L.A.’s Ferus Gallery, but he connected with the Barrett Gallery though a solo exhibition of his work in 2017.

“Billie [Weisman] does a lot of shows up at Pepperdine, which we love, but I think she wanted to do something that was closer in town, that more people could come to,” said Moses. “I said, ‘I have a great idea!’ and I introduced her to Marian.”

High insurance costs on works of art are a common problem faced by smaller institutions like SMC’s Barrett. However, according to Winsryg, the gallery was able to insure the collection without breaking their budget.

An overview of several eye-catching pieces within the gallery.  (Kevin Tidmore/The Corsair)

An overview of several eye-catching pieces within the gallery. (Kevin Tidmore/The Corsair)

“This is a different level for us," said Winsryg when asked about the caliber of the exhibit. "We’re grateful for the opportunity, for students especially, to see the body of work."