Two must-see contemporary-art exhibitions at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido opened last week and will be on view in the center's museum (340 N. Escondido Blvd.) through Feb. 22.
Organized by independent curator Wendy Wilson, Contemporary Constructions: Matthew & Iris Strauss Family Foundation and In the Studio: Artist Dialogs are part of the center's ramped-up 20th-anniversary season. The shows mark a welcome return to high-quality, headline-grabbing exhibitions in the 9,000-square-foot museum space, which was closed for more than a year in 2011 and 2012 due to budget cuts and has struggled to find its footing ever since.
Wilson recently walked CityBeat though the shows, which are stacked with recognizable local and international artists, like Fred Wilson, Raúl Guerrero, Jean Lowe, Sam Taylor Wood and Eleanor Antin.
"The Strauss family, they actually have a house dedicated to their art," Wilson says on a quick tour through Contemporary Constructions, stopping at several of the more striking works culled from the Rancho Sante Fe-based collectors' personal stash.
Wilson says she felt like a kid in a candy store as she wandered through the Strauss' home. She whittled down the works by focusing on a few specific geographical themes.
"Here's the German Impact wall," Wilson says, standing in front of a huge fabric work by Cosima von Bonin.
Wilson made use of the museum's high ceiling by focusing on large-scale works, and she represented the diversity of the Strauss collection with paintings, mixed-media pieces, installations and a video.
For In the Studio, a show exploring the relationships between artists and their assistants, Wilson collected interesting stories about collaborations. The text-heavy show includes mostly installation work created through these relationships.
"I'm fascinated with who works with whom to produce what," she explains. "So, the show just came out of that—years of meeting people and saying, 'Wow, these would be great stories to tell.'"