By Marc Ang
Laguna Beach, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/6/21 – The Hollywood Times attended the Laguna Art Museum’s 9th Annual Art & Nature Festival, a multidisciplinary exploration of art’s various engagements with the natural world, November 4-7, 2021. The museum will also hold the annual Art & Nature Gala tonight on November 6, an immersive evening of Art & Nature supporting Laguna Art Museum’s far-reaching art education and exhibition programs.
This year’s Art & Nature featured artist, Rebeca Méndez, presented Any-Instant-Whatever, a multimedia experience depicting a contemplation of a day in Los Angeles that captures a cloud-rich sky above the lively city and its inhabitants. According to Méndez, the sky and the sun in Los Angeles are both great unifying forces, infusing a certain relaxed Southern Californian style in its people, as well as equalizers, whose light and warmth caress everyone. People in Los Angeles from all walks of life experience the same sky—something we all have in common.
Any-Instant-Whatever featured a dark room the size of a theater with video panels and images of clouds. If you were to walk up to it, you would see your own shadow, but from afar you will get the full view of moving clouds and images of the sky. The performance is on a 90 minute loop, but even just a few minutes gives the audience a powerful but calming experience.
One of the attendees, after viewing Rebeca Mendez’s 90-minute immersive experience with slow transitions said, “It connected mind and body and was a spiritual experience. There was a very important beat drop, and the music stopped and the spotlight was put on me. I wasn’t ready for it and it made think of all the things in life that suddenly hit me when I’m not ready. My default is to have a panic attack but Rebeca’s experience was calming and taught me a new way to react to my normally hectic emotions.”
Rebeca herself mentioned the importance of being in the moment and that most people, especially in her Los Angeles home, are disconnected from the natural world and don’t take the time to experience nature. In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Times, Mendez said “In California, we are lucky to have so much daytime sun. I felt that it was important to make note of what happens and the complexity of cloud formations, the different colors of blue that happen in one single day. And that in a sense, is the equalizer of society. No matter who you are, you look up, you see the same thing, whether it’s class, or segregated by the different neighborhoods. The droplets of water and incredible colors – it was a beautiful story to tell through something simple.
Talking about the music, Rebeca said “I usually work with a composer to be able to create the right sound for my artwork. Once I have a sense of the story I want to tell, I choose the composer right for my work. In this case is Drew Schnurr, my long time collaborator of over 20 years. He began working with this atmospheric work, starting with crystals and it brings out something that is emerging from the artwork itself.”
You can find Rebeca at this showing or next year, when she will be focusing on the ocean, as she explores the reckless dump in front of Catalina island and exploring the voice of the sea lions. It is amazing and sad that 20 percent of them have cancer. She believes in the reciprocity of life and to be grateful, and if we are going to extract, we must give back to our ocean. Look out for this next year and stay tuned through her website, rebecamendez.com and on instagram @rebecamendezstudio.
Additional Art & Nature festival programming includes the First Thursdays Art Walk on November 4, a keynote lecture on November 5 from Dr. Daniel Lewis, the Dibner Senior Curator for the History of Science & Technology at the Huntington Library, Art Museum & Botanical Gardens, the new Jessie Arms Botke art exhibition opening on November 5, the Art & Nature Gala on November 6, the annual Family Festival on November 14, plus additional events throughout the fall season.
Continuing Laguna Beach’s legacy as a center for the arts, Art & Nature provides a unique opportunity for the Southern California community to come together for a festival of art and ideas, to inspire artists, and enhance the appreciation of nature as a place that inspires awareness about the environment we share.
About the Artist
Rebeca Méndez is an artist, designer, and chair of the Design Media Arts department at UCLA, where she is also director of the CounterForce Lab. Her research and practice investigate design and media art in public spaces, critical approaches to public identities and landscape, and artistic projects based on field investigation methods. In addition to her many great permanent public commissions, including two for the Metro Art Crenshaw/LAX project and three for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Méndez’s work is represented in numerous public and private collections. Among them are the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Nevada Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca in Mexico, the El Paso Museum of Art, and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. From 2017 through 2019 she served as selecting committee member for the “Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award.”
On November 5, Dr. Daniel Lewis gave the keynote lecture, John James Audubon: Art, Nature and Science in the Nineteenth Century. Curator and historian Dan Lewis will discuss the role of Audubon in art and science, tracing the history of American ornithological illustration from its earliest days up to Audubon’s work, including material about his predecessors and successors in the bird illustration world, and including a discussion of the tensions inherent in our current understandings of the racially troubling corners of Audubon’s legacy.
Lewis is the Dibner Senior Curator for the History of Science & Technology at the Huntington Library, Art Museum & Botanical Gardens in Southern California. His permanent history of science exhibit, Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World, was named by the American Alliance of Museums as the best exhibit in America the year after it opened. Prior to coming to the Huntington, Dr. Lewis was the Company Historian for the Los Angeles Times. He holds a PhD in History from the University of California, and has held post-doctoral appointments at Oxford University, the Smithsonian, and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. His extensive teaching background includes stints at USC, Claremont Graduate University, Art Center College of Design and Caltech. He is the author of three books and is under contract for a fourth, to be published by Simon & Schuster.
About Laguna Art Museum
Laguna Art Museum is the museum of California art. It collects, cares for, and exhibits works of art that were created by California artists or represent the life and history of the state. Through its permanent collection, its special loan exhibitions, its educational programs, and its library and archive, the museum enhances the public’s knowledge and appreciation of California art of all periods and styles and encourages art-historical scholarship in this field.
Laguna Art Museum stands just steps from the Pacific Ocean in the beautiful city of Laguna Beach. The museum is proud to continue the tradition of the Laguna Beach Art Association, founded in 1918 by the early California artists who fostered a vibrant arts community. The gallery that the association built in 1929 is part of today’s Laguna Art Museum.
For more information, please visit www.lagunaartmuseum.org
Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Drive in Laguna Beach, on the corner of Coast Highway and Cliff Drive.
Monday – Tuesday, Thursday – Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day