When I sat down to reflect on the year in visible arts, my head did not immediately gravitate towards a individual museum exhibition, nor did I feel of a specific artist who experienced a breakout solo show at a gallery. Instead, I thought about how 2022 was the first yr in, properly, a even though exactly where there was a entire year of scheduled programming. Following just about two comprehensive many years of COVID-connected cancellations, postponements and restrictions, I’ll remember 2022 as the 12 months in which matters appeared to get back to ordinary in the neighborhood visible artwork scene.
Of training course, there was also the art and the artists. This 12 months was brimming with stunning exhibitions and area artists generating statements.
Very first, 2022 was a excellent year for representation. I acknowledge which is a little bit of a wide categorization, but it was particularly refreshing to see San Diego’s institutions and curators placing in the operate to showcase performs from artists who, for what ever purpose, traditionally may possibly have been overlooked.
For illustration, there were being various astounding exhibitions featuring Native American artists this year. The best of these was “Voices from the Rez,” a team exhibition at the La Jolla Historical Culture and highlighted is effective from 10 regional Indigenous artists. The year closed with two superb exhibitions, just one from Indigenous artist Summer Paa’ila-Herrera Jones at the Central Library and “Old World/New Earth,” a group exhibition at the Bonita Museum & Cultural Center.
Artists with disabilities have been respectfully exhibited at “Script/Rescript,” an exhibition at the San Diego State College Art Gallery that explored ableism and the healthcare constructs of incapacity. The exhibition featured 10 artists performing in a assortment of disciplines and was that rare showcase of talent that was both transfixing and enlightening.
I will also recall 2022 as a year of finding community artwork in unlikely sites. There was, of class, Park Social, a practically 12 months-prolonged general public art initiative that saw about a dozen artists producing site-unique installations and accompanying workshops supposed to nurture local community involvement. Highlights involved Sheena Rae Dowling and Yvette Roman’s “Memory Collection” cloth will work at San Ysidro Group Park and artist duo Brian & Ryan’s cheeky installations at Chollas Lake Park. Together with last year’s SD Apply, a metropolis initiative to obtain performs from community artists to be shown at city-operate attributes, I’m tough-pressed to imagine of a time when the town was this fully commited to supporting nearby artists. I just hope that determination continues into 2023.
I also amazingly observed this determination at the grand opening of the Mission Pacific Hotel and The Seabird Vacation resort in Oceanside. It didn’t quickly occur to me to incorporate resorts in this essay, but the redesigned attributes have an impeccably curated selection of artwork from nearby and regional artwork that is peppered throughout. The Seabird also sports an annex gallery that is curated by the Oceanside Museum of Art. It was an unexpected joy to walk all around the houses and see vibrant operates by the likes of Michelle Montjoy, Akiko Surai and Annalise Neil. It is a thing I hope other nearby lodges will acquire note of and feel twice ahead of filling the area with the exact unexciting paint-by-quantities reproductions.
Of study course, any finest-artwork-of-the-12 months-variety checklist would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the grand reopening of the renovated Museum of Modern Art, San Diego in April. The museum’s flagship La Jolla place experienced been closed for just about 5 years for a $105 million renovation and growth. Glancing all around the space, it is easy to see that the income was effectively used, what with its large ceilings, organic light-weight and a design and style that appears to be to blend ideal into the ocean. It reopened with an outstanding study of local legend Niki de Saint Phalle and a “Collections Galleries” devoted to showcasing functions the museum has obtained over the a long time.
An additional nearby legend that obtained her thanks this 12 months was Faiya Fredman. Extensive regarded to be the “matriarch of San Diego’s up to date art scene” and regarded for her experimental sculptural and print performs, Fredman truly by no means acquired the awareness she deserved prior to passing away in 2020. “Continuum: The Artwork of Faiya Fredman,” which opened at the Athenaeum New music & Arts Library in La Jolla in September, as very well as an accompanying book highlighting her occupation, will serve to accurate the art world’s oversight and with any luck , enable solidify an essential neighborhood legacy.
Lastly, when I glance again on 2022, one particular of the proudest moments I’ll recall took place in June at the California Heart for the Arts, Escondido. The North County institution found by itself at the heart of a controversy soon following opening “Avenue Legacy: SoCal Style Masters,” a group exhibition showcasing regional graffiti, lowrider and street art. The offending piece, “Three Slick Pigs — A.P.A.B. Edition,” was a sculpture of 3 pigs in police uniforms dancing on donuts.
Was the piece blatant? Surely. Was the controversy warranted? Perhaps. Was the social media mob-fueled decries and threats of defunding the Heart from local politicians entirely hypocritical and contrary to the same tenets of “freedom” they purport to guard? Totally.
In the close, the board of trustees voted to hold the offending get the job done on show. I was honored to both of those preview the exhibition and to include the ensuing controversy and though I remained goal at the time, it intended a lot to me when the board decided not to censor the do the job. I’ll be honest, at the time it actually looked as if the Heart was heading to cave to the stress from a modest amount of outraged locals and Police Main Ed Varso, but they held their ground and, having said that dubiously, turned a hero for freedom of speech and artistic expression in 2022. Now that is something I’ll normally seem again on fondly.
Combs is a freelance author.