Laguna’s Hidden Treasures: Art from Private Collections presented eighty works of art by eighty artists from thirty-seven collections in Laguna Beach and vicinity. The exhibition was in part a celebration of the collecting strength in a city and its citizens, which have been supportive of the arts since the early 1900s when Laguna Beach developed into a significant American artist colony. Due to limited space, collectors in Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, further north and inland were not represented in the exhibition. Additionally, only works from the United States and Western Europe were represented—this in spite of some wonderful Oceanic and Haitian art collections, for example, also found in Laguna Beach collections.
Abstract, figurative, landscape, and still life works were represented in the exhibition, which included painting, photography, and sculpture, and covered 100 years, ranging from the early-twentieth century to the early-twenty-first century. The installation was not chronological; rather the works were juxtaposed in unusual and interesting ways. For example, a meditation on decades of industrialization and urbanization was suggested for viewers on seeing a scene of early twentieth-century, East Coast industrialization by painter Gardner Symons (1861–1930), juxtaposed with the crushed automobile parts sculpture of John Chamberlain (b.1927), which was placed in front of a large-scale painting of crashed cars wrapped around poles by the young German artist, Dirk Skreber (b.1961).
The strength of the collections reinforces the significant role that collectors play in the world of visual arts. It cannot be understated for they provide a service to the artists and to art history in that they too become curators—caretakers of these works of art for posterity.
Major support came from the William Gillespie Foundation, Cait Kunzweiler and Jeff Smith, the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau, and the Business Improvement District.
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