Today, columnist Tyler Stallings provides an insight on the arts in Riverside County.
The artistic director of the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts also tells us a little more about the "Tahquitz" exhibit that took place, at the center, earlier in the year.
Lastly, Stallings recommends an exhibit that has been accompanied by a series of events and lectures and which features an outdoor installation piece by Martín Sánchez, owner of Tio's Tacos restaurant.
What's attractive about Riverside?
In terms of the city of Riverside, which is mainly where I am based, in a very small range of city blocks there's several cultural institutions in proximity to one another. It makes downtown feel like a cultural campus, like the whole downtown area is focused on the arts. For a smaller city like Riverside, it feels very significant to have that many organizations and that level of support. The city's tag line is the "City of Arts & Innovation." They've been very much about supporting the arts lately.
What I appreciate about the county is its relationship to the desert. The desert has both its vastness and mystical allure that makes for some really interesting art. I appreciate small art communities too.
What are some of your favorite art venues in Riverside County?
Well certainly where I work, the UC Riverside ARTSblock. I really like the Palm Springs Art Museum. Also, in terms of smaller spaces, there's a place called Division 9 Gallery and the person who runs it does a lot of different activist-type things in the community. There aren't really a lot of small spaces or galleries, per se, in Riverside so to actually have him being really active, I think is important. And then I would say some of the more odd locations, there's a medical museum that's kind of funky. I think it's the biggest one in Southern California, The Southern California Medical Museum.
I like that because there's not a lot of commercial venues for showing art ...what a lot of people are doing out here is just because they like making things. So it's just a real nice DIY kind of vibe for the cultural scene in general. You either have university galleries for the most part or you have smaller nonprofit museums. I think the larger institutions try to respond to individual artists and there's a lot of awareness about bringing arts to the larger community.
Do you see any art trends taking place in the county of Riverside?
UC Riverside and CSU San Bernardino both have [implemented] recent graduate programs in the arts. At UCR, I think its only 5 years old and at CSU San Bernardino, I think it's a year in a half or two years old. The importance behind that is that you're now beginning to have artists, people from other parts of the country, come to either one of those schools because of what they have to offer and it raises the level of professionalism. Those artists when they graduate, if they stay in the community, they're adding a different degree, a different attitude toward their art because they went through graduate school. So, I guess it's not really a trend, but it's more of a change to the education system and it's yet to be clear as to what changes that might bring about. But it is one change, upping the ante in [higher] education in this area.
Can you tell us about a recent event that took place at Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts?
A really interesting event was the ["Tahquitz"] exhibition that we had January to March of this year. It involved an artist named Lewis deSoto and he lives in Northern California but he was born and raised in Riverside and went to undergraduate school at UC Riverside in the 1970's. He's a nationally recognized artist and he's part Cahuilla Native American, which is a large tribe out in this area, and he'll often address his heritage in his artwork. We had a large scale installation here in our two-story atrium and part of it was a performance where he had Cahuilla bird singers and an opera singer from the San Francisco Opera, singing in the Cahuilla language. Representatives from the National Museum of the American Indian, which is part of the Smithsonian, also came out to the opening. They were really excited to see our commitment to Native American culture in our exhibition program and then subsequently from there, we're beginning to work more with the Smithsonian with some other projects.
You could find out more information about the exhibit if you go to the Culver Center of the Arts website.
What's taking place this weekend in Riverside? Can you recommend anything to the Artbound audience?
Weekend events associated with an amazing exhibition, guest curated by Karla Diaz at Riverside Art Museum. Diaz is part of a collaborative group called "Slanguage" which [is] nationally recognized, so quite a coup for RAM.
You Are Breathing In It! Alternative Art Practices at Riverside Art Museum
3425 Mission Inn Ave. Riverside CA 92501 951-684-7111
Top Image: Performance by Erin Neff and Cahuilla Bird Singers for the installation by Lewis deSoto & Erin Neff, Tahquitz, 2012. | Photo: Courtesy of UCR Culver Center of the Arts, University of California, Riverside.
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