University Art Galleries host Gerald Buck Collection

By Christina Acevedo

The University Art Gallery and Contemporary Arts Center Gallery at UC Irvine will be displaying, until Jan. 5, an exhibit titled “First Glimpse” that includes pieces from the Buck Collection by California artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. As of Oct. 4, guided tours will be held at the galleries on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Since its premiere on Sept. 29, the exhibit has showcased California artwork collected by Gerald E. Buck, a developer from Newport Beach. UCI received Buck’s collection after his passing.

According to Stephen Barker, curator and dean of Claire Trevor School of the Arts, a large quantity of this artwork has remained out of the public eye.

“You don’t often get a chance to do this with a whole set of artworks that nobody has seen,” Barker said. “The whole experience has been just delightful.”

Deriving inspiration from Buck’s diverse collection, the exhibit’s curators strove to feature multiple genres.

Beginning in the Contemporary Arts Center Gallery, the guided tour highlights the works of artists such as Helen Lundeberg, Carlos Almaraz, David Park and Ruth Asawa. The tour then progresses from its look at figuration and abstraction art into light and space and assemblage art.

This second half is housed within the University Art Gallery and delves into pieces by Larry Bell, Ed Bereal and Mary Corse, among others.

When asked about the process of organizing the exhibit, Barker explained that he and the other two curators, Kevin Appel and Cécile Whiting, selected 50 pieces individually before coming together and agreeing on which ones to put in the exhibit. Despite Barker’s initial concerns about potential disagreements, many of the pieces they chose happened to be the same.

As for his goal with the exhibit, Barker hopes it will inspire more students to view art in person as well as highlight the role that California art has played for late 20th and early 21st century contemporary and modern art.

“California has been responsible for many of the new kinds of art, new emerging art forms, that have caught on in the rest of the country and across the world, and that’s still a fact that many people don’t know about,” he said.

As the exhibit demonstrates only a small portion of the Buck Collection, Barker shared that UCI has plans for the other works as well. One of these is a book set to come out at the beginning of Dec. The book is planned to touch upon the artwork from the exhibit, in addition to 100 more works. It is also set to include essays written by the curators and a conversation with Buck’s daughter, Christina Buck.

In what Barker refers to as phase two, UCI intends to show more of the Buck Collection as well as pieces from the Irvine Museum collection by moving the two to a bigger, temporary area in the fall of 2019. As part of the final phase, UCI will construct a permanent building for the Institute and Museum for California Art that will include the Buck collection and other California art pieces.

Despite being an art museum, Barker claims that the IMCA will also be connected to research at all of UCI’s schools.

“The institute and the museum are tied integrally to all 15 of the academic schools at UCI,” he explained. “And so we will be partnering with researchers from every unit on the campus to have mutually shared research projects attached to or connected to or in a dialogue with California art but that will be picking up on their research in their own units.”

Those interested in visiting the current exhibit may do so Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m and Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m.

photo credit to UCI today