Art on Pacific Standard Time

Exhibitions coming to Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and UC Irvine will feature works by famous alums.

September 29, 2011|By Imran Vittachi
  • "Before - After," by Walter Wittel (1970) is at Laguna Art Museum's "Best Kept Secret" exhibition at UC Irvine.
"Before - After," by Walter Wittel (1970)… (Coastline Pilot )

The UC Irvine art school's role as an academic center on the West Coast for studying and experimenting with radical forms of creativity in the 1960s and '70s will be evident at October exhibitions in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and at UCI.

A roster of star UCI art program alums and teaching artists, who served on the faculty while riding that period's new wave of so-called conceptualism, will be part of three Orange County exhibitions.

The Laguna Art Museum, the Orange County Museum of Art and the campus's University Arts Gallery all will present exhibitions showcasing or encompassing the works of artists noted for their contributions to the Southern California arts scene from 1945 to 1980. These include UCI graduates Chris Burden and Barbara T. Smith, radical artists who both belonged to the highly-regarded Class of 1971, the first to graduate from UCI's master of fine arts program.

The three O.C. exhibitions will happen under the banner of "Pacific Standard Time," an unprecedented regional collaboration among museums and art institutions and organizations stretching from Los Angeles to San Diego, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs. PST officially starts this weekend, and focuses on Southern California's impact on American art from the post-war years until 1980. The Getty Research Institute and Getty Foundation initiated this collaboration, with the foundation underwriting it through $10 million in grants.


Tony DeLap, a Corona del Mar artist and retired UCI professor who was among the pioneers of the campus's arts program in the mid-60s, said it came as no surprise to him that so many names associated with the department — which, later on, became the Claire Trevor School of the Arts — would figure so prominently in three of the four Pacific Standard Time offerings in O.C.

"What came out of it [the period] was an arts department that — certainly for a short period of time — was the most advanced contemporary arts university program that was unique to the nation," said DeLap, 83.

He came to Orange County in 1965, when John Coplans, the UCI studio art program's first director and co-founder of Art Forum magazine, recruited DeLap to join him here from the Bay Area.

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