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Fall exhibitions at the Schneider Museum of Art

The current exhibitions at the Schneider Museum of Art at the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University is testament to director Scott Malbaurn’s consistent commitment to bringing the museum forward as a significant player in the regional art scene.

The show — which offers a diverse range of work that includes everything from 20th century masterworks by Roy Lichtenstein and Kenneth Noland, to new and important work by Portland-based and Barcelona-born artist V. Maldonado — is visually strong and curatorially consistent in spite of the diversity of artists on display.

Upon entering the museum, viewers are greeted by a cornucopia of blue-chip art that has been assembled from assorted private collections, a grouping that includes work of Lichtenstein and Noland, but also of lesser-known artists like Los Angeles based painter Mark Grotjahn, whose bold geometric paintings have shown prolifically at such institutions as the Broad Art Foundation and the Hammer Museum.

Yayoi Kusama, an important Japanese artist who has been active since the 1950s, is featured, as is the iconic 1960 bronze “Torse Fruit” by French-German sculptor Jean Arp. Malbaurn says that he wants to create a space where students and visitors can come and see art that is global, as well as work that is regional and emergent.

On view in the main gallery is an interactive workspace for art students spearheaded by mixed media artist Justin Favela, who works with large installation sculptures in the piñata style. There are artworks being created in the space by his students, a move which Malbaurn seems to acknowledge has to do with making art more accessible and dynamic in a break with the more traditional “white box” museum format. Favella has shown his work prolifically across much of the United States and has been featured at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, and at the Denver Museum of Art, as well as in other important collections. The work is extraordinarily detailed and painstakingly assembled using tiny pieces of paper overlay to create the effects of a classic piñata.

Deeper into the space, the Heiter Gallery features a highlight of the exhibit with potent new works from V. Maldonado, in a show of larger scale abstract works in acrylic on canvas that were motivated by Maldonado’s emotional response to current border policies, and especially to the caging of children. Maldonado, who had identified as Victor Maldonado until recently, has shifted their gender identity in solidarity with the queer community and also due to their disgust with the political status quo. Malbaurn notes that Maldonado is attempting to exorcise their anger at the current state of American governance, and it shows. The work is rageful, potent, and teeming with expression and vitality.

At the far end of the Museum in the Treehaven Gallery is a selection of prints from Los Angeles-based Self Help Graphics and Art. The work explores themes of Chicano heritage, and features a variety of artists expressing their perspectives on latinx identity and history, with subject matter that covers everything from the human heart to the Los Angeles freeway system. Included among the group of artists are works by muralist Judithe Hernandez and by Frank Romero, two members of the legendary “Los Four” artist collective that was active in bringing awareness of Chicano culture into the streets of Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s.

Overall, the show is well worth a look if you are interested in a diverse and far reaching program that is sure to have something for everyone.

Fall Exhibitions at the Schneider Museum are on view 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday until Dec. 14, 2019, at the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU, 555 Indiana Street in Ashland. The Center is closed on Sundays.

Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a columnist, arts reviewer and cultural commentator. Email him at gillespie.jeffrey@gmail.com

La Vetruvia, 2019, Acrylic on canvas by Victor Maldonado, courtesy of Froelick Gallery