Last week, while interviewing curator Robin Clark about the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's upcoming Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface exhibition, I dropped in on preparator Thomas DeMello.
DeMello was surrounded by photos, rulers and a sketch of a clamp system he and other MCASD staffers were designing to help mount a heavy installation piece by DeWain Valentine, one of 13 artists featured in Phenomenal, which opens at both MCASD locations—Downtown and La Jolla—on Sept. 25 and is part of The Getty's big Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 initiative.
“The piece is estimated to be 1,500 pounds,” DeMello said. “It's a large resin sculpture in a diamond shape… and, just logistically, you can't pick it up. It's kind of a nightmare.”
Luckily, DeMello isn't alone in his struggles. As The Getty gears up for the official Oct. 1 and 2 opening of Pacific Standard Time—which includes more than 70 art galleries and institutions—others in the art world are busily digging through their collections and archival materials, trying to figure out how to show art that, in some cases, hasn't been moved or displayed in decades.
“These are photos I just got from The Getty,” DeMello continued, adding that even Valentine couldn't offer any tips on moving the large-scale works. “This [Valentine] piece in the photo was in a bank since 1970s and it was just sitting there on this riser, and The Getty decided they wanted to borrow it, so they developed this clamping system. So, we're developing a system based on what The Getty did.”
DeMello went on a field trip and watched The Getty install Valentine's sculpture, so he's confident the clamps will do the trick.
Dozens of PST-related exhibitions are going up all over Southern California. In San Diego, the Mingei International Museum is the only other museum participating, with its exciting San Diego's Craft Revolution show opening Oct. 16. But several local galleries have caught the bug and will, officially or unofficially, exhibit related works.
From 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, R.B. Stevenson Gallery (7661 Girard Ave. in La Jolla) will open an exhibition of James Hayward paintings; on Sept. 23, Quint Contemporary Art (7547 Girard Ave. in La Jolla) will show new works by Peter Alexander, Mary Corse and Robert Irwin; in November and December, Meyer Fine Art, Inc. (2400 Kettner Blvd. in Little Italy) will show works by Clay Walker; and Scott White Contemporary Art (939 W. Kalmia St. in Little Italy) is showing works by Valentine, Larry Bell, Craig Kauffman and Eric Johnson.