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Santa Barbara Museum of Art Showcases Works of Alice Aycock, Michelle Stuart

Special guests attend a private reception to celebrate and preview the new exhibition, running through April 20

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the reception.]

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art held a private members reception on Saturday celebrating a new exhibition featuring the work of two women artists, Alice Aycock and Michelle Stuart, whose inspiration draws from nature. 

Larry Feinberg, Santa Barbara Museum of Art's Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Director, and the Board of Trustees hosted the preview event with 150 special guests, donors, lenders, benefactors circle members and director’s patron members.

“This is really a special occasion for the museum to present the opening of not one but two major artists, two major and mature contemporary artists at the same time,” Feinberg said. “They were part of the early, in the '60s and '70s, it’s called the land art or earth art movement, where they were considered with their art fitting into whole landscapes and redefining the environment around them. Both of these artists are very cerebral, very intellectual.”

The exhibits bring together “Alice Aycock’s Drawings, Some Stories Are Worth Repeating,” a major retrospective of work from 1971 to the present, and “Drawn From Nature,” highlighting Stuart’s racial redefinition of the medium of drawing. The exhibitions of these two prolific artists run through April 20.

Aycock is most known for outdoor sculptures and large-scale installations, and the SBMA exhibit is the first comprehensive showcase of her creative process covering the artists' later years.

“It all has kind of an architectural base, if you will. So many of the works in the exhibition have actually been built, or portions of the drawings,” Aycock told Noozhawk. “I would take something out of the drawings to really build the pieces.”

A visual vocabulary influenced by the use of computer programs provided Aycock with the ability to form multiple perspectives, perfect curves, concise construction drawings and accurate scale.

“I use drawing as a way of understanding how to build these sculptures and also sometimes as a kind of fantasy in which I can simply imagine spaces that couldn’t be built but perhaps portions — I would sometimes take portions of a drawing and use it as basis for building a large-scale sculpture,” she said.

For Stuart, this is the first major museum showing of the artists' work in the United States since 1998, with nearly 60 site-specific earthworks that include drawing, photography, video, sculpture and installation spanning the last 50 years.

Stuart was part of a generation of artists who considered drawing to be a medium in and of itself and not a prelude to painting or sculpture, and created works that bridged the gap between sculpture and drawing with photographic qualities.

In addition to the exhibit, there are many upcoming educational events being held at the museum that reach more than 40,000 people each year with more than 40 family, school and teacher, adult and community programs.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a privately funded, nonprofit institution that presents internationally recognized collections and exhibitions and a broad array of cultural and educational activities as well as travel opportunities around the world.

The SBMA is now free and open to the public during Chase Free Thursday Evening, from 5 to 8 p.m., and always free for Santa Barbara County students, kindergarten to college, teachers, kindergarten to twelfth grade and all active U.S. military and families.

The array of upcoming public programs offered by SBMA includes Art Talks “If Icons Are Not Pictures, What Are They?” on Feb. 13, a lecture with Nigel McGilchrist, “Armchair Travels Sailing to Byzantium” on Feb. 16, and the Catalyst Quartet on March 11. Click here to visit the ticket website for more information.

The exhibition of Stuart’s work is organized and toured by the Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside Arts Centre, University of Nottingham UK. Aycock’s work is a collaboration of varied sources, including Parrish Art Museum New York, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Eric and Fiona Rudin, Agnes Gund, The College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, Eliza Garfield, Henry S. McNeil, Joseph M. Cohen, James Solomon and Beth Rudi DeWoody, with the support of Lee and Zora Charles, Ken and Jane Anderson, Norman and Marianne Sprague, John and Dorothy Gardner, an anonymous donor and SBMA’s The Museum Contemporaries.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

SBMA reception
Reception attendees admire the works of art by Alice Aycock and Michelle Stuart. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

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