Gwynn Murrill / Gustavo Ramos Rivera / Don Brewer
Continuing:  Lita Albuquerque
Curated by Jacquelin Pilar

Opening Reception for Fall Exhibitions: Friday, September 7, 5:00-7:00pm
FAM members and guests are free with invitation or membership card.
Non-members $6.00
11:00am: Walk-Through with Curator, Jacquelin Pilar
4:00pm: Conversation with the Artist: Gustavo Ramos Rivera

2233 N. First, Fresno, CA 93703
Contact:  Jacquelin Pilar, (559) 441-4221 ext.124
General phone: 559.441.4221, fax 559.441.4227
Web site,
General hours, Tuesday - Sunday 11-5pm (open until 8pm Thursdays)
Free Admission on Sundays

GWYNN MURRILL, Marble Cat, 2007, Grey Carrara Marble, Courtesy of the Artist and Winfield Gallery, Carmel, CA

Exhibits include:
1) Primal Form: The Sculpture of Gwynn Murrill
Council of 100 Distinguished Woman Artist for 2007
Fri., Sept. 7 – Sun., Nov. 11, 2007
Lobby and Concourse Galleries

Council of 100 Award Luncheon: Sat., Sept. 8, 11:30 am (Reservations required)
Conversation with the Artist: Sat., Sept. 8, 2:00 pm (Public Invited)

“Gwynn Murrill’s figures are both timeless and utterly contemporary. Her work often brings to mind Classical and Egyptian antiquity and yet is immediately recognizable as her own. Gwynn’s reduction of detail strips the subject down to its absolute essence, which enhances its classicism and its power. There is vitality in the simplest figure as individual characteristics give way to universal attributes.”
Sara Campbell, Senior Curator,Norton Simon Museum

Gwynn Murrill brings to her award as the Council of 100 Distinguished Woman Artist for 2007 a lifetime of compelling and powerful work – the exhibition presented is an overview of her command of disparate materials chosen for the expression of her sculptural language where pure abstract form transcends anthropomorphism. There are coyotes of laminated Koa wood, a cat hewn from grey Carrara marble, deer of bronze, an animal relief carved within ceramic tiles, along with soaring bronze eagles – each sculpture extends beyond the mimetic impulse to “follow nature.” Murrill’s sculptural sensibility, in the words of Peter Clothier, is an “ecstatic apprehension of pure form in the environment of pure space.”

Since Gwynn Murrill’s first solo show at Rico Mizuno’s Los Angeles gallery in 1972, her process has continually evolved into a formal austerity connecting her personal aesthetic to that of the traditions of classic modernist sculpture. The initial pieces were sculpted from found wood that had been laminated into large blocks. By the early 1980s the wood gave way to stone and marble carvings and by 1990 she was casting most of her forms in bronze. These works have been presented in over 36 solo shows and in more than 50 group exhibitions. Our exhibition will feature the work entitled ‘Cougar Pond’ first exhibited in 2005. It is a fountain piece combining sculpture with architectural elements.

Drawn to animal forms because of their complex beauty, Murrill writes that: “My interest lies in the fact that I use the subject as a means to create a form that is abstract and figurative at the same time. It is a challenge to try and take the form that nature makes so well and to derive my own interpretation of it. I spend hours perfecting a piece with the goal to utilize all of the negative space surrounding the form as a vehicle for the abstract part of the sculpture. The negative space is as important to my sculpture as the positive space, evoking somewhat of a Yin and Yang relationship. Many of the animals I work with are also a part of our life here in the American west, and I truly enjoy expressing my appreciation of their existence.”

Over her career, Gwynn Murrill has received many accolades that include the Guggenheim Fellowship, a Prix di Roma Fellowship from the Academy in Rome, and a purchase award from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her work is held by many private collections and can be seen in a number of public commissions throughout the U.S. and across the globe. The American Embassy in Singapore displays one of her Eagles, as does the Target Corporation Headquarters in Minneapolis. The City of Obihiro, Japan installed seven of Gwynn’s deer along its main thoroughfares in 2003, and Los Angeles’ Grand Hope Park is home to a collection of three coyotes, a hawk, and one snake. Currently she is working on a number of Southern California public art projects. Her ‘Fountain’ for the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter is due for completion this summer and she has just begun an extensive sculpture and relief commission with a private developer for a highly visible building to be completed in Pasadena in 2008.

2) La Tarde Que Se Inventa - The Afternoon Invents Itself
The Paintings and Prints of Gustavo Ramos Rivera
Fig Garden, Duncan and Hallowell Galleries
Fri., Sept. 7 – Sun., Dec. 2, 2007

Conversation with the Artist: Fri., Sept. 7, 4:00 pm

“And if the drawing can make us think of Basquiat, and the composition reminds us of the Catalans, Miró and Tapies, or the North Americans, Twombly and Diebenkorn – it’s in the texture where we reencounter the Mexican painters, particularly those from Oaxaca, Toledo and Morales. But it is, more than anything, in the color where the unique personality of Ramos Rivera is affirmed. For as Robert Bly said when speaking of Ramos Rivera’s painting: ‘there are so many memories hidden in these blues, whites, reds, and yellows….’”
Alberto Blanco

