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OCMA retooling its California Biennial

Dan Cameron, the new chief curator at the Orange County Museum of Art, is broadening the geographic scope and timing of the show from once every two years to once every three years. He aims to pull together OCMA's first California-Pacific Triennial for the summer of 2013.

May 24, 2012|By Jenny Stockdale, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • Dan Cameron, new curator at the Orange County Museum of Art, will oversee the museum's Biennial show, showcasing California contemporary art work.
Dan Cameron, new curator at the Orange County Museum of… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Next month, Dan Cameron — the new chief curator at the Orange County Museum of Art — will board a flight to Europe, where he hopes to gather ideas from some of the world's most innovative international art exhibitions.

"I'm going abroad in June to see what a few of my friends and colleagues have done with the international platform," he said in an interview. "We'll see what I can poach."

What he captures, he'll bring back to OCMA in preparation for the museum's first international contemporary art survey, the 2013 California-Pacific Triennial.

The new exhibition will replace the Newport Beach museum's long-running California Biennial program, and will be the first of its kind on the West Coast, OCMA officials said. The triennial will showcase contemporary artists from the Golden State as well as from Latin America and the Pacific Rim.

Last fall the museum hired Cameron, a spry 55-year-old native New Yorker, to help re-tool its California Biennial. Once every two years, this regional exhibit had showcased the work of California contemporary artists. Since 1984, OCMA had presented the work of more than 248 artists from across the state.

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But, as Cameron explained it, even tradition can lose its bearings if it doesn't stay current, so it's time to change the program's scope.

"One of the things I mentioned at the time of my interview for this job was that it would be much more interesting to show California art in a broader geographical context," he said. "To me, the state's boundaries seem a little bit arbitrary in the midst of globalized cultural exchanges."

He would know. Chapman has more than 20 years of experience organizing international biennials, including the Istanbul and Taipei Biennials and Prospect New Orleans, which he produced post-Hurricane Katrina through his non-profit, U.S. Biennial.

"Expanding the California Biennial to an international base is not just a natural progression," he added. "I think it's how California artists want to be seen now ... they see themselves as part of an international network."

Cameron also noted that extending the time frame from two to three years would give the museum enough time to organize and raise money such a large-scale event. His field research and international travel, where he will continue to draw on his well-established network of artists and funding sources, concludes in September.

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