Curated by Catherine Opie
March 16 – April 22, 2006
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 16, 6-8pm)
Mara Lonner was born in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, in 1956. After high school, she studied horticulture with the intention of becoming either a landscape architect or forest ranger. Upon realizing that plants were more a hobby than vocation, she pursued a career in garment design. Her design career evolved to include custom high-end clothing, off-Broadway costume design, jewelry, interior design and architectural remodeling. Recognizing that design (and nature) were better suited as subjects, and that her true passion was in making works of art, she went back to school and was awarded a BFA in 1987 and an MFA in 1989 from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. Since 1995, she has taught all levels of drawing, 2/3D design, sculpture and senior exhibition at the University of California, Irvine. In addition, she teaches at Long Beach Community College and for the California Summer School for the Arts. In 1998, she received a California Arts Council fellowship, and in 2001 and 2005 was awarded Artist Completion Grants from the Durfee Foundation. The 2005 grant was awarded to assist in completing work for the CUE Art Foundation exhibition. Her work has been exhibited nationally, the CUE exhibition is her first in New York. She continues to work and live in Los Angeles.
Catherine Opie was born in 1961 in Sandusky, OH. She received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1985 and an MFA from CalArts, Los Angeles, CA in 1988. Ms. Opie has had solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (1997), Saint Louis Art Museum, MO (2000), the Photographers' Gallery in London (2000), and Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN (2002). Her work has appeared in the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (1995 and 2004); Féminin-Masculin: Le sexe de l'art at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1995); Rrose is a Rrose is a Rrose: Gender Performance in Photography at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (1997); Melbourne International Biennial, Melbourne, Australia (2000); and Moving Pictures at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain (2003). She has taught at Yale University and is currently a professor of photography at the University of California in Los Angeles. Ms. Opie was the recipient of the 2004 Larry Aldrich Award. She lives and works in Los Angeles.
The body of work presented at the CUE Art Foundation consists of colored-pencil drawings on paper and a wall work of latex house paint and drywall joint compound. These works address my interest in the spaces between, spaces that are sometimes difficult and uncomfortable, sometimes intolerable or exciting, but always are important states of transition. A favorite quote, "Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you and just before you realize what's wrong with it," articulates this state. Another example is the period between the announcement of impending war in Iraq and the reality of the first bombing. It's the state that occurs when one hears about a loved one's terminal illness and that loved one's death.
The exhibition design strategy for this series is based on my idea of the IKEA model. Visitors to IKEA are greeted with items offered in ideal arrangements, objects that are available individually but propose a resonance when seen in relation to each other. This is the model of presentation I've used for the Between Series at CUE.
The formal focus in my work is an attempt to investigate the relationship between architecture, drawing and sculpture. This aesthetic vehicle, in combination with the overlap between ornament and function, the intersection between labor and material, and the consideration of architecture and object, present the paradox inherent in these contrasts. It is within the spaces of contradiction that I find beauty. I work in a variety of materials ranging from those of traditional fine art to building supplies. I make choices based on the implications of each material. For example, I've used joint compound for one material of Between Now and Then to suggest exposure of that which is usually hidden. This material is used to level out the seams and dimples created as a consequence of installing sheet rock in building a wall. It takes strength and finesse to accomplish this task well, talents that are forever obscured once paint is applied to finish the wall.
The images in this publication are from three bodies of work: the Between Series from the CUE exhibition; an image from The Sunset Series, 2001; and images from better, 1998.
I would like to express my gratitude to Catherine Opie for her enduring support of my work.
by Catherine Opie
The ephemeral body encompassing light.
Architecture, good taste, elements of design, perception, and everlasting beauty.
In life, time passes by.
These are the concepts that Mara Lonner explores in her work. She makes things that resonate in the complexities of the everyday, obsessively exploring things that seem so simple, and shifting our perceptions in the process. Some of the work has a conceptual base, while others are about looking and seeing, which is something we forget art can do-make us look.
We have looked at each other's work for twenty years-first as graduate students, then lab techs at the University of California in Irvine, and now as neighbors. Our conversations span from the political to the mundane, but always thrill in the passion of looking and creating. Artists are about longevity, the dedication of making work not only for ourselves but also in hope of an audience. Mara Lonner is an artist who so deserves that moment for all to look. Her dedication and vision are truly awesome accomplishments, and it is my great joy and pleasure to curate this show.