Long overdue, the Fresno Art Museum is presenting for the first time a comprehensive survey of Gustavo Ramos Rivera’s paintings, drawings, constructions, limited edition artists’ books, and monotypes. Born in 1940 in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Ramos Rivera moved to the San Francisco Bay area in 1969 gradually establishing himself as a highly respected abstract painter and printmaker. In a Bruce Nixon essay featured in the recent comprehensive monograph on the artist, the writer succinctly defines Ramos Rivera’s position as a Mexican artist who lives between two cultures - “He belongs to a generation of Mexican artists who emerged between two distinctive eras: the first, a society still clearly marked by Mesoamerican traditions, the
mestizo land whose heritage had been both simplified and compellingly codified by the Mexican muralists; and the second, a postwar culture in the process of becoming truly international, which was moving inexorably beyond the grasp of those traditions as well as their representations, and which came of age during the early 1960s. As an artist of this subsequent generation, Ramos Rivera has demonstrated an even greater willingness to look outside Mexico for ideas, and particularly to the contemporary art of Europe and the United States.”

This is not to say that Ramos Rivera’s paintings and prints do not refer to the memories of his childhood or are not imbued with the intensity of Mexican color – most surely they sing with the exuberance and passion of village life, of a site indigenous to the artist’s identity. This art of memory also draws upon the light and sound of now, the studio that has housed him for over twenty years – the steep flight of three stairs leading to a long rectangular space flooded with northeast light. There are books of poetry, the playfulness of toys, and music alongside the brushes, pigments and canvas – visual treasures and solid tools, everything at hand for the work of giving form and color to the richness of creative imagination. The visual ground is often large as colors find their home in new arrangements and lines find their direction on the canvas’ pathways. Evident too are references to moments of historical presence nuanced by the fluidity of a poet’s surprising insight and juxtapositions of opposites – there is lightness, the lucid moment of a bell’s ring falling on stillness. And yes, there is laughter and song, the antidote to the darkness of time closing in upon the days of childhood. Affirmations of color – red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, embracing the full promise of their place on the white canvas – everything is possible within the constructive unconscious of a Ramos Rivera.

The Fresno Art Museum solo exhibition, The Afternoon Invents Itself, will present a selection of paintings, constructions, monotypes, and fine artists’ books. The earliest paintings date from the 1980s and are distinguished by a rich darkness achieved through the adding of tar to the oil pigments. Many of the works selected from the 1990s act as a bridge to the most recent large and vibrant paintings of this year. This work is charged by intense color and is marked by a sense of abandoned gestural markings – the accumulated markings are a language unique to Ramos Rivera that have gathered increasing fluidity over the past fifty years. Nine recent monotypes are included – for over twenty years Ramos Rivera has worked with master printer Kathryn Kain at Smith Andersen Editions in Palo Alto where his experiments with various textures and types of paper, colors, and inks have produced prints of lyrical beauty. Another facet of Ramos Rivera’s imagination is given to making unique and limited-edition artists’ books. The exhibition includes a selection of accordion-fold books and reflect another aspect of the artist’s spontaneity and expressive gifts. A long and fruitful friendship with the poet Juvenal Acosta has resulted in a number of artfully composed works to complement his poetry – many of the titles given to Ramos Rivera’s paintings, constructions and monotypes were a flowering of the exchange between artist and poet.  

3) Don Brewer: Chasing Billboards
Fri., Sept. 7 – Sun., Nov. 18, 2007
Moradian Gallery

Conversation with the Artist: Thurs., Sept. 13, 7:00 pm

“There is real excitement in making these different combinations of visual elements, ones which hopefully sing their own songs. Though the computer is a tricky beast, I still get a really big kick out of the accidental things that come out, as well as the painstakingly difficult actions that it demands. Some think computer art is only mechanical. In my experience, this is rarely the case…. One might also say that traditional lithography and etching presses are also very mechanical machines.”
Don Brewer

The Fresno Art Museum is presenting a new series of thirty abstract prints by Fresno photographer Donald Brewer that are both elegant and witty and a result of his twelve-year passion for photographing weather-ravaged billboards. As a long time museum professional and fine arts photographer his trained eye finds these deteriorating billboards very much like abstract paintings. Though a few of the billboard photographs can stand unaltered, Brewer has discovered that the digital medium offers an exciting means to manipulate the imagery in ways impossible with the old photographic process.

For this exhibition Don Brewer has selected photographs of eight of the worn billboards that he affectionately call “Mamas” as his personal acknowledgement of Mother Nature’s gift in freeing the billboard from commercial bondage. Recognizing that his working process brings forth new images from the initial board, that each of these, in a sense, has given birth to one or more visual offspring, he chooses to call the new images siblings, or “Sibs” for short – these being the prints that he composes from the initial source. The new imagery composed by Brewer is a result of his recognition and discovery of new arrangements of existing visual elements and augmenting them with new possibilities. He expresses his curious process by writing “I try to give the ‘Sibs’ some visual characteristics discernable in the ‘Mama’ while leaving some of the ‘Mamas’ DNA intact.”

