Sept. 14 2016 02:34 PM

New executive director Maria Mingalone hopes to renew communal spirit

    Maria Mingalone

    Since opening its doors to the public almost 20 years ago, the Oceanside Museum of Art has built a reputation for showcasing some stellar exhibitions, but more recently, OMA has had some, well, let’s call them troubles.

    One could argue that these troubles began with the 2015 resignation of museum director Daniel Foster. A few months later, a scheduled exhibition centering on the arts criticism of former San Diego Union-Tribune art critic Robert L. Pincus was abruptly cancelled. More recently, James Peck, who replaced Foster, also resigned after five months on the job.

    However, things are looking brighter for OMA. The Board of Trustees unanimously chose Maria Mingalone as the new executive director after a nationwide search. Museum staff and members praised the hiring. The fact that she was signed to a three-year contract also serves to stabilize matters.

    Still, while Mingalone has an impressive resume of curatorial work, most notably at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, she says she isn’t going to immediately shake things up. When I spoke to her, she had been introduced to OMA members only a few nights before at the opening of two new exhibitions, Space, Structure, Light: The Art of Russell Forester (through Feb. 5) and Irving J. Gill: A Comfortable Fit (through Oct. 23).

    “It’s only been my second week here and I can already see that it’s a very exciting museum and organization,” says Mingalone, who also chose to live in Oceanside. “This is a fantastic area and we have a community here that is really uplifted and appreciates an institution of this caliber.”

    She’s right in that OMA has become an integral part of the community and one that that has managed to appeal to both older and younger demographics. This is most evident in OMA’s upcoming exhibitions and programming. First, there’s Oceanside-based textile artist Michelle Montjoy’s series of “Stitch and Suds” workshops, each happening at the museum on rotating Thursdays through October. Essentially, the public is invited into Montjoy’s creation process, helping her construct a knitted installation out of old t-shirts. The results will be displayed in a March exhibition entitled River.

    Secondly, OMA is also rebooting and revamping its “Art After Dark” party, which will happen on Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. in conjunction with the opening of a new pop-up exhibition called Beauties Beasts. The Bob Self-curated show will feature work from accomplished pin-up artist Olivia De Berardinis and Hollywood monster designer Jordu Schell.

    While these events and exhibitions were planned before Mingalone’s arrival, she agrees both are emblematic of OMA’s longstanding appeal and, more pressingly, a sign that things are looking up for the museum.

    “This institution bridges so many communities and kinds of people from different backgrounds,” says Mingalone, who says she will “help direct the vision” of the exhibition programming moving forward. “The exhibitions have always been a collaborative process and I’ll hope it will continue to be that way, because I think that’s how the museum reflects diverse interests.”

    Beauties Beasts: Work by Olivia De Berardinis and Jordu Schelli
    Image courtesy of the artists

    MORE VISUAL ART

    Last call: Just before the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla closes its doors for a much ballyhooed and controversial expansion, be sure to check out the final exhibition in the old space. The Uses of Photography: Art, Politics, and the Reinvention of a Medium features a number of local photographers who experimented with the medium in the ’60s through the ’80s, to startling results. Names include Martha Rosler, Allan Sekula, Carrie Mae Weems and more. It opens Saturday, Sept. 24. mcasd.org

    Baja beauties: Since opening earlier this year, neighboring spaces CM Curatorial and Basile I.E. have become a welcome addition to an already thriving Barrio Logan arts scene. Curator Chris Martino’s emphasis on supporting local and regional artists is clearly evident in Southern Exposure, a new series focusing on up-and-coming artists south of the border. For the inaugural show—which opens Saturday, Oct. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m.—Tijuana-based Pablo Lano will showcase his signature “sweet art” where he incorporates discarded junk food wrappings to make vivid, thought-provoking sculptural pieces. basileie.com

    Byrd is the word: Stefani Byrd specializes in “video, new media and interactive technologies” to make broad and beautiful statements on everything from gun control to breathing. It’s no wonder then that she was chosen as the “Launchpad Artist” for this year’s Art San Diego contemporary art fair (Thursday, Nov. 3, through Sunday, Nov. 6, at the Balboa Park Activity Center). Expect to see Byrd’s work peppered throughout the fair. art-sandiego.com

    Secret’s out: If you haven’t checked out the San Diego Art Institute’s SDAI Project Space in Horton Plaza yet, then (and we don’t say this too often) get down to the mall now. Nestled hilariously next to Victoria’s Secret, future opening include textile artist Daniel Barron Corrales (Saturday, Oct. 7), Scott Nielsen (Saturday, November 4) and Melissa Beck (Saturday, Dec. 1). As for the Institute itself, be sure to stop by the Balboa Park location throughout October for a bunch of Halloween-themed programming themed around their dual spooky exhibitions, The Haunted Art of T. Jefferson Carey and The Dead are Not Quiet: A Group Exhibition of Macabre Art. Both open on Saturday, Oct. 1. sandiego-art.org


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