Long Beach Museum of Art Goes ‘Risqué’ for New Exhibit

September 18, 2013, In The News

When he first saw one of the original paintings for a new show at the Long Beach Museum of Art, artist and exhibit co-curator Jeff McMillan knew the show would easily live up to its name.

Inside the package he received in the mail from well-known Los Angeles painter F. Scott Hess was an 8-by-10-inch oil on canvas called “Preserving the Natural Order.” The piece depicts a female rhinoceros with a pretty bright bow on her tail engaged in a sexual act with a woman in what appears to be a Roman-era arena as a crowd of animals look on.

The small painting will probably not appeal to everyone. It will likely shock some people, maybe even offend a few, and it’s definitely a risky piece of art; which is why it fits in well with the museum’s new exhibit titled “Risqué {dirty little pictures}.” It recently opened at the 2300 E. Ocean Blvd. venue and runs through Nov. 10.

“We want people to question what’s risqué to them,” said McMillan, a Long Beach resident, on a recent Monday afternoon at the museum a few days before the Sept. 20 exhibit opening. “The show may challenge you a little bit. I think it’s a very interesting fun show.”

The exhibit will be displayed on the rich red walls in the museum’s second-floor Kilsby Gallery and will include 40 8-by-10-inch original paintings from 40 different artists including illustrators and fine art painters such as acclaimed painter Gretchen Ryan; Detroit pop surrealist artist Glenn Barr; Soey Milk, an emerging artist known for her erotic surrealist work; and Nathan Spoor, a Burbank-based artist who focuses on surreal paintings. Spoor is also the exhibit co-curator along with McMillan.

Gretchen Ryan's oil on canvas "David and Amanda" is featured in the Long Beach Museum of Art's new exhibit "Risqué {dirty little pictures}."

Gretchen Ryan, David and Amanda. Oil on canvas.

“I expect it to be a dynamic reaction. Some people will enjoy it and some people you hope will be shocked. You want that spectrum. I think this is a show that will cover the polarity of reactions,” Spoor said.

The collection is intended to offer a look at modern eroticism through the work of artists who were given free range to define what risqué meant to them and to think about what makes something dirty or naughty, said Ron Nelson, executive director of the museum and exhibit creator.

“It’s a gutsy move for these artists to be able to put out some of these images, and I think it’s our role as a museum to pique interest, to create conversations and to also be a little bit gutsy, certainly,” he said.

But the exhibit is not for everyone. Nelson said “Risqué” is “rated R” and is open only to adults. There will be museum personnel on hand making sure no minors go into the exhibit, he said.

The idea for the show was sparked by Nelson’s visit to the homes of some of his artist friends. He said he always noticed they had small drawings in their homes that they never intended to show in a public setting. Nelson liked the idea of a show with smaller paintings, but he didn’t just want nice doodles, he also wanted to challenge the artists.

“Each one had to think about what risqué means to them and I’m proud of all of them. I think their work is quite stunning,” Nelson said.

The painting by Hess is one of the most graphic pieces in the exhibit; others cover the gamut from playful to more subtle erotic images such as Ryan’s piece called “David and Amanda.”

The oil on canvas depicts an attractive blond woman in a revealing dress with bright red lipstick and her mouth slightly open. She’s leaning into a dark shadowy image of a man wearing sunglasses. His left hand is caressing her buttocks.

Milk’s painting, which she named “White Anthurium,” is a little less subtle in its interpretation of risqué. It shows a topless woman wearing a black leather head covering. Her thumb is touching her lower lip as a white substance drips from her mouth.

“It’s stunning. It’s very suggestive without being pornographic,” Nelson said.

There are also more playful images such as painter Charlie Immer’s “Ice Cream Blown.” The painting shows one ice cream cone licking another.

“What makes me smile about it is how individual artists took their own styles and how they created something that is embodying risqué,” Nelson said. “Some of the artists, I think, took a big chance on that. I think others are more sensual than erotic, but it was the artists line to walk and I respect that completely.”

Guzman, Richard (2013, September 18). Long Beach Museum of Art goes ‘Risqué’ for new exhibit. Retrieved from Press Telegram http://www.presstelegram.com/lifestyle/20130917/long-beach-museum-of-art-goes-risquxe9-for-new-exhibit

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