Window Dressing: Art Front and Center
opening January 29 through April 20
Cerritos College Art Gallery, Norwalk
by Genie Davis
Window Dressing, a series of week-long installations in the Cerritos College Art Gallery’s display window vitrine, debuts January 29th. Running through April 20th, the exhibition presents 10 different artists’ conception of a window display. The gallery will offer an opening reception on the Monday of each exhibition from 4-6 p.m. Curated by James MacDevitt, director and curator of the college gallery and assistant professor of art history, the show makes full use of the gallery’s design.
MacDevitt explains “When we first began design of the new Cerritos College Fine Arts building a few years ago, I was adamant that the new Cerritos College Art Gallery include an outward facing glass-enclosed gallery space through which we could more effectively engage with the wider campus community.”
The gallery’s previous location in the former, now demolished, Fine Arts building received little foot traffic. The window display in the new space was included to increase the visibility of the gallery’s art programming.
“The upcoming Window Dressing exhibition cycle is just one way I plan to activate this space. There is no unifying theme for all the various week-long installations, which in this case might actually be better suited to the mandate of increased visibility, as visitors, students, and pedestrians will be treated to a rotating collection of unique one-off displays,” MacDevitt says.
In fact, MacDevitt has long-planned to use the space in both unexpected and exciting ways.
“The primary idea that led to this upcoming project was PØST gallery’s month-long rotation of day-long ‘kamikaze’ exhibitions,” he says. “The space is relatively small and self-contained, so it made sense to have little rotating shows. A week-long showing seemed the perfect length, as we could de-install each show on Saturday and install the next one on Sunday, to be ready for the opening receptions on Monday evenings.” He added, “even part-time students come to campus once a week, so this gives just about everyone a chance to experience each installation before the next one is rotated in.”
To find artists interested in utilizing the space, MacDevitt put out an open call on Facebook, expecting a few responses. Instead, he received many, and decided to double his initially planned five installations to ten.
“There were so many wonderful, innovative ways that artists came up with using the space. Each one is unique,” MacDevitt says. “I really want each installation to be distinct, both visually and conceptually.”
Window Dressing does not mark the first time the Gallery’s window display has been used for exhibition purposes, “For recent shows like the SUR:biennial and the ManUp exhibition, we simply installed works in this space that were part of the larger exhibition,” MacDevitt relates. “These installations are completely separate and distinct from exhibits in the Main Gallery and the Projects Room.”
1/29-2/2: Jacqueline Bell Johnson
First up, running January 29 through February 2nd, Jacqueline Bell Johnson’s Starburst. “It’s woven fabric,” she says, “lines of fabric in pink, coral, orange, and yellow that will radiate from a center frame and be lit up at night.” The work will create a burst of light and color within the display, and the woven dyed cheesecloth will form a delicate and intricate pattern in cast shadows that mingles with illuminated fabric. “For me, making is a way to explore design, composition and layout…the labor and thought are there for all to see.”
2/5-2/9: Dakota Noot
Dakota Noot’s Meat Market runs February 5-9 and features drawings turned into standing cutouts and hanging pieces. Linking masculinity and the body to the concepts of buying and selling, hunting, and meat-eating, with men morphed into animal-human hybrids. The artist draws upon both his rural background and his self-identification as a gay male artist while touching on themes of identity, sexual orientation, and objectification.
2/12-2/16: Diane Williams
Diane Williams’ Beautiful Creatures opens February 12 and mimics the stereotypical presentation of commercial storefront displays with a surreal twist. Featured objects on display come from her Monsters and Aliens project which involved the creation of abstract masks. Here, these masks will be placed on mannequins and custom-made stands, combined with shredded acrylic paintings scattered on the floor and cut-up gel rolls hanging from the ceiling, creating an exhibition that is semi-translucent.
2/26-3/2: Paula Goldman
Opening February 26th is Paula Goldman’s Bluster, which portrays relief from the onslaught of news and events today, using a fan and a large photo of a woman’s face in profile as if blowing out candles; the combination of the two creates the illusion that the woman is exhaling sharply.
3/5-3/9: Henderson Blumer and Suzanne Zoe
With A Comedy, In Parts Henderson Blumer and Suzanne Zoe are opening March 5th. The exhibition creates an encompassing mirage of a stage set that changes when viewed both far away and close-up. Here, the closer the viewer approaches, the more the themes of real vs. fake and the reconciliation of multiple realities come into action.
3/19-3/23: John Waiblinger and Sean Yang
John Waiblinger and Sean Yang offer Journey on March 19th, which narrates and navigates the process of ‘coming out’ that both artists have experienced; the exhibition includes a mannequin, a life-sized bust of artist Yang, and an exploding head.
3/26-3/30: Cat Chiu Phillips
Cat Chiu Phillips presents the playful installation Remix, created from discarded audio and visual products beginning March 26th; it provides a beginners’ dialogue about abundance, electronic waste, and frivolity in the aftermath of advanced technology, and mimics organic forms “living” in the installation.
4/2-4/3: Christy Roberts Berkowitz
On April 2, Christy Roberts Berkowitz presents Elemental Principals, which features translucent color panels that pose a question integrating the elements of design with critical thinking, challenging viewers with their response to window color and lighting.
4/9-4/13: Elizabeth Tinglof
Elizabeth Tinglof’s A Thin Thread to Balance opens April 9th, and addresses the process of grief through conversations around gender, exposure, and symbolic penance. The work features a sculpture of an abstract resin human torso covered in areas with silver leaf, as well as iconic female garments such as the hoop petticoat.
4/16-4/20: Connie DK Lane
And closing the series, opening on April 16th, Connie DK Lane’s Bravura features latex anthropomorphic forms simulating apparel for all genders. The artist will also offer a live fashion show on the date of the reception.
MacDevitt has been running the gallery for almost a decade, building exhibition cycles that are well-regarded for offering new and innovative work. With Window Dressing, he plans to make the shows a regular feature of his annual exhibition cycle. “Artists whose proposals were not accepted this time around or who didn’t apply but have ideas for the space, should get ready for another round of open calls soon,” he said.