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Weston Centennial

November 02, 1986|ZAN DUBIN

California celebrates the centennial birthday of master photographer Edward Weston this month with a string of local exhibitions and a standout show up north.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art purports to offer "the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Weston's work ever assembled" with a 237-print cache opening Friday (to Jan. 18). "Supreme Instants: The Photography of Edward Weston" is a retrospective spanning Weston's entire career. The artist/photographer, who lived from 1886 to 1958, traveled throughout the country and emerged as one of 20th-Century America's most influential photographers.

The tribute, containing familiar images and some never displayed before, includes examples of Weston's earliest natural landscapes (1903-1904), platinum prints from his pictorial period (1914-1922), important works from the transitional years he spent in Mexico (1923-26) and a large selection of landscapes, figure studies and still lifes from 1927 to 1948. Also on view are his carefully composed prints of isolated seashells and vegetables and his first experiments with color photography.

Augmenting the photographs are original letters and documents, personal artifacts, portraits of Weston and pages from his journals, called "Daybooks."

The exhibit was organized by the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and drawn from its extensive Edward Weston Archive. It will travel to 13 museums across the country to 1990, stopping off at the County Museum of Art next June.

The 32-year span Weston spent in the Los Angeles area is chronicled in "Edward Weston: The Home Spirit and Beyond," Nov. 25 to Feb. 1 at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

While Weston traveled extensively during those years (1906-1938), most of the 45 portraits, landscapes and still lifes in the Getty exhibit were made prior to and during the time he maintained a studio in Tropico (now Glendale). The words "home spirit" in the exhibit title refer to a portion of its subject matter: family members and intimate friends whom Weston often captured on film at the time.

Planned to complement the Getty exhibit is "Edward Weston's Gift to the Huntington Library," also opening Nov. 25, at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

Between 1940 and 1944, Weston gave 500 of his photographs to the San Marino institution. This selection (on view to March 29) includes 50 depictions of the Depression years with photographs of wrecked cars, abandoned mines and graveyards. The photographs were taken from 1937 to 1938, when Weston enjoyed the first Guggenheim photography fellowship.

Finally, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena recently opened a Weston show featuring about 30 examples from 1925 to 1941. The exhibit, culled from the museum's permanent holdings, is on view for an indefinite period and includes California landscapes.

A recent $3,000 grant from the New York-based Pollock-Krasner Foundation Inc. will enable Santa Monica sculptor Sandra Miller to pursue her career without worrying about studio rent for a year.

The 19-month-old foundation, established by the late artist Lee Krasner, widow of painter Jackson Pollock, was set up to help individual visual artists. It pays for professional or personal expenses. Grants are awarded according to need and artistic excellence.

"I'll use the grant for my artwork," said Miller, who sculpts in limestone and glass. "It will help me pay for materials--I'm going to be working on a six-foot piece of stone--and studio rent. Receiving the award validated my work and (indicated to me) that people are interested in its existence."

Charles C. Bergman, Pollock-Krasner Foundation executive vice president, said that as of Sept. 15, the foundation, worth more than $20 million, has made 139 grants totaling more than $1 million to artists around the world (ranging from $2,000 to $20,000).

Miller, the fourth Pollock-Krasner grant recipient in Los Angeles, exhibits her work at the Merging One Gallery in Santa Monica. (Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant applications are available from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 4957, New York, N.Y., 10185.)

Witness the quintessential art opening reception: Gallery groupies clad in the latest leather crowd into too-small spaces to gawk and chatter about idolized "in" artists' work. Artspeak abounds, echoing off the ubiquitous punch bowl.

Like Red Grooms' human-sized, walk-in, sit-down subway car, Nancy Reddin and Ed Kienholz have constructed "The Art Show," a room-sized installation populated by life-size, sculpted aesthetic cognoscenti.

Opening Nov. 11 at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum (to Dec. 20), the installation is filled with sculptural viewers mechanically wired to talk in assorted foreign tongues as they observe other Reddin/Kienholz artwork on the walls.

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