Donald Brewer first turned to creative photography through a love of the natural world. His wide experience as a part of the museum world led to experimentation with photographic collage and then onto a series of trompe-l’oeil work of his own, before an extensive series of photographs of drawings on aluminum foil that were featured in an exhibition at the Fresno Art Museum. Completing this work, Brewer turned to the computer where he created a series of drawings and paintings that were displayed at Plums Contemporary Arts.

Graduating with a degree in fine arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara after serving in the Air Force as World War II ended, Don Brewer first worked as an assistant in the Santa Barbara Art Museum before accepting a position at the La Jolla Museum, first as a gallery assistant, then registrar, then curator and then as director of what is now the La Jolla Museum. Later he taught classes in museum studies and facilitated the gallery at Fresno State before taking the position of director at Stockton’s Haggin Museum. Prior to his appointment as founding director of the Fresno Metropolitan Museum in 1980 where he served until 1986, he served as the gallery director for the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Before retirement he became the gallery director and art appreciation instructor at Fresno City College where he served until his retirement. Don Brewer’s retirement is one of endless experimentation in the development of his ongoing fascination with the creative possibilities of digital imagery.

4) Lita Albuquerque
Stellar Axis: Antarctica
Through Sunday, October 7, 2007
Contemporary Trends Gallery
“By doing a star alignment on the ice at both poles, the whole planet is engaged. As an artist, I am interested in creating a mental image of the aligning patterns. In a way, it’s like taking a snapshot of a moment in time when the stars are aligned to the pattern on the ground, so that the ‘picture’ is an accurate image of not just a planet floating in space, but a planet surrounded by a vast circulatory system of stars of which we are a part.”
Lita Albuquerque

Lita Albuquerque’s project, Stellar Axis: Antarctica, an exploration of the concept of a unified planet surrounded by and affected by starlight, is also an exploration of man’s relationship to the stars. This project is a culmination of the artist’s decades-long exploration into the relationship between the stellar and the terrestrial through large-scale landscape installations and environmental interventions. Located on both the North and South Pole regions, the Stellar Axis project is a visionary conceptual work in both geographic and astronomic terms. Historically significant as an art expedition, the project was funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Lita Albuquerque with an international team of five for the visionary and express purpose of “bringing the stars to earth.”
Envisioned as Phase One of a two-part project, “Stellar Axis” was installed at Antarctica on December 22, 2006 (the exact date of the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere). Creating a star map by the placement of ninety-nine ultramarine blue fiberglass spheres of varying diameters positioned on the ice, Albuquerque used the various diameters ranging from four feet to ten inches as a means to represent the brightness of the stars. The installation was positioned near Mc Murdo Sound fronting the active volcano Mount Erebus with each of the ninety-nine spheres positioned to mirror a star’s location in the sky. The installation of Phase Two will conclude at the North Pole, and, together with the earlier Phase One, is intended as a means to symbolize aligning the stars above to sculptural elements on the ice, conceptually linking the two poles by creating a light shaft through the center of the earth aligned with the rotational axis of Earth. As an ephemeral artwork, the two installations will extend Albuquerque’s commitment to develop a visual language that addresses the realities of vast time and space. “Stellar Axis: Antarctica” is a modern art version of ancient astronomical sites.
The Fresno Art Museum in conjunction with California State University Summer Arts at Fresno State (Summer of 2007), is pleased to present an original installation created by Lita Albuquerque for the Contemporary Trends Gallery that will include artwork, photographs and documentary film reflecting on the original installation at Antarctica. Lita Albuquerque is an internationally renowned installation and environmental artist, painter and sculptor. She is committed to developing a visual language that brings the realities of vast time and space to a more human scale and is widely acclaimed for her ephemeral and permanent art works executed in the natural landscape and in public sites.
She was born in Santa Monica and raised in Tunisia, North Africa and in Paris, France. At the age of eleven she settled with her family in the United States. In the 1970s Albuquerque emerged as a part of California’s light and space movement and won acclaim for her epic and poetic ephemeral pigment works created for desert sites. In the late 70s she gained national attention with ephemeral pigment installations pertaining to mapping, identity and the cosmos. By 1980 the pivotal installation, “The Washington Monument Project” was featured at the International Sculptural Conference. The recognition for this daring work led to awards and commissions at major sites around the world, including the Great Pyramids of Egypt, where she represented the United States at the International Cairo Biennale with her installation and exhibition “Sol Star” which won the prestigious Cairo Biennale Prize. She is the recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts Art in Public Places Award (1983, 1984, 1990), a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Fellowship Grant and the esteemed Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship in the Visual Arts, Perugia, Italy (2002). In June 2004 she was honored by the MOCA Los Angeles for their 25th anniversary celebration for her contributions to the museum.

The Fresno Art Museum is located at 2233 North First Street in Radio Park, corner of First and Yale Streets. The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm and on Thursday evenings until 8:00 pm; Members and those five years and under are admitted free of charge. Sundays are always admission free days for all; on all other days non-members admission is $4.00, seniors and students $2.00. A two-week advance notice is required to schedule a tour. For more information call (559) 441-4220.

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