Finding Art in Unusual Places
I have a confession to make: I am not an art connoisseur. I can appreciate masterpieces and beautiful things for their aesthetic pleasure, but I fail to notice what distinguishes most modern art from scribbles and creative musings. Therefore, I would not say I am inept to judge two new art exhibits at UC Irvine, but I would safely say that the exhibits should be judged on a basis other than artistic merit.
Art is supposed to be an expression of thoughts and opinions, and classically, it is supposed to be expressed in beautiful and unusual ways. Because of this, it is very subjective. Perhaps it is this that makes art difficult to understand, and therefore overlooked.
UCI is not known for art, but for biology, research and producing fine students engineered to use their left brains. Art tends to fall to a lower priority where curing diseases and improving welfare are concerned. But there are pockets of creativity on campus, people who have talent and imagination to spare and wish to ensure that UCI always has a steady stream of ingenuity flowing in. These are the students that should visit the University Art Gallery.
Currently there are two exhibits located in the University Art Gallery behind the Cyber A Cafe. Beyond a pair of red doors lies the exhibit titled ‘The Look of Law’ and nearby, ‘Truc Trang Walls.’
Unlike most confined galleries, ‘Law’ is an airy space with a high ceiling and sparse decoration to emphasize the art on the walls. The exhibit features artists’ perspectives on law and order, and includes a map of LAPD involvement in the Los Angeles riots, a map of a prison, a movie playing silently in the corner and custom-made police shields with phrases on them like ‘Kick Ass,’ ‘Busting Our Butts to Do It Right’ and ‘Bomb.’ The exhibit is a comment on the law and its influence on the lives of civilians, in ways we know affect us and in ways we don’t. It is enigmatic, belying a subtle dissatisfaction buried beneath the unconventional art, and a lot is left to be interpreted by the observer. Just as art is supposed to do, the exhibit prompt the viewer to ask a lot of questions and wonder about something generally not considered art.
There will always be a certain level of curiosity necessary to voluntarily seek out art. UCI has given students a chance to embrace this impulse through the galleries available on campus. Walking through the welcoming, free exhibits is an experience worth having, one that can be yours if you take the time to embrace it, Monday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.