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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

The triennial, which will run at OCMA from June 30 to Sept. 22, 2013, comprise what Cameron described as a "Pacific Rim 21st century hodgepodge of media," including paintings, sculpture, photography, digital media and site-specific installations, "where the physical form of the museum will become part of the artist's toolbox."

Participating artists will be announced early next year.

OCMA Director Dennis Szakacs, another former New Yorker who worked with Cameron for six years on the East Coast, noted the biennial's role in documenting contemporary Californian art over the last three decades. Working at OCMA for the past nine years, Szakacs is the longest serving director on record there.

"When it began, the biennial was the only exhibition that was taking the pulse of what artists in California were doing," Szakacs said. "As we put more resources and energy into it, it really became a bellwether not just for Southern California, but for the entire West Coast, the U.S. and internationally. I'm really looking forward to where Cameron takes this."

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Both Cameron and Szakacs contend that the international platform will increase interest and attendance for the museum, as well as open OCMA up to new and greater sources of funding, though, they emphasized, this wasn't an issue for biennials past.

According to Szakacs, foreign governments, private foundations and corporate underwriters should find the variety and international scope of the triennial worth sponsoring.

Even though California artists will comprise only about a third of the triennial's exhibitors, members of the local art community were excited by the change in scope and expressed their support for Cameron.

"The progression makes perfect sense to me," said Daniel Joseph Martinez, a 2008 California Biennial artist.

"Honestly, I don't know why we haven't done that yet," he continued. "Viewing the larger geopolitical picture of contemporary art, I don't think you can look at California without also looking at the Pacific Rim. New York and Europe are so far from us, so instead of trying to emulate the conversation that already exists there, this will provoke the opening of a rigorous conversation in the other direction."

Tony DeLap, a prominent Corona del Mar sculptor known for his 1960s minimalism and Op Art, was also looking forward to the triennial.

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