Aug. 29 2012 02:13 PM

Vintage works and contemporary craftsmanship on view at the big annual art fair

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Untitled by James Hubbell, 1961

In its fourth year, Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair (Sept. 6 through 9) is making a symbolic move to the Balboa Park Activity Center, a location that challenges the church-and-state separation of museums and commercial art events.

This year's concept is New Art City, a four-district urban compound divided by art and design genres, combining gallery sales with the kind of educational components visitors would expect from museums, including performance art and lectures.

There will be nine Art Labs—curated showcases by local institutions including universities, museums and businesses—that will give attendees a better understanding of San Diego's arts landscape. In the past, these exhibits have been hosted off-site, but this year, it's all in one place and on view during regular fair hours from noon to 7 p.m. daily, except for the final day, which ends at 5 p.m. For details, visit artsandiego2012.com.

There's a lot to take in, but three object-driven showcases hit our radar:

• Dave Hampton of Objects USA, a gallery that focuses on California and Southwest mid-century art, will present the works of six local artists from the period at Maximum SD Vintage. Most recently, Hampton curated San Diego's Craft Revolution at the Mingei International Museum and Contemporary Art Wins a Beachhead: The La Jolla School of Arts 1960-1964 at the Oceanside Museum of Art. He's at it again, this time exposing lesser-known paintings and sculptures from San Diego's craftsmen elite, along with a collection of Charles Eames furniture curated by Hampton's Objects USA partner, Steve Aldana.

Art by Fred Holle, Guy Williams, Bob Matheny, Russell Baldwin, Sheldon Kirby and Erik Gronborg will be represented, along with early sculptures by James Hubbell. Hubbell's best-known in San Diego for his modernist architecture—from his Julian home and art compound to the Pacific Portal at Shelter Island and its white, concrete gazebo with waves and sail shapes that point to the sky. Hampton will show 10 examples of his early abstract work. A reception for Hubbell and other Maximum SD Vintage contributors (to be announced) will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at rear Patio A. There's a suggested $20 donation to benefit the Ilan-Lael Foundation.

• Point Loma Nazarene University will present an 18-year retrospective that draws from its pool of creative alumni for an Art Lab called Sculpture. The most recent contribution in the exhibit is by Austin Beneteau, who carved a pair of cowboy boots out of basswood for his senior project in 2012 before setting them ablaze to achieve a look that's not far off from textured, distressed leather.

"I'm a guy who likes guy things," Beneteau says of his inspiration for the boots.

The idea came to Beneteau at a bonfire, where the artist had his shoe-clad feet propped up near the flames. "I had a pair of boots to work off of," he says of the initial carving process, "and I knew what I wanted them to look like, so at first, I controlled the fire.

"Eventually, Beneteau says he let the fire go, just like he'll be doing with the boots. He'll be sad to sell them, although he's flattered that other artists, including his former professor and current boss, Dave Adey—who'll also exhibit work in Sculpture—have expressed interest in taking the singed woodwork off his hands.

Eleven alumni will show their work for Sculpture, but because of space constraints at Art San Diego, the items will be rotated daily, so visit the booth all three days for a comprehensive look. Additionally, Sculpture will be on view at the Point Loma Nazarene's Keller Gallery (3900 Lomaland Drive) from Sept. 13 through Oct. 31.


• Material Matters
is the title, and theme, of an Art Lab presented by SDSU alumni and current students from the school's Furniture Design and Woodworking Program.

"To make these items with any other materials would change its meaning," Matthew Hebert, assistant professor of furniture design and woodworking, says about the concept. One of the examples he points to is a loud piece of furniture that artist Jon Bonser created in 2011; the cabinets, made from scratch to look like guitar amps and complete with sound, are a strange, improvisational way of making the furniture system, Hebert says.

Vincent Robles is a graduate student in the program, and he's also a San Diego Art Prize winner as a 2012 emerging artist. He's recognized for a sculptural piece of furniture titled "Shelter" that he made in 2011—an 8-foot-tall reclaimed wood structure that looks like a cross between a ladder and an upside-down rollercoaster track.

The Art Prize is presented by the San Diego Visual Arts Network to pairs of established and emerging visual artists, who also win cash prizes and exhibit space at the fair. Robles' work will be on display alongside Arline Fisch, the established artist with whom he's paired, and also at SDSU's Art Lab.


Amy blogs at saysgranite.com and you can follow her on Twitter @saysgranite.

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