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Exploring the darker side of the Golden State

By Alexis Matsui

Oct. 6, 2004 9:00 p.m.

California dreamin’ might not be quite as light and breezy
anymore, at least according to the featured artists in this
year’s art department show, “Dark Side of the
Sun,” curated by some of UCLA’s graduate art students.
The show, which surveys MFA student work from schools across
California, features various mediums and a wide variety of ideas
about California artwork.

Curator and graduate art student Karen Liebowitz helped choose
works for the show, and mentioned that the largest theme a lot of
works shared was a lonely and depressing depiction of typically
Californian images like sunny beaches and bikini-clad babes.

“We wanted to go with a Pink Floyd reference to the
psychedelic because that’s what a lot of the artwork
portrayed,” she said.

Although most of the works don’t seem to be overly austere
at first glance, a deeper look will reveal the show’s dark

“The theme developed after we decided what looked good
together,” said another graduate curator Brian Bress.
“It turned out that a lot of the images were bleak, lonely
and depressing.”

But “Dark Side of the Sun” is not intended to be a
presentation of typical California art.

“People have their notions of California art being trendy
and stylized,” said Liebowitz. “This is in no way a
survey show. I think it gives a good taste of contemporary
Californian art, but it doesn’t necessarily fit that

The show is being installed in two separate spaces across the
Kinross building. The north gallery will be lighted and feature
sculpture and visual works, while the south gallery will be
darkened and spotlit in order to emphasize the internal lighting of
some of the sculptures and especially to highlight the show’s
video productions.

Among the video works will be a film by California Art
Institute’s Victoria Fu and Claremont’s Ben Shafer.

“Shafer’s work is great because he makes hippy
videos with Final Cut Pro,” said Bress. “They feature
surreal landscapes, and they’re trippy in the best

Sterling Ruby, whose work has gotten a lot of attention from
print magazines and local shows, also has a piece in the

“He’s an up-and-coming artist,” said
Liebowitz. “So much of his work is great. We were just trying
to figure out which was appropriate.”

Choosing this year’s participants was another job entirely
done by the graduate student curators.

“We sent out people for site visits to graduate schools
all over California,” said Liebowitz. “We went through
hundreds of submissions and then decided which of those artists we
wanted to see more from.”

Once the artists were chosen, they sent in more slides of their
work and the final pieces were chosen. Although the artwork is done
by outside artists, the show’s installation choices were
entirely up to the curators.

“We definitely took liberties with their artwork,”
said Liebowitz.

The show’s installation brings the artwork to life in new
ways, and helps expose the pieces’ darker qualities.

Although the show may seem to contain painful images, the
curators were careful that the show not come across too heavy

“A lot of the work has a bit of a sense of humor about
depression, anxiety and loneliness,” said Bress. “The
works seem to break the idea of the angst-ridden artist.”

“˜Dark Side of the Sun’ runs through Nov. 4 at
Kinross. For more information, visit

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Alexis Matsui
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